Beginning September 14, citizens seeking expungement of criminal records will be able to obtain assistance at the Knox County Expungement Court, a joint effort between District Attorney General Charme P. Allen and Criminal Court Clerk Mike Hammond. Allen and Hammond will have employees on hand to assist citizens in the preparation and filing of expungement applications. Expungement Court will take place every Monday and Thursday from 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. in the Fourth Sessions Courtroom on the Main Floor of the City County Building.
Tennessee law allows for the expungement—or destruction—of any record pertaining to dismissed criminal charges or, in certain cases, low-level criminal convictions. The expungement process, however, is complicated and can be confusing to those unfamiliar with the criminal justice system. Prior to Expungement Court, citizens had to complete the legal forms by themselves and then submit the forms to the District Attorney and the Clerk’s Office, who would review the forms separately before submitting them to a judge. Last year, the District Attorney and Clerk processed over 5,000 expungement applications.
Expungement Court is designed to streamline the efforts of the clerks, prosecutors, and judges so that those citizens who are entitled to expungement orders may obtain them quickly by making one visit to the courthouse. At Expungement Court, citizens will deal directly with representatives from the DA’s Office and Clerk’s Office who will assist them with the expungement process and ensure that each application is legally sufficient before it is submitted for a judge’s signature.
“We looked at the expungement process, and we realized that it was more complicated than it needed to be,” stated Allen. “Instead of our offices working separately on this process, Mike Hammond and I decided that we could serve the citizens better and more efficiently if we joined efforts and created a one-stop hub for expungement applications.”
Hammond added, “Government agencies should always look for ways to cut the red tape. I believe that we are taking a confusing and difficult process and turning it into something that will be very user-friendly for the citizens that we serve.” Hammond continued, “We are proud to work with General Allen and her staff to provide this new service.”
Both Allen and Hammond have information about the expungement process on their websites. Visit District Attorney Allen’s website at www.knoxcounty.org/dag and like the DA’s Office on Facebook. Visit the Clerk’s website at www.knoxcounty.org/criminalcourt and follow the Clerk’s Office on Twitter: @knoxcourtclerk.