Requests for expunged record jump in tight economy
Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 8:00 pm
NASHVILLE (AP) — An increasing number of people in Tennessee are requesting that their criminal records be cleared.
As jobs became scarce and employers got pickier, the number of requests for records to be expunged jumped 71 percent statewide since 2007, according to The Tennessean.
Criminal convictions cannot be expunged, but records can be cleared of charges for which a person was not convicted and cases in which a person was granted judicial diversion.
Jaime Bujanda is seeking to have his record expunged of a 2008 traffic case that was dropped.
“It’s hard enough just to get a job, but with things on your record,” he said, “they don’t even read through it and see what happened. They just judge you by what’s on paper.”
Bujanda has a full-time job now, but he worries that any future potential employer might pass his application over if it contains the charge.
Tommy Bradley, chief administrative officer for the Davidson County Criminal Court clerk’s office, said requests have become common over the past few years, and the common thread is that callers say they can’t get a job with an old charge on their record.
“We talk to them every day and all day long, and this has been the common thing the last few years: ‘I lost my job and I can’t get a new one,”’ said Bradley.
In most cases, there is no charge for having a record cleared. Cases that a judge or a prosecutor dismisses allow the charge to be wiped from the records. It takes an application being filled out and a prosecutor to sign off on it. Bradee said such requests are routinely granted.
There is a move to increase the cost for expunging criminal records in the case of judicial diversion, however. That fee is currently $50, but the Legislature is considering a move to increase it to $350 — partly to offset cuts to the budget of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
While some defense attorneys say the increase would be difficult for some clients to bear, TBI Director Mark Gwyn sees it differently. “I don’t see it as an extra burden,” Gywn said. “When you commit crimes, there’s a price you have to pay in a lot of different areas, a lot of different ways. This is just one way you’re going to have to pay.”
Published in The Messenger 3.7.12