Clearing Your Criminal Record Through Expungement

What Is An Expungement?

According to Tennessee law, an expungement (also known as "expunction") is the process by which public records of criminal conviction and/or arrest are removed by order of the court. The records are considered nonexistent, and the person who is the subject of the records may deny the full occurrence.

Who Is Eligible For An Expungement?

1) A person:

  1. Whose charge has been dismissed
  2. With a no true bill returned by a grand jury
  3. Who received a verdict of not guilty, whether by the judge or by a jury
  4. Who was arrested and released without being charged
  5. Who successfully completed a pretrial or judicial diversion program
  6. Who is now eligible for expungement per the law that took effect July 1, 2012 (see below for info).

2) NEW LAW: Expungement of convictions A new expungement law (Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-32-101(g)) went into effect on July 1, 2012. It allows people who have been convicted of certain misdemeanors or certain Class E felonies to have their records expunged by entering a petition of expungement.

The new law divides offenses into those committed before and after Nov. 1, 1989; however, the offenses listed that occurred before or after this date are similar. Many misdemeanors qualify for expungement under the new law. Class E felonies that qualify for expungement under the new law if committed after Nov. 1, 1989, include (among others):

  • Certain drug crimes
  • Certain theft crimes
  • Fraudulent use of a debit or credit card
  • Passing worthless checks
  • Automobile burglary
  • Vandalism

You must file your petition for expungement in the court where you were convicted. Once you have filed your petition and paid the filing fee, the clerk will schedule a date for you to appear before a criminal court judge. The judge will then evaluate your petition and decide whether to grant it. You can resubmit a denied petition for expungement after two years.

How Does Someone Qualify For An Expungement?

To qualify for expungement under this new law, you must meet the following basic requirements:

  • The sentence for your conviction must not have exceeded three years.
  • You must not have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to two or more crimes arising from separate criminal events.
  • You must not have been convicted of any other offense at any time.
  • You must have completed all terms of parole, probation or imprisonment. Also, at least five years must have passed since you completed your full sentence.
  • If the conditions of your sentence required abstaining from alcohol or drug dependency or abuse, then you must have done so for at least one year.
  • If your offense was a misdemeanor, it must not have involved (among other things):
    • Minor victims (for example: child neglect, abuse or endangerment)
    • Domestic violence (for example: violation of a protective order, domestic assault or possession of a firearm while a protective order is in effect)
    • Certain drug offenses
    • Driving under the influence of an intoxicant
  • If your offense was a felony, it must not have involved (among other things):
    • Causing harm to a minor
    • Causing death or serious bodily injury
    • Causing greater than $25,000 in damages
    • Requiring mandatory registration as a sex offender
    • Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants
    • The distribution or sale of certain drugs
    • Unlawfully possessing or using a deadly weapon

If you meet the above criteria, then you can file a petition for expungement by doing the following:

  • Obtaining a certified copy of your conviction from the clerk of the court where you were convicted
  • Obtaining a statement or receipt from the clerk of the court where you were convicted showing that you have paid all fines, court costs, restitution and other assessments
  • Obtaining an affidavit (an official statement) from the agency responsible for supervising your release stating that you have completed all conditions of supervised or unsupervised release (for example: community service, probation, or parole)
  • Making a copy of your photo identification or government-issued identification and bringing it with you to the clerk's office
  • Paying a filing fee of $350 to the clerk of the court where you were convicted
  • Paying any other administrative fees to the clerk's office

PLEASE NOTE: Even if the court grants your petition for expungement, you must take further action to regain citizenship rights or voting rights that you lost because of the conviction.

3) A person who is exonerated by the governor under T.C.A. § 40-27-109

4) A person whose charge was dismissed and the proceedings against the person discharged under TCA § 40-35-313, except if such discharge and dismissal were for a sexual offense

Our Defense Team Can Help You

The lawyers at McKellar & Easter, Attorneys at Law, are qualified and experienced in handling expungements in Tennessee. If you would like assistance with filing a petition for expungement or have a question regarding whether your charges or convictions are eligible for expungement, please contact one of our attorneys by calling 865-566-0125 or filling out this contact form to schedule a free initial telephone consultation.