People in Tennessee make mistakes from time to time. Some mistakes are innocent and can be rectified quickly, but others can have long-lasting effects that could affect the person for a long time. This is usually what is at stake when one is accused of breaking the law.
Those who are convicted of breaking the law will usually have a mark on their criminal history for a long time to come. This means that an individual may be dealing with the negative impact of a conviction years later when he or she applies for a job or tries to find an apartment. That is why there is a provision in Tennessee law that recognizes that, when people make these types of one-time mistakes, they should be given a chance by disallowing the conviction to affect their lives for a very long time.
This is known as a judicial diversion. Here, a person who is charged with a crime would plead guilty to the offense, but the judge would defer judgment and place the person on probation. If the individual then successfully completes the terms of his or her probation, the charge would be dismissed. The person would then never have a conviction for the offense. He or she could then even go through the expungement process to have the charge sealed.
This is only an option for people who have not been previously convicted of a felony or a Class A misdemeanor, if they served jail time as a result. This is also not an option for people who have been charged with certain sex crimes, DUIs, and Class A or B. Also, in order to qualify for judicial diversion, the charge must be the first time that the person was offered a diversion.
There have been many people in Tennessee who have been charged with crimes after making an uncharacteristically poor decision. Individuals in this situation may have a chance to limit the damage caused by the mistake, though, through a judicial diversion. Experienced attorneys understand how this process plays out and may be able to help advise clients when this may be an option.