Legal Question in Criminal Law in Tennessee

My son committed a felony when he was 17. After paying his fines and completing his probation, he went back to the court and got his record fully expunged. Now he wants to vote for the first time (state of Tennessee). In filling out the voter registration form, does he have to answer yes to the question, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime which is a felony in this state, by a court in this state, a court in another state, or a federal court?"?

Asked on 8/26/20, 4:42 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Did he successfully complete diversion?

If it was a felony offense, and within the past few years (when diversion for felonies was only available under the provisions of T.C.A. ยง40-35-313),

then the answer is contained within the statute itself:

"The effect of the order (of dismissal and expungement) is to restore the person, in the contemplation of the law, to the status the person occupied before the arrest or indictment or information. No person as to whom the order has been entered shall be held thereafter under any provision of any law to be guilty of perjury or otherwise giving a false statement by reason of the person's failures to recite or acknowledge the arrest, or indictment or information, or trial in response to any inquiry made of the person for any purpose, ...".

So double check the exact terms under which the case was dismissed and expunged, but I believe you will find that your son is NOT a convicted felon and has retained his right to vote.

Tell him to use that right wisely.

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Answered on 8/26/20, 7:42 pm

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