Getting a Clean Slate: The Expungement Process in Tennessee
The opportunity to erase criminal convictions is extraordinarily good news for people searching for employment, hoping to obtain a promotion, obtain a handgun carry permit, restore voting rights, trying to improve their credit rating, or applying to college or graduate school programs.
You may be eligible for a free expungement in Tennessee if:1. You had charges against you dismissed.
2. A "no true bill" was returned by a grand jury
3. You were arrested and released without being charged
4. You went to trial, which resulted in a not guilty verdict
5. The case resulted in a nolle prosequi (prosecution will not be pursued)
6. An order of protection was successfully defended and denied by a court following a hearing
You may be eligible for an expungement in Tennessee if you were convicted of:BUI, Disorderly Conduct, DWI, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Marijuana, Public Intoxication, Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment, Resisting Arrest, Simple Possession of Drugs, Shoplifting, Theft, Underage Consumption, Underage DWI, Underage Possession of Alcohol, and Vandalism. The aforementioned crimes are not an exhaustive list, however, these are the most common crimes that are expunged. Most crimes of a violent nature are not eligible to be expunged.
You are only eligible if you have one or two criminal convictionsThose who have been convicted of more than two criminal offenses (including crimes from out of state or in federal court) cannot have their convictions erased. (Whether "one criminal offense" of the two permissible convictions will be interpreted by the courts to include multiple crimes arising out of the same incident has not yet been determined).
Five years has to have passed since you completed your sentenceA petition to have your crime erased from your Tennessee criminal history may be filed 5 years after the completion of your sentence.
You must have completed all of your requirements stemming from your convictionAll of the court costs, fines, and fees associated with your case must be paid in full before you may petition the court for expungement of your Tennessee conviction. All other conditions associated with your probation must have been fulfilled and any imprisonment must have been concluded before filing the Petition.
For most crimes, the offense had to have occurred after November 1, 1989The new law applies to Tennessee crimes committed on or after November 1, 1989. If your conviction is based upon a crime that occurred prior to this date, you should contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to determine whether you are eligible.
The Judge is not required to grant your expungementThe law states, "In making a decision on the petition, the court shall consider all evidence and weigh the interests of the petitioner against the best interest of justice and public safety.” After hearing arguments from both sides, a Tennessee judge may decide to deny a petition for expungement that does not serve the interests of justice and public safety.