Georgia First Offender Act

Georgia First Offender Act

Georgia First Offender Act

What is First Offender Probation?

What is the Georgia First Offender Act, aka the Second Chance Law? The First Offender Act is a sentencing option (program) that enables a person with no prior felony conviction to avoid normal prosecution and avoid having a permanent criminal record. Depending on the charges, you may still be required to pay fines or court costs, complete substance abuse counseling, and do community service.

This alternative sentencing in Georgia provides that the State will defer conviction (and a criminal record) pending the successful completion of the program. Not having a criminal record is a huge break that can benefit a person throughout their life.

What is the Retroactive First Offender Statute

The retroactive first offender law creates the possibility for first offender treatment for a person who plead guilty to a felony, and would have been qualified for this treatment, but did not know about the option of first offender treatment.

Respect the Opportunity

Don’t blow this golden opportunity. If the person does not successfully complete the program they will then be prosecuted for the original charges and have a criminal record.

Georgia First Offender Act Background Check

While your situation won’t show as a criminal conviction, there will be a public file that an energetic investigator may find. Your defense lawyer may be able to have your case placed under seal, which will hide it from prying eyes. Under the rights granted by O.C.G.A. §42-8-62.1 your lawyer can file a motion to Restrict Public Access to Records. The cost for this motion is very minor compared to the benefits of not having a life stigmatized by a mistake.

Georgia First Offender Act Eligibility

Hiring a top defense lawyer is the first thing you should do to increase your chances of getting this treatment. Because you have everything to gain, and a lot to lose, you really should hire a lawyer.

For a lawyer to obtain First Offender status for the accused certain requirements must be met.

  • the accused cannot have any prior convictions in any state
  • you cannot have previously been treated as a first offender
  • the accused must accept responsibility and plead guilty to the charge(s).

The First Offender Program is not an option for anyone accused of highly egregious crimes. Persons charged with rape, murder, kidnapping, sexual offenses, and similar crimes are not eligble for such leniency.

Georgia Code O.C.G.A. 42-8-60

Georgia law for fist offenders deals with probation prior to adjudication of guilt; violation of probation; and review of criminal record by judge. Specifically, it reads as follows:

  • (a) Upon a verdict or plea of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere, but before an adjudication of guilt, in the case of a defendant who has not been previously convicted of a felony, the court may, without entering a judgment of guilt and with the consent of the defendant:
  • (1) Defer further proceeding and place the defendant on probation as provided by law; or
  • (2) Sentence the defendant to a term of confinement as provided by law.
  • (b) Upon violation by the defendant of the terms of probation, upon a conviction for another crime during the period of probation, or upon the court determining that the defendant is or was not eligible for sentencing under this article, the court may enter an adjudication of guilt and proceed as otherwise provided by law. No person may avail himself or herself of this article on more than one occasion.
  • (c) The court shall not sentence a defendant under the provisions of this article and, if sentenced under the provisions of this article, shall not discharge the defendant upon completion of the sentence unless the court has reviewed the defendant’s criminal record as such is on file with the Georgia Crime Information Center.
  • (d) The court shall not sentence a defendant under the provisions of this article who has been found guilty of or entered a plea of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere for:
  • (1) A serious violent felony as such term is defined in Code Section 17-10-6.1;
  • (2) A sexual offense as such term is defined in Code Section 17-10-6.2;
  • (3) Sexual exploitation of a minor as defined in Code Section 16-12-100;
  • (4) Electronically furnishing obscene material to a minor as defined in Code Section 16-12-100.1; or
  • (5) Computer pornography and child exploitation, as defined in Code Section 16-12-100.2.

Related Questions We Can Answer

There are a lot of twists and turns in trying to get First Offender status. We can answer common questions related to:

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  • georgia first offender act expungement
  • georgia first offender act background check
  • first offender act for aggravated assault

If you believe that you First Offender treatment fits your situation, please give us a call to learn how we can help you. Simply call 678-880-9360 to arrange a confidential meeting with a top defense lawyer in Cherokee County, Georgia.


  • Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova, available at Pixabay
Jimmy Duncan
James Hobson is a marketing professional and author with 40 years of experience in sales, marketing, print and digital advertising. James is a frequent contributor to law firm and business blogs under the nom de plume Jimmy Duncan.