A criminal conviction is a mark on your record that can significantly harm your future opportunities in life, including employment, housing, and retaining various civil rights you inherited or received as a citizen. The stigma of a criminal record is also ever present.
Nearly 80 million Americans have a rap sheet – that is, they have a criminal record of some type, even if it is for the most minor criminal offense on the books. However, a particular legal proceeding known as expungement can erase that record for good and help people recover all of those lost opportunities and rights.
Qualifying for expungement in Tennessee
In the State of Tennessee, individuals with a criminal record may take advantage of expungement under very narrow conditions. These include:
- Having an offense eligible for expungement – this would be limited to:
- Class A misdemeanors (unless excluded by the State of Tennessee)
- Class B and Class C misdemeanors
- Class E felonies allowed by the State
- Five years having elapsed from the time of sentencing
- Completing all sentence terms and requirements (including payment of all fines and costs)
If you incur an additional conviction, you may not be eligible for expungement. Under Tennessee law, two unrelated incidents may not be expunged except when one is a non-violent offense for which you were pardoned. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you take advantage of any eligibility you may have to benefit from Tennessee’s expungement laws.
Tennessee expungement law changes
The expungement laws in Tennessee were modified in 2017. The most consequential changes involve what may or may not be removed from a person’s criminal record. In accordance with Public Chapter 298, concerning two convictions that are unrelated, the modified law permits expungement when:
- Neither convictions are for felony offenses
- Each criminal offense is independently eligible for expungement
- The person’s record contains no other convictions
If for the same incident you have received multiple convictions, you may have all of the convictions expunged provided that each offense has its own eligibility and is authorized for such consideration.
Another modification to the expungement law in 2017, in accordance with Public Chapter 456, is the reduced cost of expungement to $280 (formerly $450). The actual cost is only $180. However, the Clerk of the Court may add $100 to the total cost.
In addition, as outlined in Public Chapter 358, the partial expungement law has been changed. Under the old law you could request that a charge be removed when a multiple count indictment resulted in a conviction and dismissal. The modification of the law enables the individual to have the record expunged from government-maintained electronic databases.
In order to successfully have your criminal record expunged, you need the skilled advocacy of an experienced Sevierville criminal defense attorney. At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, we are here to help. Our team serves clients in Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Seymour, and the surrounding areas. To get started with a free case evaluation, call our law office today at 865.280.3686 or complete our contact form.