The process of sealing or destroying criminal records is known as expungement. This is a civil action, although it deals with underlying criminal records and involves a plaintiff asking a court to declare the records expunged. Under expungement, events are treated in a manner to suggest that they did not take place.
Expungement applies to arrests and not convictions in Tennessee. If you have been convicted of a crime, the record cannot be expunged. Tennessee allows removal of criminal charges only under limited circumstances.
Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria. You can gain eligibility if you are exonerated by the governor from blame in the crime for which you were charged. You will be eligible if your lawyer convinces the court to dismiss the proceedings of the case against you. You also will be eligible if the grand jury fails to indict you for the crime you have been accused of or by getting a not guilty verdict.
Petition the court to give an order of expungement of felony records. In some circumstances, a fee of $50, as of 2010, is charged specifically to individuals who have successfully completed a diversion program. A diversion program is a program run by a police department, court or a district attorney's office that helps offenders to avoid criminal charges. The program includes restitution to the person you have offended or participation in rehabilitation designed to prevent a repeat of the offense. This fee does not apply to cases where there has been an acquittal, failure to prosecute or where the law does not require a copy of the expungement order to be sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Hire an attorney to help you fill the required papers to petition for an expungement in accordance with the instructions provided by the court. The court will then send to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation a copy of this dismissal and expungement order, which is inserted into the criminal offender and pre-trial diversion database. This dismissal order contains information relating to the individual whose criminal records will be expunged. Such information can be the name, date of birth, Social Security number, the date of dismissal of offense and the date the expungement order was entered into the Tennessee database.