First Offender Probation
Unless you commit a violent crime, you might qualify for First Offender probation. The big advantage of First offender probation is that if you successfully complete First Offender probation, for most eventualities, you do not have a conviction on your record.
OCGA § 42-8-60
If you receive First Offender probation on a drug offense, the Clerk of Court is not supposed to notify the Department of Driver's Services of such conviction. If the Clerk follows the law, you will not suffer a suspension of your driver's license.
To qualify for First Offender probation, you must not have a prior felony conviction, you cannot be charged with a violent felony, you must be advised of the advantages and disadvantages of First Offender treatment, you must ask the judge for it. The judge must review your record and consider all circumstances before allowing you to be placed on First Offender probation.
However, there is a potential downside to First Offender Probation. Let us assume that your offense has a potential sentence of 15 years. You receive a sentence of 8 years First Offender Probation. If you violate any of the terms and conditions of your probation, the judge can revoke, modify, or continue the probation.
Here's the bad part: The judge can enter an adjudication of guilt. If he does so, he can not only revoke your probation, he can sentence you up to the full sentence allowed by law. In this example, that would be a sentence of 15 years less credit for any amount of time served on probation.
Keep in mind that if you were sentenced to regular probation of 8 years, and if you violated your probation, the most the judge could revoke is the balance you have remaining.
IMPORTANT: Please note that if you are convicted of another offense while on first offender probation, Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 42-8-65(b)) requires the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) to change the first offender sentence to a conviction.
First Offender treatment is specifically prohibited by law for DUI cases.
Can Your First Offender Records Ever Be Released?
Yes. Under certain circumstances they can.
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