How Can I Avoid a Criminal Record?

When we meet with new clients facing criminal charges, whether it is Domestic Assault, Theft, Assault, or some other criminal charge, one of the most common questions we are asked is how do I protect my criminal record?

In Rutherford County criminal courts, charges are not often dismissed immediately. Instead, there are often two primary ways that our clients can protect their permanent criminal record: through use of a retirement or a diversion.

Retirement
District Attorneys have the discretion as prosecutors to determine when charges should result in a conviction. At times, the District Attorney decides to offer a retirement instead of a conviction.

When a charge is retired, the case gets continued for a set period of time, usually sixty days, ninety days, six months, or one year, during which time you will be asked to complete certain conditions. During this time, the Court will hold on to the criminal warrant without any finding of guilt. The Criminal Court Judge will set a review date for you to come back into the Court to review whether you have completed any required conditions and to confirm that you have not picked up any new criminal charges.

If you have successfully completed the retirement, the court will dismiss the criminal charges and have them expunged from your permanent record. As we said above, this is a great way to keep your criminal record clean!

Diversion
In Tennessee, every adult receives one diversion in their life. Under a diversion, you would actually admit guilt to the charged crime; however, the Court would not enter your guilt. Instead, the Court places you on probation for a set period of time and, if you complete your conditions, the charge may be erased from your record.

A diversion can be used for most non-violent criminal offenses (importantly excluding certain common charges like Driving Under the Influence and Reckless Endangerment by Motor Vehicle).  To qualify for a diversion, your attorney will need to submit an application to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to run a background check to determine if you have any disqualifying offenses.

If you have successfully completed the diversion, the court will dismiss the criminal charges and have them expunged from your permanent record. But be careful! If you do not complete your conditions, the Court can (and often will) enter a conviction against you without any further chance to fight the charges.

Conclusion
Both Diversion and Retirement can help you reach your end goal: a clean criminal record. Another way to help protect your record is to hire experienced, local, Murfreesboro attorneys. If you have any questions or would like to meet with either Scott or Chase, give the office a call at 615-890-1099.

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