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Understanding when expungement is an option - II

Expungement, meaning the process of removing arrests, charges or convictions from a person's criminal record, has recently become a hot topic of conversation here in Tennessee owing to the enactment of a new law lowering the felony expunction fee by $170.

Given this reality and the fact that it likely left people with questions about how expungement works in the Volunteer State, our blog began taking a closer look at the process, starting with eligibility. We'll continue with these efforts in today's post, examining what happens if an expungement order is actually granted.

It's important to reiterate that expungement is a process that needs to be initiated and followed through with by the individual seeking to clear their record -- or with the guidance of a legal professional. In other words, it's not automatic.

The process

If an expungement order calling for an arrest or charge to be removed from an individual's record is issued by the court, it will be sent to multiple law enforcement agencies, including the agency that made the arrest, the county jail, the Tennessee Department of Correction and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Upon receipt of the order, each of these entities will proceed with their own internal procedures for removing or sealing the applicable records. Most notably, the TBI will do the following:

  • Delete the charge from the criminal record
  • Delete criminal fingerprints (if the individual has no other charges)
  • Forward the expungement order to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the necessary processing  

As you might imagine, the process of clearing a criminal record can take some time. However, expungements can be expedited in certain circumstances, such as adoptions or fingerprinting related to employment to name only a few.

It's important to note that the processing of an expungement order regarding a conviction for either a misdemeanor or Class E felony is somewhat different, with the matter going through the District Attorney's office located in the county in which the original arrest occurred.  

Here's hoping the foregoing discussion has proven helpful. If you would like to learn more about expungement or are facing any manner of criminal charges, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

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Mr. McKellar was voted by his peers as a “Top Attorney” by Knoxville’s CityView Magazine in its 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 editions. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, Mr. McKellar was selected as a member of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by the National Trial Lawyers.

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