Are Drug Crimes Eligible for Expungement?

On Behalf of | Nov 21, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Although social attitudes about drug use have changed over the last decade, the laws are still largely the same as they were years ago. Tennessee continues to actively prosecute people for drug offenses of all types. Possession of prohibited drugs and abuse of prescription medication can lead to prosecution. So can involvement in the drug trade or any attempt at manufacturing elicit substances.

The majority of people accused of a drug offense plead guilty, and they are then compelled to live with the consequences of that decision. Not only does a conviction for a drug offense mean penalties that include fines, jail time or probation, but it also means a criminal record. Employers, schools and landlords will often require background checks before agreeing to do business with, rent to or enroll an individual.

A drug offense on someone’s record can negatively impact their opportunities. That record could potentially follow someone for the rest of their life. Can someone with a drug offense on their record expunge that offense?

Tennessee has strict rules for expungement

Expungement or record sealing allows an individual with a prior criminal infraction to eliminate the public record of their conviction. Successful expungement attempts can help people develop their careers or go back to school. However, only certain people can qualify for an expungement. Non-violent drug offenders can sometimes qualify for expungement. They will typically need to wait at least five years after their conviction to apply for expungement. Additionally, they will need to avoid other criminal infractions during that waiting period.

The offense typically needs to be a non-violent one, and someone must have fulfilled all the terms imposed by the courts after their conviction to qualify. Those accused of multiple offenses over the same incident can expunge more than one offense with a single filing. People can potentially expunge one felony and one misdemeanor or two misdemeanor offenses at the same time.

Tennessee expungement requires submitting paperwork to the courts and undergoing thorough judicial review. Not everyone who seeks an expungement will necessarily secure one, but many people can remove a minor drug offense from their criminal record after seeking legal guidance.


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