There are basically three categories of cases which may be expunged in Tennessee. First, cases in which charges were brought but which did not result in a conviction can be expunged. Second, cases that were resolved pursuant to a diversion agreement or sentence may be eligible to be expunged. And third, recent changes in the law allow for specific old misdemeanor and lower level felony convictions to be erased.
According to ScotBlog, Sometimes a person is charged with a crime but is never convicted of that offense. Examples of this include when someone is acquitted, or found not guilty, after a trial; when the court dismisses charges after some type this pretrial motion or preliminary hearing, or sometimes upon the request of the prosecutor. Another example is a nolle prosequi. This is sometimes referred to as a “nolle” or a “nol pros.” These are cases in which the State advised the Court that it is no longer pursuing a criminal charge.
There is another similar disposition called retirement. Retirement means that the State has agreed not to pursue a charge for a certain period of time, sometimes associated with certain conditions, and at the end of that period, the case may be dismissed if there are no further problems and any conditions are met.
The second category is diversion. Tennessee recognizes two types of first offender type programs called pretrial diversion and judicial diversion. Pretrial diversion is a formal program in which the state may agree to suspend prosecution of charges against someone for a certain period of time at the end of which the charge may be dismissed. Judicial diversion is similar in that charges may be dismissed after a certain period of time.