Advocating for You in and Beyond the Courtroom Call for a Free Consultation
Hands of a man tearing a piece of paper with inscription criminal record

Can I Clear a Domestic Violence Charge From My Record?

Moreland Law Firm May 31, 2024

Navigating life post-arrest is never easy, and if you’ve been charged with domestic violence, the road can seem especially daunting.

One burning question that arises for many is: "Can I clear a domestic violence charge from my record?"

The short answer is yes, but the process can be complex and nuanced. Under certain circumstances, it is possible to clear your record. 

Understanding Domestic Violence Charges 

Domestic violence charges encompass a range of offenses that can involve physical harm, threats, or other forms of abuse within a domestic setting. These charges carry severe consequences not only legally but also socially and professionally. A conviction can impact your employment opportunities, housing options, and personal relationships. 

Expungement vs. Sealing Records 

Before we delve into the specifics of clearing your record, it’s crucial to understand the difference between expungement and sealing records: 

  • Expungement: This process effectively erases the record of your arrest or conviction. It’s as if the offense never happened, and you can legally state that you’ve never been convicted of the crime. 

  • Sealing records: When a record is sealed, it’s hidden from the general public but still exists within the legal system. Certain entities, like law enforcement agencies, may still have access to it. 

Understanding these distinctions is essential in determining the best course of action for mitigating the impact of a domestic violence charge on your future. 

Eligibility Criteria for Expungement (Specifically Domestic Violence Charges) 

Expunging a domestic violence charge is subject to stringent eligibility criteria. Here are some common factors that courts consider: 

  1. Type of charge: Not all domestic violence charges are eligible for expungement. Felonies, especially those involving severe harm or use of a weapon, are often more difficult to expunge than misdemeanors. 

  1. Completion of sentence: You must have completed all aspects of your sentence, including jail time, probation, and any court-ordered programs. 

  1. Waiting period: There’s usually a mandatory waiting period after completing your sentence before you can apply for expungement. This period varies by jurisdiction. 

  1. No subsequent offenses: Courts are more likely to grant expungement if you have maintained a clean record since your conviction. 

  1. Rehabilitation demonstration: Showing evidence of rehabilitation, such as completing anger management courses or community service, can bolster your case. 

Meeting these criteria is the first step towards potentially expunging a domestic violence charge and moving forward with your life. 

The Expungement Process 

The process of expunging a domestic violence charge involves several critical steps: 

  1. Consult an attorney. Given the seriousness of expungement laws, consulting with a knowledgeable lawyer is crucial. Jay Moreland, our seasoned Nashville criminal defense attorney, can guide you through this intricate process. 

  1. File a petition. Your attorney will help you file a petition for expungement with the appropriate court. This petition includes detailed information about your case and why you believe you deserve expungement. 

  1. Gather supporting documents. Collecting documents that support your petition is essential. These can include character references, proof of completed sentences, and evidence of rehabilitation efforts. 

  1. Attend a hearing. In many cases, you’ll need to attend a court hearing where a judge will review your petition and potentially ask you questions. Having an experienced attorney by your side can make a significant difference in this stage. 

  1. Await a decision. After the hearing, the judge will decide whether to grant or deny your expungement request. If granted, your record will be expunged, and you can move forward with a clean slate. 

Successfully going through the expungement process can provide you with a fresh start, allowing you to move forward, unburned by past mistakes. 

Factors Affecting Expungement Approval 

Several factors can influence the approval of your expungement petition: 

  • Severity of the crime: More severe crimes are less likely to be expunged. 

  • Time passed since conviction: The longer the time since your conviction, the better your chances. 

  • Behavior since conviction: Demonstrating that you have reformed and led a law-abiding life can positively impact your petition. 

Having the right legal support can make all the difference. At Moreland Law Firm, we have a deep understanding of Tennessee expungement laws.

Our trial lawyer, Jay Moreland, brings a wealth of experience and a deep-rooted passion for justice to every case. We pride ourselves on being approachable and dedicated, cultivating strong relationships with judges and prosecutors to advocate effectively for our clients. 

We know how stressful this process can be, and we are here to guide you every step of the way. Call or email us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward clearing your record. 

Alternatives to Expungement 

If expungement is not an option, there are alternative routes to consider: 

  • Record sealing: While not as effective as expungement, sealing your record can still provide significant privacy benefits. 

  • Certificates of rehabilitation: In some jurisdictions, you can obtain a certificate of rehabilitation, which serves as a formal recognition of your reformed character. 

  • Pardons: Applying for a pardon from the governor or president can also remove some of the stigma associated with your conviction, although this is often a more challenging route. 

Clearing a domestic violence charge from your record is not impossible, but it requires knowledgeable support. With the right guidance and representation, you can increase your chances of a successful outcome.  

Advocate for Your Future 

At Moreland Law Firm, we are committed to providing you with the support and expertise you need to move forward with confidence. If you or someone you know is struggling with a domestic violence charge, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Together, we can work towards a brighter future. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you clear your record and reclaim your life.