A conviction on a criminal record can negatively affect a person’s employment or housing opportunities. For this reason, individuals can remove their charges and convictions from their records by asking the court to expunge them. However, not all crimes are eligible for expungement, and expunging a record doesn’t mean that no one will ever have access to it.
Grounds for expunction
Expunction is the removal of a criminal charge or conviction from a person’s criminal records. In Tennessee, a person can ask the court to expunge their records if they did not have a prior conviction. Many crimes are eligible for expungement, including certain misdemeanors and even some felonies. To qualify for expungement, the accused must fulfill all the requirements of their sentence, including:
- Payment of all fines, restitution and court costs
- Completion of any term of imprisonment or probation
- Meeting all conditions of supervised and unsupervised release
- Remaining free from the dependency on alcohol or another substance (if required by the sentence)
Those who comply with the requirements can expunge their record only after 5 years since the completion of the sentence. For drug crimes, a person must wait 10 years to expunge their record.
People who can access an expunged record
To expunge one’s record is to erase or destroy the criminal record in question. Expunged records are not accessible to the general public, which means that landlords and employers won’t be able to see them. However, that does not mean that absolutely no one can see the record. The Tennessee Code states that the following people can see the expunged record if the accused has another conviction in the future:
- The clerk of the court
- The district attorney general
- The defendant and their attorney
- The circuit or criminal court judge
Apart from those individuals, no one can see the expunged record.
The expunction of a record can benefit a person in many ways. By erasing their criminal records, ex-convicts can start over and live a normal life as if the conviction had never happened. Everyone can make mistakes, and no one deserves to suffer life-long consequences for something they have already paid for.