Many years ago I was lecturing a person about being irresponsible; looking back, I was an ass. The prospective client rebuked me and said that if it weren't for people who make mistakes in judgment, I would not have a job. I have remembered that comment for almost 20 years.
People make mistakes. A misdemeanor is by definition a violation of law that can happen to anyone in all walks of life. I learned more from that gentleman who did not hire me than from any subsequent client who did. I learned that being human was living through and correcting a series of mistakes and misunderstandings.
However, the trend in modern society is to overly punish and sanction people who have committed their first misdemeanor offense. Judges and prosecutors run for office on platforms that promise to crack down on criminals, but haven't we done enough head-cracking for one state?
We have so over-criminalized Georgia that many of our young people carry criminal histories throughout their lives. That is morally wrong. The difference between those who are caught and those who are lucky enough to get away can have a profound effect on a person's life opportunities.
What I propose for Georgia is for any person who has committed a misdemeanor offense between the ages of 17-29 to have an automatic expungement after five years of good behavior. It is better for our state to give people a second chance to avoid being marginalized by one mistake.
I made a mistake when talking to a person who needed my help. I am glad my mistake did not ruin my law practice.