Expunging (Erasing) Your Criminal Record

If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor crime, but were never convicted, you may petition the court to have any related records expunged if you meet the following requirements:

  • The charge(s) against you were dismissed
  • A “no true bill” was returned by a grand jury
  • The court entered a “nolle prosequi” in your case (the prosecutor voluntarily “abandoned” the criminal charge(s))
  • You were acquitted of the crime

(Tennessee Code Annotated § 40-32-101.)

But what if you were convicted of a crime? Prior to July 1, 2012, people with criminal convictions in the state of Tennessee were unable to have their criminal records expunged under any circumstances. However, expunging convictions of certain misdemeanors and certain felonies may now be possible if specific requirements are met.

Expunging your criminal record means that it will no longer be visible to the general public (although certain law enforcement and other high security persons may still be able to view the legal records). Accordingly, you may choose not to disclose the prior conviction to anyone, including potential employers. Having your record expunged can be beneficial for you when trying to obtain employment, credit, education, housing, or in other situations.

Effective July 1, 2012 though, certain misdemeanor convictions and certain felony convictions (as opposed to arrests, dismissals, or acquittals) may also be eligible for expungement. You cannot have more than one criminal conviction – ever – including crimes committed out-of-state or in federal court. Moreover, all conditions associated with your probation must be fulfilled and any imprisonment must be completed before you can file your petition. Furthermore, all court costs, fines, and fees must be paid in full.

This law only applies to certain crimes committed after November 1, 1989. The Petition for Expungement may not be filed until after the passage of five years from the completion of your sentence.

As referenced above, it is very important to note that not all felony and misdemeanor crimes are eligible to be expunged. Felony crimes are serious and often involve harsh penalties and high fines. Because of the aggravated nature of felony crimes, some are unable to be expunged from a criminal record. However, there are several felony crimes that may be eligible for expungement, such as certain theft or forgery crimes. Click here to see the full list of felony crimes that may be eligible for expungement. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes that are typically punishable by less than one year of incarceration and lower fines than felonies. Many misdemeanor crimes are eligible for expungement, with the noteworthy exceptions of DUI and many assault charges. Click here to see the full list of misdemeanor crimes that cannot be expunged from the public record.

If you believe you may be eligible for expungement of your criminal record, contact the criminal defense lawyers from Oberman & Rice for assistance. At Oberman & Rice, we believe “Your Future is Our Present Concern®.” We are committed to representing our clients with unparalleled attention and communication – 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Call Oberman & Rice at (865) 249-7200 or fill out our online contact form to speak with one of our Knoxville criminal defense lawyers.