Lee Davis: Tennessee’s New Expungement Statute Goes Into Effect July 1

Friday, May 25, 2012 - by Lee Davis
Lee Davis
Lee Davis

Criminal Procedure - As enacted, this law authorizes persons to petition for expungement of records of conviction for certain non-violent, non-sexual misdemeanors and Class E felonies 

A record of a criminal conviction can have wide-ranging consequences from difficulty securing employment to the loss of the right to vote or own a firearm.  When a conviction is expunged, the record of the conviction is no longer available to the public, and the person receiving the expungement may deny involvement in the underlying offense.   

Currently, under Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-32-101, a person can petition the court for expungement of public records involving a criminal offense, but the record will be expunged only if the charge was dismissed, no true bill was returned by the grand jury, or the person was arrested and released without being charged.  Pursuant to an amendment to this statute that will go into effect on July 1, a person may petition the court for expungement of an actual conviction.   

The person seeking the expungement must meet certain requirements, and not all offenses are eligible.  A person may not seek expungement if she has been convicted of any other offense at any time.  In addition, at least five years must have elapsed since the person seeking expungement fulfilled the requirements of her sentence.  Finally, the conviction is not eligible for expungement if the sentence imposed was a term of more than three years imprisonment.  

The amendment sets out separate but similar standards for convictions based on offenses committed before and after November 1, 1989.  For post-1989 offenses, there is a list of eligible Class E felonies, including but not limited to theft; fraudulent use of a credit or debit card; worthless checks; car burglary; vandalism; and some drug offenses.  

Misdemeanors are also eligible for expungement subject to a long list of exceptions.  Offenses related to domestic violence are, notably, not eligible, including domestic assault, violation of a protective order, and possession of a firearm while a protective order is in effect.  Also excluded are a variety of offenses that involve minor victims, including child abuse, neglect, or endangerment.  Finally, a conviction for driving under the influence of an intoxicant is also not eligible for expungement.  

Generally, convictions committed before November 1, 1989, are eligible.  Exceptions exist, however, for inerently dangerous offenses or those that require registration as a sex offender, involve intoxicants and a motor vehicle, involve the sale or distribution of some classes of drugs, or that result in serious bodily injury, harm to a minor, or damages in excess of $25,000.   

The legislature has directed the district attorneys general conference to create a simple form that lay people can use to petition for expungement.  A $350 filing fee is also required.  If the petition is granted, the conviction is deemed to have never occurred, and a copy of the expungement “shall be sufficient proof that the person named in the order is no longer under any disability, disqualification or other adverse consequence resulting from the expunged conviction.”  If the petition is denied, the petitioner may file again after two years.  


(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at lee@davis-hoss.com or at 266-0605.)



Larrimore Elected President Of Paty, Rymer, Ulin & Larramore, P.C.

Paty, Rymer & Ulin, P.C., announced the election of Randall D. Larramore to serve as the President of the corporation. The firm also announced that its name has been changed to Paty, Rymer, Ulin & Larramore, P.C.  Mr. Larramore received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Chattanooga in 1989, and received a Masters in Public Administration ... (click for more)

CPR Cell Phone Repair Holds Grand Opening At Hixson Location

CPR Cell Phone Repair Hixson will hold a Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting on Tuesday, Aug. 5 at 5425 Hwy 153 Suite A-1. The Chattanooga Are Chamber of Commerce will coordinate this event  at 11 a.m. CPR Cell Phone Repair has been specialized in repairing, buying, selling, and trading cell phones, smart phones, computers, laptops, game consoles, cameras, mp3 players, ... (click for more)

City Council Presents Potential Ordinance To Address Noise Level Downtown

Members of the Chattanooga City Council presented a potential ordinance to address concerns about the noise level downtown. If passed, the ordinance will put limits to both dB(A) and dB(C) levels of sound. It was noted, "When we compare our dB level, it is clear that Chattanooga is lower than Nashville and Knoxville." However, this comparison only takes dB(A) levels into consideration. ... (click for more)

Harr Outlines $40 Million Plan For Chattanooga Light Rail System

Outgoing Chamber of Commerce President Ron Harr on Monday outlined a $40 million plan for a Chattanooga light rail system that would serve not only downtown, but also the Airport and the Enterprise South Industrial Park. In a speech to the Chattanooga Engineers Club, Mr. Harr said most cities looking at such an ambitious plan "would be facing costs of over a billion dollars." ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Wamp Refuses To Stoop

With less than two weeks before the Aug. 7 th election and the last week of early voting now underway in Hamilton County, Congressional challenger Weston Wamp sounded upbeat and relaxed early yesterday afternoon. “I’m pleased to say that I believe we are right where we need to be … maybe even more than we had hoped.” Wamp, who is challenging two-term incumbent Chuck Fleishmann ... (click for more)