Having certain offenses on your criminal record has the capacity to come back to negatively affect your life, but it does not necessarily have to remain that way. If you can meet the eligibility criteria, you may be able to request to have your Tennessee criminal record expunged, which essentially means that your criminal record will not be revealed to people outside the criminal justice system.
So, how can you know if your crime and situation make you eligible for expungement under state laws?
Understanding Tennessee's expungement criteria
You may be able to pursue a criminal record expungement in Tennessee if your offense or situation meets one or more of the following criteria. If you had charges filed against you, but a judge ultimately dismissed those charges, you may be able to move forward with an expungement. You may, too, be able to do so if a grand jury returned a "no true bill" in response to your case, or if authorities placed you under arrest for a particular crime but ultimately released you without filing charges.
You may also be successful in your pursuit of an expungement if your case went to trial and a judge or jury deemed you not guilty, or if your case led to a "nolle prosequi" decision, meaning you never underwent prosecution. Finally, you may also be able to seek an expungement if someone filed an order of protection against you and that order never came into effect, either because you were successful in your defense or because a court denied the order.
Pursuing an expungement
If you find that you do, in fact, meet the eligibility criteria, your next step will typically be to file for expungement in the court where your matter arose in the first place. After indicating which criminal charge you are hoping to have expunged, a judge will rule on your request.
In some cases, you may find that you can get an expungement without paying. In others, you may need to pay court costs before the expungement will be issued.
Not every criminal charge can be expunged. An experienced criminal defense attorney can review your situation and explain your legal options.