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Home » Turner Law Offices Blog » What You Need to Know About Mass Expungement & Criminal Records

What You Need to Know About Mass Expungement & Criminal Records

explungement-blogConsequences are for the guilty, right? Like if you’re accused of committing a crime and it’s proven that you aren’t guilty, then you should just be able to say, “Told you guys!” and mosey on back into your regular life, consequence-free? The state of Tennessee’s criminal justice system would nod its head in affirmation to those questions, if it had a head to nod. But it would also have to admit that all this depends on your definition of ‘consequence.’

It’s pretty easy to mix up the meanings behind ‘punishments’ and ‘consequences.’ A consequence is just a result of something that happened: I washed my pants without emptying the pockets and now my wallet is soiled.

Punishments are consequences, sure, but only those specifically penalizing criminal offenses: I burned down the K-Mart and now I’m going to prison.

It’s a square vs. rectangle kind of relationship — all punishments are consequences, but not all consequences are punishments.

Rewind back to the question of whether there are consequences for people who are arrested and proven not guilty. Innocent persons aren’t punished, obviously! If the court doesn’t find you guilty, you can rest assured you won’t be facing any penalties for crimes you didn’t commit!

But, well, we were talking about consequences. If you want to leave the courtroom free of punishments AND consequences, there’s a few more steps you need to take if you want your criminal record wiped clean.

Because it doesn’t matter whether you’re guilty or not: if you’re arrested at all, that arrest is going to appear on your criminal record until you file the proper paperwork to have it expunged.

“Record of Suspicion”

We’re basically straight up told that the legal system is too complicated to understand. Lawyers are only necessary so that people who didn’t graduated from law school can navigate this labyrinth without screwing themselves over. And when most people hear the words, “Not guilty,” or, “Case dismissed,” at the end of their trials, more often than not they head home believing themselves to be off the hook.

But expungements don’t work that way. You have to go through the process of filing for this even after your case is dismissed or turned over. If you miss this little tidbit amidst all the mumbo-jumbo being thrown around by legal officials, then you’re probably in for an unpleasant surprise later on when applying for school, or a job, or settling your living arrangements. Because until you do all that paperwork, the fact that you were arrested will stay on your criminal record forever.

Does this mean your criminal record will say you committed a crime you didn’t? Of course not. But as Nashville attorney Daniel Horwitz puts it,

“Anybody can be arrested for suspicion of a crime, and though they were doing nothing illegal, the system maintains a record of suspicion.”

Such a record, although not explicitly incriminating, is almost guaranteed to cause problems at some point. According to Horwitz, now is the time to start smoothing out this wrinkle in our criminal justice system.

Mass Expungement: A Step In The Right Direction

Daniel Horwitz joined the conversation on mass expungement in 2014 after a discussion with Davidson County Criminal Court clerk Howard Gentry about the 128,000 Nashville citizens who retain blemishes on their criminal records despite never being prosecuted. That’s a lot of guiltless people facing obstacles they don’t deserve — a bonafide socioeconomic issue.

Horwitz joined up with fellow Vanderbilt alumni James Danly to approach Judge Rachel Bell of the General Sessions Court with the request for a mass expungement, cleaning the criminal records of 128,000 Nashvillians facing the lingering repercussions of obsolete cases. If Judge Bell approves, that means 350,000 cases currently clogging up the criminal court system will be cleared, allowing room for problems that need to be addressed now.

On September 3, Judge Bell gathered several local authorities gathered to address Horwitz’s proposal for mass expungement. She is quoted as stating, “I am excited about this proposal because of the many ways that expungements benefit the public.”

Nashville Criminal Defense Attorneys

Turner Law Offices, P.C. has years of experience working with criminal cases across a wide variety of circumstances. If you have any questions about your legal situation, call today or go online to set up your Free Initial Consultation, and meet with a skilled attorney who can get you on track towards a satisfactory resolution.

(615) 259-2660

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