Tennessee allows criminal charges and convictions to be expunged from public records under certain conditions. A person may wish to expunge criminal charges and convictions to avoid having them appear on background checks or for other reasons. Certain eligibility requirements must be met by persons seeking expungement. There are also limitations placed upon the nature and number of convictions which may be expunged. Only the most common circumstances are addressed below. You should consult with a criminal defense attorney to see if you qualify.
Dismissal and Acquittal
A person charged, but not convicted, may immediately seek to have charges expunged under the following circumstances.
- A charge is dismissed by the Court.
- The State does not prosecute a charge. This is known as a “nolle prosequi.”
- A Grand Jury returns a “No True Bill” or fails to indict.
- A person is acquitted after trial.
Diversion and Retirement
A person who has successfully completed a pre-trial diversion pursuant to §40-15-102, judicial diversion pursuant to §40-35-313, or a retirement, may seek expungement under the following circumstances.
- The person has successfully completed all conditions of the diversion or retirement.
- The term of the diversion or retirement has been completed.
- All court costs have been paid.
- The diverted offense was not a sexual offense or violent sexual offense.
Expungement of Felony Convictions
A person convicted of a felony may seek expungement under the following circumstances:
- The sentence was three (3) years or less.
- The offense was committed after November 1, 1989.
- The conviction must be for one of the following offenses:
- Section 39-11-411 — Accessory after the fact;
- Section 39-13-306 — Custodial interference where person not voluntarily returned by defendant;
- Section 39-13-604(c)(2) — Knowing dissemination of illegally recorded cellular communication;
- Section 39-14-105(a)(2) — Theft;
- Section 39-14-114(c) — Forgery;
- Section 39-14-115 — Criminal simulation;
- Section 39-14-116(c) — Hindering secured creditors;
- Section 39-14-117(b) — Fraud in insolvency;
- Section 39-14-118 — Fraudulent use of credit card or debit card;
- Section 39-14-121 — Worthless checks;
- Section 39-14-130 — Destruction of valuable papers;
- Section 39-14-131 — Destruction or concealment of will;
- Section 39-14-133 — Fraudulent or false insurance claim;
- Section 39-14-137(b) — Fraudulent qualifying for set aside programs;
- Section 39-14-138 — Theft of trade secrets;
- Section 39-14-139 — Sale of recorded live performances without consent;
- Section 39-14-143 — Unauthorized solicitation for police, judicial, or safety associations;
- Section 39-14-147(f) — Fraudulent transfer of motor vehicle with value of less than $20,000;
- Section 39-14-149 — Communication theft (fine only);
- Section 39-14-154 — Home improvement fraud;
- Section 39-14-402 — Burglary of an auto;
- Section 39-14-408 — Vandalism;
- Section 39-14-411 — Utility service interruption or property damage;
- Section 39-14-505 — Aggravated criminal littering (2nd and 3rd offenses involving certain weight or volume);
- Section 39-14-602 — Violation of Tennessee Personal and Commercial Computer Act;
- Section 39-14-603 — Unsolicited bulk electronic mail;
- Section 39-16-201 — Taking telecommunication device into penal institution;
- Section 39-16-302 — Impersonation of licensed professional;
- Section 39-16-603 — Evading arrest in motor vehicle where no risk to bystanders;
- Section 39-16-609(e) — Failure to appear (felony);
- Section 39-17-106 — Gifts of adulterated candy or food;
- Section 39-17-417(f) — Manufacture, delivery, sale, or possession of Schedule V drug (fine not greater than $5,000);
- Section 39-17-417(g)(1) — Manufacture, delivery, sale, or possession of not less than one-half ounce (½ oz.) and not more than ten pounds (10 lbs.) of Schedule VI drug marijuana (fine not greater than $2,500);
- Section 39-17-417(h) — Manufacture, delivery, sale or possession of Schedule VII drug (fine not greater than $1,000);
- Section 39-17-418(e) — Simple possession or casual exchange (3rd offense);
- Section 39-17-422(c) — Selling glue for unlawful purpose;
- Section 39-17-423(c) — Counterfeit controlled substance;
- Section 39-17-425(b)(1), (2), (3) — Unlawful drug paraphernalia uses and activities;
Expungement of Misdemeanor Convictions
A person convicted of a misdemeanor may seek expungement under the following circumstances:
- The offense was committed after November 1, 1989.
- The conviction was not for one of the following offenses:
- Section 39-13-101(a)(1) and (2) — Assault;
- Section 39-13-102 — Aggravated assault of public employee;
- Section 39-13-111 — Domestic assault;
- Section 39-13-113(g) — Violation of protective or restraining order;
- Section 39-13-113(h) — Possession of firearm while order of protection in effect;
- Section 39-13-511 — Public indecency 3rd or subsequent offense;
- Section 39-13-511 — Indecent exposure (victim under 13 years of age) or by person in penal institution exposing to a guard;
- Section 39-13-526(b)(1) and (2) — Violation of community supervision by sex offender not constituting offense or constituting misdemeanor;
- Section 39-13-528 — Soliciting minor to engage in Class E sexual offense;
- Section 39-13-509 — Unlawful sexual contact by authority figure;
- Section 39-14-118 — Fraudulent use of credit/debit card (up to $500);
- Section 39-14-304 — Reckless burning;
- Section 39-14-406 — Aggravated criminal trespass of a habitation, hospital, or on the campus of any public or private school, or on railroad property;
- Section 39-15-201(b)(3) — Coercion — abortion;
- Section 39-15-210 — Third or subsequent violation of Child Rape Protection Act of 2006;
- Section 39-15-401(a) — Child abuse (where child is between ages 7-17);
- Section 39-15-401(b) — Child neglect and endangerment (where child is between ages 7-13);
- Section 39-15-404 — Enticing a child to purchase intoxicating liquor — purchasing alcoholic beverage for child;
- Section 39-15-404 — Allowing person ages 18-21 to consume alcohol on person’s premises;
- Section 39-15-414 — Harboring or hiding a runaway child;
- Section 39-17-315 — Stalking;
- Section 39-17-431 — Unlawful dispensing of immediate methamphetamine precursor, sale of meth precursor to person on methamphetamine registry or purchase by someone on registry, possess meth precursor with intent to sell to another for unlawful use, purchase meth precursor for another for unlawful use, purchase meth precursor at different times and places to circumvent limits, and use false ID to purchase meth precursor for purpose of circumventing limits;
- Section 39-17-437 — Using substance or device to falsify drug test results and selling synthetic urine;
- Section 39-17-438 — Possession of the hallucinogenic plant Salvia Divinorum or the synthetic cannabinoids;
- Section 39-17-452 — Sale or possession of synthetic derivatives or analogues of methcathinone;
- Section 39-17-902(a) — Importing, preparing, distributing, processing, or appearing in obscene material or Class A misdemeanors;
- Section 39-17-907 — Unlawful exhibition of obscene material;
- Section 39-17-911 — Sale or loan to minors of harmful materials;
- Section 39-17-918 — Unlawful massage or exposure of erogenous areas;
- Section 39-17-1307(f)(1)(A) — Possession of firearm after being convicted of misdemeanor crime of domestic violence;
- Section 39-17-1307(f)(1)(B) — Possession of firearm while order of protection is in effect;
- Section 39-17-1307(f)(1)(C) — Possession of firearm while prohibited by state or federal law;
- Section 39-17-1312 — Failure of adult to report juvenile carrying gun in school;
- Section 39-17-1320(a) — Nonparent providing handgun to a juvenile;
- Section 39-17-1352 — Failure to surrender handgun carry permit upon suspension;
- Section 39-17-1363 — Violent felon owning or possessing vicious dog;
- Section 39-13-101(a)(3) — Assault (offensive or provocative physical contact);
- Section 39-13-511(a) — Public indecency — first or second offense (punishable by $500 fine only);
- Section 39-13-511(b)(2) — Indecent exposure (victim 13 years old or older);
- Section 39-15-412(b) — Disseminating smoking paraphernalia to minor after 3 prior violations;
- Section 39-16-404 — Misuse of official information by public servant;
- Section 39-17-317 — Disorderly conduct at funerals;
- Section 39-17-715 — Possession of or consuming alcoholic beverages on K-12 school premises;
- Section 39-17-914 — Display for sale or rental of material harmful to minors; and
- Section 55-10-401 — Driving under the influence of an intoxicant;
Petitioners seeking expungement must meet the following additional requirements:
- Conviction must be for an eligible offense.
- Must not have been convicted of more than two (2) offenses which may be two (2) misdemeanors or one (1) misdemeanor and one (1) felony.
- Must have completed sentence or probation.
- Paid all court costs, fines, and restitution.
- Five (5) years have elapsed since completion of sentence imposed for most recent offense.
- Can only apply for expungement of two (2) offenses once.
Process for Seeking Expungement
A petition seeking the expungement must be filed with the court. The District Attorney has 60 days to respond and submit recommendations to the court. The District Attorney and petitioner may file evidence to be considered by the court. The court must weigh the interests of petitioner against the interests of justice and public safety. If denied, the petitioner cannot petition again for two years.
Contact a Tennessee Criminal Defense Attorney
Contact a Tennessee criminal defense attorney to see if you are eligible for expungement. David Scott has been a criminal defense attorney since 1996 . Contact David Scott or Call (615) 896-7656 today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your expungement.