In Tennessee, the public has limited access to juvenile records. However, you may still benefit from having your record officially expunged, following the guidelines below. Expunged juvenile records are completely destroyed and treated as though they never existed. You are not required to disclose information about your expunged juvenile record to anyone -- for instance, to colleges or potential employers.
Does Your Juvenile Court Record Qualify for Expungement?
You can apply to have your juvenile court record destroyed if you meet the following requirements:
- you are at least eighteen years old
- at least one year has passed since your most recent juvenile adjudication
- you have not been convicted of a criminal offense following your transfer from juvenile court
- you have never been convicted of a sexual offense, whether as a juvenile or an adult, and
- the court finds that you have demonstrated good behavior in the year preceding your expungement request and that expunging your record is in the best interests of both you and the community.
(Tennessee Statutes § 37-1-153.)
Do Your Juvenile Fingerprint and Photograph Records Qualify for Expungement
If you were fingerprinted or photographed in the course of the investigation of your juvenile case, those records are confidential and kept separate from adult files. Many juvenile fingerprint and photograph records are automatically destroyed after a certain amount of time has passed. Here is a summary of how your juvenile fingerprint and photograph records will be handled:
If you were charged with a misdemeanor but not adjudicated delinquent. Your fingerprint and photograph records will be automatically destroyed if:
- you were charged with a misdemeanor but not adjudicated delinquent, or
- no petition of delinquency was filed or your case was transferred to the juvenile court.
If you were charged with a felony but not adjudicated delinquent. If you were charged with a felony but not adjudicated delinquent, your fingerprint and photograph records can be destroyed by court order when you turn eighteen. (The court may issue this direction as part of the record expungement process described above.)
You were adjudicated delinquent for a misdemeanor. If you were adjudicated delinquent for a misdemeanor, your fingerprint and photograph records will be destroyed when you turn eighteen, unless you were fourteen or older when you committed the offense, in which case the records will be maintained permanently.
You were adjudicated delinquent for a felony. If you were adjudicated delinquent for a felony, your fingerprint and photograph records will be maintained permanently.
(Tennessee Statutes § 37-1-155.)
How to File
To expunge your juvenile court record, you must file a petition with the juvenile court that handled your case. Contact the court clerk’s office for more information.
Getting Legal Help
Clearing a juvenile record can be complicated. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for expungement in Tennessee -- or for help completing the necessary paperwork or presenting your case to the court -- you should contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.