How Can I Get A DUI Charge Expunged In Tennessee?

In Tennessee, it is possible for those who have been charged with certain criminal offenses to have the record of those crimes erased, or expunged. While certain records, like files at the prosecutor’s office and some police records won’t be destroyed, all public records of the charge will be destroyed. Not all offenses can be expunged, so if you want to learn more about the expungement process, or need help determining whether your own criminal record could be expunged, it is important to reach out to an experienced Knoxville DUI defense lawyer who can evaluate your case and advise you accordingly. 

What Is Expungement?

Expungement, or expunction, is a court-ordered process in which a person applies to have his or her criminal record removed from all official sources. This means that the record won’t shop up on any background checks conducted by employers, landlords, and financial institutions. However, only certain criminal records qualify for expungement. DUI convictions, for instance, can never be expunged, no matter how long ago they were committed. Fortunately, it is often possible to have a DUI charge dismissed if a person was never officially convicted of the offense. 

Which DUI Cases Are Eligible For Expungement?

Under Tennessee law, DUI convictions cannot ever be expunged, but will permanently remain a part of the public record. It is possible, however, to expunge some types of DUI cases, including those in which:

  • The charges were dismissed;
  • The defendant was acquitted by a judge or jury;
  • The state decided not to prosecute the case;
  • A grand jury returned a “no true bill”; or
  • A person was arrested for, but not charged with a DUI.

It is also possible for those who were initially charged with a DUI, but convicted of a lesser offense, like reckless driving, to expunge their records, although they’ll usually have to wait five years to do so. Most people aren’t aware of these intricacies of the law and may find themselves pleading guilty to a DUI offense, without fully understanding the repercussions of their actions. Fortunately, experienced Knoxville DUI defense lawyers are well-versed in how to navigate these legal complexities, so if you were arrested for or charged with a DUI, you should think about obtaining legal representation, who can give you the best possible chance of having your own charges reduced or dismissed.

How Do I Request Expungement?

Just because a person’s circumstances qualify him or her for record expungement, doesn’t mean that it will automatically happen. Instead, those who qualify for expungement will need to take a number of steps to set the process in motion by filing the proper paperwork with the clerk of the court where the charges originated. Petitioners will need access to the docket numbers from their cases and may also be required to submit other information as directed by the court. If approved by a judge, the court will order the expungement.

The process of obtaining an expungement can differ in a few different situations. If, for instance, a charge was dismissed with costs, then a person can still request an expungement, but will have to pay certain court fees before it will be granted. Similarly, if a charge was “retired,” meaning that it has been inactive for many years, then a petitioner will need to first ask a court to change its status to “dismissed” before the expungement process can be initiated.

The Benefits Of Expungement

Once an expungement has been granted, a court will order all state agencies, including the arresting agency, county jail, and Department of Correction, to destroy records related to the offense. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) will also remove the record from the person’s fingerprint card and send the order to any federal agencies that may have the offense on record. 

Expunging a criminal record allows someone to hit a “reset button” on many aspects of their life, as those with criminal records often face difficulty when applying for jobs or housing. By seeking expungement, a person can keep potential employers and landlords from seeing the arrest or charge when conducting a background check. Expungement can also make it much easier to obtain certain security clearances, apply for a professional license, and even travel outside the country. 

An Experienced Knoxville DUI Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one were recently arrested for, or charged with, driving under the influence, you could be facing severe consequences if convicted. To learn more about your legal options going forward, please call (865) 805-5703 and set up a meeting with the dedicated DUI defense lawyers at Barnes Law today.