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New Law Allows for Tennessee Convictions to Be Expunged

A Tennessee law going into effect on July 1st will give many people the opportunity for a fresh start. The law gives those convicted of certain low level crimes the opportunity to get their criminal records expunged, and allows for the removal of those convictions from the public record.

Senator Reginald Tate and Representative Karen Camper sponsored the bill. Specifically, the new law permits a person who has been convicted of a single nonviolent misdemeanor or felony the opportunity to have their record expunged after a period of five years.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can provide further information about which convictions are eligible for expungement.

The new law is important because individuals with criminal records may have difficulty obtaining employment. A political news commentator from WREG explained, "There are a lot of people...who have minor nonviolent criminal convictions and because that is on their record they cannot get jobs." Those with prior convictions may also have difficulty obtaining rental housing or getting approved to possess a firearm.

Individuals seeking to have their records expunged must have fully paid all fines and fulfilled all other obligations. They also must have been law-abiding since their previous conviction, and not have any other convictions other than the ones they are attempting to expunge. Additionally, they are also required to pay a $350 fee to clear their record. Tennessee estimates this will generate about $7 million per year in revenue which will be divided between the public defenders expungement fund and the state.

Source: WREG, "New Law to Allow Some Ex-Cons to Pay and Erase Criminal Records, Adam Hammond," May 24, 2012.

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