Major distinctions between the old law and the new changes.
To be expunged under the old law, an arrest must not have resulted in any conviction at the end of the court process, any conviction must have been reversed after some type of appeal, or the original settlement must have been made pursuant some type of diversion program (a first offender type program). Now, a long list of convictions may be expunged if they meet certain criteria. The included link provides the full eight page text of the changes to the law. The new law addresses convictions prior and post November 1, 1989, differently and has dozens of specific included and excluded offenses. The following provides a basic overview of the qualifications for prior convictions occurring since November 1, 1989. Please note that offenses prior to November 1, 1989 are subject to different criteria, and this is merely an overview of the major qualifications and not meant to be an exhaustive examination of all criteria under the statute.
The conviction must be a least 5 years old.
Five years must have passed since the completion of any sentence. If your sentence involved any type of jail sentence, probation or parole, this time period is measured from the date you completed any type of jail or supervision period. For example, if you were convicted of misdemeanor possession of marijuana and received six months of probation, five years must have elapsed since the completion of you probation, which would be five years and six months after your date of conviction.
You must have an otherwise clean record.
You must have no other convictions. You may have no other convictions in Tennessee or any other state or federal jurisdiction for any criminal offense.
You must have successfully completed any sentence.
You must have successfully completed the requirements of any sentence. Sentences often include conditions beyond simply serving jail time or being supervised by probation. You may have been ordered to complete a treatment program, pay restitution or various other conditions.
Only certain offenses can be expunged.
Only certain misdemeanors and class E felonies can be expunged. The law states that all misdemeanors, with 45 specific exceptions, and 38 specific class E felonies may be expunged pursuant to this statute. Refer to the link to the recent legislation to see the full list. The most common felonies that are eligible for expungement include: theft under $1,000, burglary of an automobile, vandalism under $1,000, evading arrest without risk to others and felony marijuana offense involving less than ten pounds. The most common misdemeanors which are not eligible for expungement under this statute include: assault offenses, most domestic offenses, firearm offenses and DUI. Although a DUI may not be expunged, if you were charged with DUI, but convicted of reckless driving or another offense, you may be eligible to have the case expunged.
Again this is not an exhaustive list of all criteria and does not address the criteria for convictions prior to November 1, 1989.
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