What is an Expungement and Can I Get One?

By Jedidiah McKeehan

So, individuals who have had an encounter with the law occasionally ask me if what they were charged with or what they pled guilty to is able to be expunged.

When a charge is expunged, in the eyes of the law that charge never happened.  The official records of the charge are destroyed and the individual who obtains the expungement is able to honestly state on job application and other forms that they were not charged with the crime that was expunged.

But what charges are available for expungement and how do I go about getting one?  Knox County Clerk’s office actually has a fantastic website that walks you through the process to determine if you are eligible and they even have a couple of afternoons a week where you can go down to the courthouse and they have individuals who will help you fill out the forms to obtain your expungement.

If you have charges that were dismissed or found not guilty (essentially you were not found guilty or you did not enter a plea), then those charges are eligible for expungement.

Next, if you have charges that resulted in you pleading guilty but you were placed on judicial or pretrial diversion and you successfully complete probation, then those charges are eligible for expungement.  A diversion is typically only available to people charged with their first crime ever.  It is a one shot chance at getting your first charge resolved and potentially expunged.

Finally, if you are convicted of a crime after a trial or by pleading guilty, some charges can still be expunged.  Those charges are listed in Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-32-101(g).  Some notable charges that are never able to expunged are assault charges and driving under the influence charges.

I would encourage you if you have ever wondered if you could have an old charge expunged to reach out to an attorney or check with the clerk’s office in the county where you live to see if you can clean up that old criminal record.

 

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.

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