The best answer for keeping your record "clean" of criminal convictions is to avoid getting convicted of a crime. However, that is not always an option for people. Up until July of this year Tennessee allowed for certain misdemeanor arrests, but not convictions, to be expunged from someone's record provided they successfully complete a judicial or pre-trial diversion program. This past May Governor Bill Haslam signed into law House Bill 2865 which amends Tennessee's expungement law,
Tennessee Code Annotated § 40-32-101, and allows certain felony convictions to be expunged. The new amended law is intended for those people who were convicted of relatively minor, mostly non-violent, crimes but are otherwise productive members of society and have been since the offense took place. Under the new law, qualifying felons may lawfully own and carry a firearm once their public record is expunged. This is a major benefit to qualifying felons as it restores once prohibited felons' Second Amendment rights, a benefit previously unavailable.
The new law requires the felon to file a petition with the court where they were convicted. Further, the law requires that the felon not have any convictions in any other state or federal court, other than the conviction the felon is seeking to have expunged. There can be no outstanding fines, court costs or restitution, and at least five years must have passed since the sentence imposed by the conviction has been completed.
Some of the felonies eligible for expungement under the new law include Class E felonies, provided that the person was convicted after November 1, 1989, and the sentence was for a time of three years or less. Other eligible felonies include some types of theft, forgery, fraudulent use of a credit card, worthless checks, burglary of an auto and several types of drug charges. Several misdemeanor convictions remain eligible as well; however those involving physical force, minors, or sex offenses remain prohibited from expungment.
To discuss your expungement options, or for assistance filing a petition, feel free to contact our office to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney today.