One of the biggest concerns of any client who comes to me for help is whether he or she will end up with a permanent criminal conviction. This is especially true of first-time offenders who have no prior record and are worried (rightfully so) about losing their job or being able to find future employment. The good news is that in Tennessee, a majority of first-time offenses can be resolved where it does not go on your record. Here are some of the ways: Diversion. I’ve written about Tennessee judicial diversion in previous articles. As long as both you and the offense qualify, you’ll be able to have the charge taken off your record after a period of probation. It does require a guilty plea, and it also requires supervised probation along with whatever conditions the court thinks are necessary, which could include community service, classes, and court fees. Restitution. This is sometimes an option in theft or fraud cases. You may be able to avoid a guilty plea and probation by paying restitution directly to the victim. This is going to depend on the victim’s wishes as well as what the prosecutor is willing to do to dismiss the case. But if it’s available it can be an excellent way to handle a theft or fraud charge. Conditional plea. This is sometimes an option as an alternative to diversion. You must plead to the charge but then the judge withholds formally entering the plea while you complete certain conditions of the case. This include getting a valid driver’s license in a driving case, or going through drug offender school for a drug possession case. Anger management classes. Commonly seen in domestic assault crimes, this can be an excellent way to avoid a damaging permanent conviction in cases where the victim does not want to press charges. Successful completion of the classes, along with a court-ordered psychological assessment, can result in a dismissal with payment of court fees. Each case is different, and how it gets resolved is going to depend on the facts, on your situation, and on the tendencies of the prosecutor and judge. Talk to Memphis criminal lawyer Patrick Stegall about what options you might have to keep a permanent conviction off your record. Contact him at (901) 205-9894 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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