Many people with a prior criminal record contact us with questions about having their record expunged, which is a legal procedure that removes a conviction from your record.
Unfortunately, Tennessee laws put many restrictions on who can obtain an expungement, but there are a few circumstances in which people can have their record cleared.
Expungement in Tennessee – Frequently Asked Questions
The following FAQs reveal many common circumstances in which people can get an expungement of their convictions in Tennessee.
I have one, and only one, conviction in Tennessee. Can I get that conviction expunged?
Maybe. There are several rules for when you can get a conviction expunged in Tennessee. If the offense occurred after November 1, 1989, you must meet all of these conditions:
- You must have completed all the terms of your sentencing and paid all fines and costs;
- At least five years must have elapsed from the completion of your sentence; and
- Your offense must be eligible for expungement. Here’s a breakdown of which offenses are eligible:
- (See T.C.A. § 40-32-101(g) (2013))
If the offense occurred before November 1, 1989, there are different conditions. You must have served 3 years or less, and the offense cannot have involved force against another person, a deadly weapon, alcohol/drugs and a vehicle, Schedule I-IV drugs, a minor as a victim, or a loss of $25,000, among other factors.
Alternatively, you can also have a conviction expunged if:
- The offense was “non-violent,”
- You receive a favorable vote from the Board of Parole, and
- You obtain a pardon from the governor.
- (See T.C.A. § 40-32-101(h) (2013)).
I have two or more convictions in Tennessee. Can I get any of those convictions expunged?
Maybe. If all convictions are subject to expungement per the above rules, there are two situations where multiple convictions can be expunged:
- If all of your convictions arose from the SAME incident and were part of the same court case, each conviction can be expunged, as long as they each meet the criteria above.
- If you have exactly TWO total convictions from DIFFERENT incidents, both convictions can be expunged as long as they meet the criteria above AND at least one is a misdemeanor (in other words, they cannot both be felonies).
If you have ANY convictions that are not subject to expungement on your record, none of your convictions may be expunged, unless you obtain a pardon for a “non-violent” offense.
My case in Tennessee was dismissed or retired. Can I get my record expunged?
Yes. If a case is dismissed for any reason, it can be expunged. If a case was retired, it can be expunged at the end of the retirement period (often six months or one year).
I received judicial diversion in Tennessee. Can I get my record expunged?
Yes. Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. 40-35-313, your case is eligible to be expunged once you have completed your sentence and paid all costs, unless you violated your probation and the court revoked your diversion eligibility.
I have one or more convictions outside of Tennessee. Can I get my record expunged?
The answer to this question varies greatly from state to state. That’s why it’s important to consult an attorney in the state where conviction occurred.
The above answers are generalizations only. If you think you may be entitled to an expungement of your conviction, please contact us.