New TN Expungement Law Is Narrow and Confusing

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“What began as a well-intentioned bill has morphed into a mess that has frustrated those who need help and those trying to help them.”

                                               – Wendi C. Thomas, Commercial Appeal columnist

Tenneesee’s new expungement law went into effect July 1. It was introduced to help some ex-offenders clear their records so they could find employment, restore their right to vote and put a potentially embarrassing part of their past behind them. 

But despite dozens of inquiries across the state, very few stories of potential relief have emerged because of the law’s narrow focus and confusing application process. 

Click here to read more in The Commercial Appeal...

UPDATED: New Expungement Law on the Way!

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UPDATED 5/22/12:

Governor Haslam signed SB3520 into law yesterday! It becomes effective July 1st. Check back for more details on how to qualify and how to seek an expungement.

ORIGINAL POST:

The 107th Tennessee General Assembly passed quite a bit of legislation in its last few days. One bill that quietly reached the Governor’s desk last week is SB3520. If it becomes law on July 1, 2012, as expected, it will provide much needed expungement relief for a select few Tennesseans living with a criminal conviction. Here are the details we have so far:

  • Applies to certain non-violent E felonies and misdemeanors.
  • Applicant must have paid all costs, fees, fines and restitution associated with the conviction.
  • Applicant must not have any additional convictions other than the one for which expungement is sought.
  • Five (5) years must have passed since the completion of the sentence imposed for the offense.
  • Applicant must petition the court for expungement and pay a $350 fee upon filing.

The bill also mandates the creation of a simple form that will allow people to complete this process without an attorney.

Check back with JustCity for more information. This is an exciting opportunity for Tennesseans who have long since paid their debt but still live with the stigma of a criminal conviction. And for the General Assembly, it is a small step in the right direction.