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Legal second chances not impossible, but not easy

Most of the major religions have something of an escape clause in the arrangements they have with their followers. For example, in the Catholic tradition, if you commit an infraction of the Ten Commandments, there is a means to have such sins absolved through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The idea behind this out for wrongdoing is an understanding that just because you have done something once doesn't mean you will do it again. There's room in the church for sinners to say I'm sorry, if they're sincere, and to have their misdeeds absolved.

Tennessee's state code has something like this. It's not as far-reaching as the pardon you might receive in a visit to a confessional. Still, it's something to be aware of if you find yourself facing charges of driving under the influence of intoxicants because if you are convicted, there's no way to have the blot expunged from your record. And the shadow of conviction is something that could follow you for years.

What the law does allow under Tennessee code §40-32-101(g) is the expunction of some records of convictions for a limited number of crimes. A DUI conviction, however, is not one of them. To qualify for possible expunction the case must meet certain criteria, including:

  • You can have no other convictions existing on your record.
  • You must have completed any and all terms of your sentence for the offense for which you were convicted and you must wait an additional five years after that to apply.
  • The sentence received for a qualifying Class E felony conviction can't have been more than three years in length.

You can see from just this brief assessment that expunging records can be challenging. To understand what your rights and possible options are, you need to speak with experienced legal counsel and it's always best to do that sooner rather than later.

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