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How do I clear my criminal record in Tennessee?

If you have a criminal record in the state of Tennessee, you may be wondering how you can expunge your record so you can move forward without having your record follow you. A criminal record may impede your chances of getting a job or entering an educational institution, so it is in your best interest to try to clear your record as soon as you are legally eligible to do so.

There are several steps you must follow if you wish to clear your criminal record. You also need to know the legal requirements surrounding this procedure. Here is some information to help you start the process.

Determining eligibility for expungement

Not all criminal records are eligible for expungement. You first need to understand if your case meets the eligibility requirements. For example, if your arrest did not lead to charges, if your charges were dismissed or a judge or jury found you not guilty, you may be able to clear your record. 

When you review your record, you may see that there are court costs you have not paid. If you see the phrase "dismissed with costs," you will need to either pay the fees or seek to have them waived. 

Filing for expungement

Since expungement is a court-ordered process, you have to apply to the Tennessee Courts for the order. You have to file for expungement in the court where the matter originated. Be sure you get all the information about your particular case. You can request your record from the court clerk's office. 

Following the timetable

Criminal cases are not eligible for expungement until three years from the date of a judgment. The process takes 60 days to complete. With so much at stake, you should make an effort to clear your criminal record as soon as you are legally able to do so.

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