Link to T.C.A. §40-32-101
Expungement is a court-ordered process where the legal record of some criminal cases can be erased in the eyes of the law. In Tennessee, only certain criminal records can be expunged. Some cases can be expunged without any fees. If you are unsure about your situation, it’s best to talk to a lawyer for help.
You may be eligible for free expungement in Tennessee if:
If you qualify for an expungement for any of the reasons listed above, you will need to file for expungement in the court in which the matter originated. This may be general sessions court or a trial court. Not all courts operate exactly the same, but the following steps outline the process generally.
You need the information (docket #, etc.) regarding the case. This information is required to get an expungement. You may want to obtain a copy of your record from the court clerk if you do not have a copy.
For charges that are marked as “dismissed” or “nollied”, follow the steps below. If the charges were dismissed “with costs” or they were “retired”, there are additional steps you have to take to get your record expunged (see below).
If your record says a charge was “dismissed with costs”, that means that there are court costs that you owe. You have to take care of the court costs before you can have your record expunged. You may be able to get them waived.
If your record says a charge was “retired”, that means that the case was put on hold for a very long time. You have to request that the retired case be changed to a dismissed case before you can get that charge expunged.
Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference
TBI FAQ on Expungements
Training Materials - Nashville, April 2015
Expungement Clinic Held in Memphis
Nehemiah Missionary Baptist Church TFJA Expungement Clinic
Just City Expungement Fee Fund Awaits Grants
Chattanooga launches website to guide convicts through expungement, voting
Davidson County General Sessions Expungement Clinic Brings Court to the Community
Knox County Criminal Court Clerk: Computer errors kept some cases from being expunged (WATE 5/4/2016)
Expungement Fees Get Legislative Scrutiny (Memphis Daily News 3/24/2016)
Chattanooga police backlogged on 23,000 expunged records (Times Free Press 3/19/2016)
Cafeteria courtrooms help parents with court fees, old cases (Tennessean 2/11/2016)