Georgia is like many states in that it has a “first offender” law, allowing for a person who meets certain qualifications to avoid a conviction on their record and have the record of the case sealed from the official criminal history. In order to qualify, a person must never have been convicted of a felony in any state, never been sentenced as a first offender, and the charge must not have been a DUI, among other considerations. A person’s lawyer must ask for first offender status and the judge must agree. If the judge denies first offender status, there is no right to appeal. The Augusta Chronicle reports on a man sentenced to probation under the first offender law for his role in a deadly accident.
20-year-old Jackson Bleu Pentecost was sentenced to six years probation for his role in the death of his friend, Tyler Crawford, who was 25.
On the night of the incident, Pentecost, Crawford, and another friend, 20-year-old William Clayton Myers all went out “dirt roading” on August 14, 2016, at about 3 a.m. They all had a few beers that night.
Crawford, who had been in the back seat, had been hanging out the window of Pentecost’s Jeep Cherokee when the vehicle slid. Crawford was thrown from the vehicle and suffered fatal injuries.
Pentecost’s vehicle was not registered and he was uninsured. When he realized he would be in trouble, Pentecost asked Myers to lie and say that Crawford had been in another vehicle and Myers had been driving.
Crawford’s family asked for leniency, saying that Pentecost was mourning the loss of his friend.
Under the first offender act, Pentecost pleaded guilty to one count each of vehicular homicide, reckless driving, no insurance, and no registration. He was sentenced to six-years probation with conditions.
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