The number of convicted felons applying for expungements under a new state law has been so low it demands a closer look.
Those who apply and are approved would have their voting rights and gun rights restored and no longer be branded a felon, which could open up many doors and new career possibilities.
The expungement law for felons went into effect July 1. With it, a long list of Class E felonies, including theft, forgery, fraud, auto burglary, vandalism, evading arrest and certain drug crimes are eligible for expungement with a couple of key conditions.
Anyone hoping for expungement must have committed the crime at least five years ago and have no other criminal record since. Also, the felon must pay $350 and appear in front of a judge.
"We were expecting a massive amount of people coming in on July 1," said Tommy Bradley, chief Davidson County Criminal Court clerk.
But, instead it has been a trickle. Among the thousands of those eligible, only 17 people have filled out an application and are in the process toward expungement.
Some said it reveals an uncomfortable truth that most people don't make just one mistake.
"You'll find a lot of offenders, regardless of the charge, rarely is an E felony going to be their first thing. It will usually be reduced to a misdemeanor. Rarely do people just go out and get one E felony," said defense attorney Adam Dread.
Another critical component of expungement eligibility is the applicant can't have more than one felony conviction.
"We mention that second conviction disqualifier and you can just see that there's an issue with that for a lot of folks," Bradley said. "You see the eyes drop and the shoulders drop."
For more information and to access the expungement application, visit: http://ccc.nashville.gov.
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