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Can a criminal record in Tennessee be expunged?

Having a criminal record can seriously affect a person in Tennessee, even if they are ultimately found not guilty of the charges. A criminal record could impose a significant barrier when it comes to finding a job, securing housing or seeking higher education. For some people, however, it is possible to have their criminal record expunged.

When a criminal legal record is expunged, this means that the person is lawfully able to deny that they ever had a criminal record. It will generally be wiped out in the eyes of the law.

Of course, not every criminal record can be expunged. A record can only be expunged in certain circumstances. One is if the charges against the person were dismissed. Another is if a grand jury returned a "no true bill." A third is if the person was placed under arrest but was ultimately not charged with a crime and was released. An expungement may also be sought if the prosecution decided not to pursue a case or there was a trial, but the person was found not guilty. Finally, an expungement may be sought if an order of protection against the person was denied in a hearing.

If a person is eligible for expungement, there are certain steps they must take in order to have their records expunged. Certain forms and information will need to be submitted to the court in which the criminal record originated. This evidence will then be submitted to a judge and from there go to the appropriate agency. Keep in mind that this is only a very general overview of the expungement process, and there may be additional steps to take that are not listed here.

In the end, for some people a criminal or arrest record need not follow them forever. Expungement may be an option in some cases. When it is, a person may want to secure the advice of a criminal defense attorney before proceeding so that they understand what they have to do to have their record expunged.

Source:, "Guide To Expungements In Tennessee," accessed Feb. 25, 2018

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Mathis, Bates & Klinghard PLLC
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