There are many questions that can come up while you have a pending criminal case in Georgia. You might be wondering: “If I fill out an application, will they see these charges?” or “Do I have to check ‘yes’ on this application question about criminal history?” You may be asking yourself these questions if you are applying for a job, filling out a college application, applying for housing, or anywhere else you might be filling out an application. Criminal cases can sometimes take years to resolve, and you can’t (and shouldn’t) put your life on hold during that time.
Who can see my pending criminal charges?
The questions of who can see your charge depends on three factors:
- How you were charged;
- Where you were charged; and
- What stage your case is in in the criminal prosecution process.
Where the person or company looks for a record also ties in to the ability to see a record. Generally, they will either run an official Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) Report, which is an official Georgia Criminal History, or they will hire a private background check company to do a report, which can including an official criminal history as well as court records or other records.
Impacts of How You Are Charged on Criminal History
Most criminal charges are initiated in one of two ways: either the officer gives you some sort of a citation and releases you without finger printing you, or the officer takes you to a jail or other facility where you are finger printed.
The significance of this is that an entry on your official Georgia criminal history is not usually made until you are fingerprinted. If you were not finger printed, and the background check only involves an official Georgia criminal history check, then the pending case probably won’t show up.
Impacts of where you were charged and your stage in the criminal process on Criminal History
Another place background check companies look for case information is official court records. In some courts, these records are easily accessed online, while other courts require you to go there in person to search for the records themselves. Some courts create publicly available files as soon as a person is charged, while others wait until the formal charges have been filed by the prosecutor.
For example, in Cherokee County Superior Court there will be a case and case number assigned to every person charged with a felony even before the prosecutor’s office files formal charges through accusation or indictment. But, in Cobb County Superior Court, there will not be a filing in their court system until the person has been formally accused or indicted by the prosecutor. In either of those courts, if an arrest warrant was issued for the person, there will be a record of the arrest warrant in Magistrate Court.
Ultimately, the answer of what will show up on these private background checks really depends where and how hard they look.
How do I answer criminal history questions on applications?
Deciding how to answer questions on an application really comes down to what they ask in the application questions. For our clients, we help them answer application questions they face in a way that is honest, but also minimizes the negative impact on them. We can also help them draft answers to questions surrounding criminal history related questions or write letters explaining the status of their cases.
If you are answering the question yourself, first make sure you understand what they are asking. Many applications ask about convictions. If you’ve been arrested, but have not pled guilty or nolo, or have not been convicted at a trial, then you can honestly answer no to the question about whether you have been convicted. If your case is already resolved and you are trying to get clarity on how to answer application questions, click here for an article on this topic.
Some applications ask questions about whether you have any pending charges, while others ask specifically if you have any pending felonies versus a broader category of “charges,” which can include misdemeanors. With these questions you need to understand the type of charge your are facing as well as the question to answer them honestly. If the question is about pending charges, it can be helpful to remind the person you are submitting the application to that while you are charged, you are still presumed innocent.
What should I do if I have a pending criminal case in Georgia?
We know that the impacts on your future can be significant when you are facing a criminal charge. We will work to minimize both the short-term and long-term impacts a criminal charge can have on your future. If you or a loved one are facing a Georgia criminal, juvenile, or traffic law matter, contact us to schedule a complimentary Defense Strategy Meeting by calling 770-720-6336, where can help you understand all of your options.
If you aren’t ready to schedule your Defense Strategy Meeting, please click here to download a free copy of our book, 5 Things Not to Do After You’ve Been Charged with a Crime.