Tennessee Court Records
Are Criminal Records Public In Tennessee?
Criminal records are considered public in the state of Tennessee. Public access to these records is granted under Tennessee Code Title 10 Chapter 7. Tennessee criminal records are compiled and maintained at a state level by the Tennessee Bureau of investigation. This agency is responsible for issuing copies of these records to requesting members of the public.
What Is Included In A Criminal Record In Tennessee?
Tennessee criminal records typically contain the following information:
- The names and aliases of the subject
- The subject’s date of birth and age
- The subject’s race and physical description, including height, weight, eye and hair color
- Distinctive marks, tattoos, and scars (if any)
- The subject’s photograph and fingerprints
- Charges, convictions, and sentences against the subject
- The subject’s current correctional status
How To Look Up My Criminal Records In Tennessee?
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is responsible for collating and maintaining criminal history information in the state of Tennessee. Citizens who wish to obtain criminal records from this agency may do so by requesting statewide background checks. These requests can be made online through the bureau’s Tennessee Open Records Information Services website or by completing and submitting a Tennessee Criminal History Request Form via mail-in to:
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation- TORIS Unit
901 R. S. Gass Boulevard
Nashville, TN 37216
Background checks cost a non-refundable fee of $29 per check. These checks are name-based, and requestors are advised to provide accurate information when filling the request forms to ensure accurate results. Queries can be directed to (615) 744–4057.
How Can I Get My Criminal Records For Free In Tennessee?
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation does not provide members of the public with free access to criminal records.
How To Search Criminal Records Online In Tennessee?
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation provides online access to criminal history information through its Tennessee Open Records Information Services website.
Parties that wish to utilize this website will be required to complete a Requestor Information Form by entering their full names, address, zip/postal code, phone number, and email address. Requests cannot be made until this form is completed and submitted, and a user account has been created. Once this is done, the requestor can then provide details on the subject of the background check. These details should include:
- The subject’s first and last name
- The subject’s date of birth
- The subject’s race and sex
- The subject’s city, state and zip code
The subject’s middle name, street address, aliases, and social security number can also be provided; however, these details are optional. Criminal background checks cost $29 per check.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How To Get Criminal Records Expunged In Tennessee?
Expungements refer to the removal of convictions from an individual’s criminal record or the total erasure/destruction of that record. Criminal records may be expunged in the state of Tennessee in compliance with Tennessee Code Title 40 Chapter 32. According to this law, individuals may be eligible for free record expungements under the following conditions:
- The charges against the individual were dismissed.
- The individual was arrested and released without being charged.
- A “no true bill” was returned by a grand jury.
- A verdict of not guilty was issued at the individual’s trial.
- The case against the individual resulted in a nolle prosequi (the prosecutor voluntarily ended the case either before trial or before a verdict could be issued).
Individuals may also be eligible for criminal record expungements if they meet the following criteria:
- The individual has never been convicted for any other criminal offense in the state of Tennessee or other states. This also includes federal offenses.
- The individual was sentenced to a prison term of four years or less for an unlawful drug paraphernalia uses and activities offense committed on or after November 1, 1989. At least ten years have elapsed since the completion of the individual’s sentence.
- A period of at least five years has elapsed since the completion of the sentence imposed for the individual’s offense.
- The individual has fulfilled all the requirements of the sentence imposed for the conviction. This includes -
- Paying all court costs, fines, restitution, and other court-imposed assessments.
- Completing any term of imprisonment or probation
- Meeting all the conditions required for a supervised or unsupervised release
- Remaining free from abuse and dependency on alcohol and controlled or prohibited substances for a period of not less than one year. (This is necessary only in cases where this is a required condition of the individual’s sentence)
- The individual was convicted for a non-violent crime after January 1, 1980, received a pardon from the parole board, and received a pardon from the Governor.
- The individual was sentenced to a prison term of three years or less for a Class E felony offense committed on or after November 1, 1989. These offenses include, but are not limited to:
- Fraudulent use of a credit or debit card
- Destruction or concealment of a will or destruction of valuable papers
- Home improvement fraud
- Criminal simulation
- Fraud in insolvency
- Trade secrets theft
- A utility service interruption or property damage
- Impersonation of a licensed professional
- Manufacture, delivery, sale, or possession of a Schedule V drug (where the fine was not greater than $5,000)
- Manufacture, delivery, sale and possession of Schedule VII drug (where the fine not greater than $1,000)
- The individual was convicted for a misdemeanor committed on or after November 1, 1989, that is not listed in Tennessee Code § 40–32–101 Subsection G1B. Some of the excluded misdemeanor offenses are -
- Assault, domestic assault and aggravated assault of a public employee
- Violation of a protective or restraining order
- Soliciting a minor to engage in a Class E sexual offense
- Harboring or hiding a runaway child
- Possession of a firearm after being convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
- Misuse of official information by a public servant
- Driving under the influence of an intoxicant
In addition to this, individuals convicted for felony or misdemeanor offenses committed before November 1, 1989, may be eligible for a criminal record expungement under the following conditions:
- The individual was sentenced to a determinate sentence of a maximum of three years.
- The individual served a maximum of 3 years for an indeterminate sentence.
- The individual does not have a previous conviction expunged due to the successful completion of a diversion program as directed by Tennessee Codes §§40–15–102—40–15–106 or §40–35–313.
- The individual was not convicted for an offense that involves the use, attempted, or threatened use of physical violence against another individual.
- The individual was not convicted of an offense involving the use of physical force against another individual in the course of committing the offense.
- The individual was not convicted for an offense that involved the use and possession of a deadly weapon.
- The individual was not convicted for an offense that resulted in the death, serious bodily injury, or bodily injury of another individual.
- The individual was not convicted of an offense that had a minor as the victim.
- The individual was not convicted of an offense that requires them to register as a sexual offender or a violent sexual offender under Tennessee Code Title 40 Chapter 39, Part 2.
- The individual was not convicted of any sex offense involving a minor.
- The individual was not convicted of an offense that involved the use of alcohol or drugs and a motor vehicle.
- The individual was not convicted of an offense that involved the sale and distribution of a Schedule I, II, III, or IV controlled substance.
- The individual was not convicted of an offense causing the victims a loss of $50,000 or more
The process for requesting a criminal record expungement in the state of Tennessee varies by county. Hence, parties are advised to get legal advice before requesting for expungements. However, the general procedure for individuals that want to expunge records that involve a conviction is as follows:
- Contact the office of the district attorney in the county the conviction occurred. Tennessee District Attorney’s information can be gotten from this directory.
- Obtain, complete, and submit an Expungement Checklist to the District Attorney’s office. Parties will be required to provide copies of documents listed in the checklist, including copies of records they want to expunge. These documents can be obtained from the office of the Criminal Court Clerk or General Sessions Court Clerk, where the conviction took place.
- Once these steps have been successfully completed, the District Attorney will provide the requestor with a petition that should be submitted at the court clerk’s office where the conviction took place. It should be noted that if the District Attorney states that the requestor does not qualify for an expungement, the requestor still retains the right to file the petition with the court. However, the District Attorney also has the right to object to the petition.
- Pay a non-refundable filing fee of $350. Additional fees may also be charged, depending on the court. Parties that are unable to pay the filing fees at once may establish a payment plan with the court clerk. It should be noted that the expungement will not occur until all fees have been completely paid.
The District Attorney is allowed to submit recommendations on the case to the court within 60 days. The District Attorney is also required to provide a copy of these recommendations to the requestor. The requestor may also submit evidence in support of the case during this period.
If the request is granted, the petitioner may request a copy of the expungement order. This copy will act as sufficient proof that the individual is no longer under any disqualification, disability, or any other adverse consequence that may have resulted from the conviction that has been expunged. However, If a request for a criminal record expungement is denied, the petitioner is not allowed to file another request for at least two years.
Parties that qualify for expungements of criminal records that do not involve a conviction may do so through the following steps (Note that the procedure may vary depending on the court where the criminal record is domiciled):
- Obtain information, such as the case/docket number, concerning the case. This information can be obtained from the office of the court clerk at the appropriate court.
- File a request with the appropriate court. Petitions forms can be gotten from the office of the court clerk. Parties that wish to expunge records from multiple charges may need to verify from the court clerk whether separate petitions forms are needed for each fee. Filing the petition for expungement of a criminal record is typically free of charge. However, petitioners with records that say “dismissed with costs” will have to pay all outstanding court costs or get a waiver from the court before their records can be expunged. Also, petitioners with records that say “retired” will have to request the retired case to be changed to a dismissed case before the criminal record can be expunged. (Cases are usually marked “retired” when they have been put on hold for a very long time).
Once the petition has been appropriately filed with the court clerk, the requestor may not appear in court anymore concerning the matter. Requestors that wish to obtain a copy of the expungement order will be required to bring a self-addressed stamped envelope for each charge that is to be expunged. The Court Clerk will use these envelopes to send the requestor all the necessary paperwork once the expungement process is complete. Parties are advised to ask the Court Clerk for a certified copy of the charging document and certified copies of the expungement order. This paperwork will also be sent to the presiding judge and forwarded to all the appropriate agencies for expungement.
How To Get Criminal Records Sealed In Tennessee?
Tennessee does not seal criminal records. However, eligible parties may request an expungement of their criminal records, per Tennessee Code Title 40 Chapter 32.
Who Can See My Expunged/sealed Criminal Record In Tennessee?
Criminal record expungements granted in the state of Tennessee apply only to public records. As such, certain confidential information will still be accessible to authorized agencies. Some of this information includes:
- Arrest histories, investigative reports and intelligence information of law enforcement agencies
- District Attorney files that are maintained as confidential records for law enforcement purposes
- Appellate court records and opinions