Category Archives: Expungement

New Law Reduces Tennessee’s Expungement Fee for Convictions from $450 to $280

By Daniel Horwitz:

A new law that reduces the total cost of expunging a conviction from $450 to $280 was officially signed by Governor Haslam on May 25, 2017.  The new law, sponsored by Representative Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) and Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville), takes effect immediately.

Until yesterday, Tennessee had the third-highest expungement fee in the entire country.  Regrettably, even if a person is indigent, Tennessee also does not allow expungement fees to be waived—meaning that expungement still remains out of reach for many of the people who need it most.  However, reducing the total cost of expunging a conviction by nearly 40% will significantly improve access to expungement for those who are eligible to have their charges cleared.  As a result, this reform should be universally applauded.

In Tennessee, people whose charges were dismissed are eligible to have their records expunged for free.  However, only some convictions are eligible to be expunged.  If a person was convicted of a felony, then the person may be eligible for expungement if their charge appears on this list.  If a person was convicted of a misdemeanor, then the person may be eligible for expungement if their charge does not appear on this list.  Based on a new law enacted on May 5, 2017, some people with exactly two eligible convictions can now get both of their charges expunged as well.  Additional details on that new “double expungement” law are available here.

If you think you may be eligible to have your record expunged and want to hire an attorney to file your paperwork for you, please click here.

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Slate: An Attorney and a DA Are Seeking Justice for Tennesseans Convicted of “Homosexual Acts”

By Mark Joseph Stern, for Slate:

Nashville attorney Daniel Horwitz was helping a man expunge his criminal record when he discovered something unexpected: a conviction for violating Tennessee’s Homosexual Practices Act—from 1995.

“Subject was engaged in sexual intercourse with another male subject,” the misdemeanor citation reads. The charge could have landed the defendant—whom I’ll call John Doe—in jail. Instead, Doe took a plea deal and avoided jail time by admitting that he had, indeed, had sex with a man, a practice forbidden by the law. Horwitz told me he was “aghast” to see the charge.

Continue reading Slate: An Attorney and a DA Are Seeking Justice for Tennesseans Convicted of “Homosexual Acts”

Officials, Organizations, Community Activists Proclaim Support for Mass Expungement Effort

Following last week’s historic filing of a proposed order – joined by District Attorney General Glenn Funk and Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry – to expunge 350,000 dismissed case records involving 128,000 separate individuals, the following officials, organizations and community activists across Nashville have proclaimed their support for the effort.  Many more are expected to announce their support in the coming days and weeks.

Mayor-Elect Megan Barry:  “No individual should be unfairly penalized simply because they didn’t have the time, resources, or understanding of the law to have a charge expunged from their record.  I look forward to working with our criminal justice community to ensure this mass expungement program is implemented as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

State Senator Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville):  “Efforts like this help Tennesseans who want to buy a house, get a job or just get on with their lives. We all benefit when impediments to the American Dream are removed.”

State Representative Harold M. Love Jr. (D-Nashville):  “Our society gains a direct benefit when people are given a chance to improve their lives.  This is one such opportunity and I am glad to lend my support to the effort.”

Attorney David Raybin, Hollins, Raybin & Weissman, P.C.:  “Every week citizens call me to help with expungements because of the horrible effect some ancient arrest has on their life.  This Class action will help thousands of citizens.  I applaud the joint efforts of the court, the clerk’s office, the prosecutor and the private bar in making this a reality.”

 State Representative John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville):  “Justice demands this momentous undertaking that will remove an undue stain on individuals’ records and help ensure their equal opportunity for employment.”

The Board of Directors of the Martha O’Bryan Center:  “The Martha O’Bryan Center joins in support of the recent class action suit which seeks to expedite without fees or charges the expungement process in Davidson County.  As an anti-poverty social services and education non-profit, we have seen many times when an arrest or charge, with no conviction, has prevented or compromised a citizen’s ability to gain employment.  This is a policy change that will positivity impact employability, housing availability, and improved HR practices in our city.”

A Voice for the Reduction of Poverty:  “We support the class action suit filed to automate and simplify  the expungement process in Davidson County.  We applaud and join in approval with Davidson County District Attorney, Glenn Funk and the Clerk of Courts, Howard Gentry, of this effort to make our county and court system more fair and equitable to all people regardless of economic status.”

District Attorney Glenn Funk:  “Consequences for criminal activity should be reserved for those who are guilty.”

Metro Council Member At-Large Erica Gilmore:  “​This will help put many Nashvillians back to work, add greatly to our economy and restore dignity to many who were hanging in the balance.  ​I wholeheartedly support this effort.”

Metro Council Member Fabian Bedne:  “When a system has such a huge number of people caught in the backlog, it’s time to re-examine the system.  People who have not yet had their records expunged can’t fully contribute to society.  Additionally, at a time when Nashville is enjoying unprecedented growth, we need to do what we can to maintain high levels of employment in order to lower costs and tame inflation.  This is the right thing to do from both a human and a business perspective.”

Metro Council Member Freddie O’Connell:  “This is a perfect example of a situation where what seems like a simple bureaucratic measure can have a lasting negative impact on the life of someone who has had an encounter with the justice system.  The impact of this simple effort should offer some additional procedural justice to a number of Nashvillians, and I’m glad to see it being supported by the administrators of our justice system.”

Jonathan Adair, Community & Civic Engagement Chair, Urban League Young Professionals of Middle Tennessee:  “Not only are so many unaware of expungement of dismissed criminal charges as a fundamental right, the inadvertent cost and time of the expungement process is an injustice to citizens everywhere.  For years, dismissed criminal charges and failed convictions have prevented individual progress while the criminal justice system blatantly neglects to acknowledge such a right.”

Judge Carol Soloman:  “Access to Justice is denied to an entire group of people when the process of getting a DISMISSED criminal charge removed from their record is so complicated and expensive that it’s out of their reach.”

Bettie Kirkland, Executive Director, Project Return:  “We at Project Return applaud the class action approach to expungements.  Every day, people are walking out of prison and returning to our community, and their successful reentry is important to all of us.  They face many challenges, as they strive, against the odds, to gain employment and housing.  Even though they’ve done their time and paid their debt to society, the records of their criminal history make this quest for a job and a place to live extremely difficult.  To chip away at these challenges by bringing Tennessee’s expungement law to bear is a benefit to them, and to all of us.  Every properly expungeable charge that can be taken off of a person’s record, the better off that person is as he or she strives to begin again.”

John Little III, Managing Partner, Strategy Redefined:  “This will truly help our justice system define that you are innocent until proven guilty.  This will help thousands of Nashvillians not have to face persecution in our job market, after wrongful prosecution.”

 Ashford Hughes, Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH): “The opportunity to achieve a second chance in our country is a fundamental value we all hold dear. This second chance will give these individuals an equal opportunity to further partake in the economic, social and family growth that we see happening throughout Nashville today.”

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