Having a criminal record, either a misdemeanor or felony, can have devastating and long-term consequences. For young people, a criminal record can affect your ability to apply for financial aid, be accepted at the college of your choice and inhibit your ability to get a job. For adults, a criminal record can severely impact your employment and may prevent you from getting the job of your dreams. You do not want a one-time mistake to impact your future.
The State of Rhode Island has one of the most lenient Expungement statutes in the country. Under Rhode Island law a first offender in certain cases may have their records expunged. Although often considered the same, Rhode Island laws dealing with the expungement of criminal records and the destruction or sealing of criminal records are distinct and have different requirements. Both laws provide for a clean criminal record, which is beneficial when applying for employment, college admissions, financial aid and the military.
Motions to expunge are filed when a person is a first time offender, meaning a person who has been convicted of a felony offense or a misdemeanor offense, and who has not been previously convicted of or placed on probation for a felony or a misdemeanor and against whom there is no criminal proceeding pending in any court. Motions to expunge are time specific and may be denied if not timely filed.
Pursuant to Rhode Island General Law 12-1.3-2 (Expungement Statute):
(a) Any person who is a first offender may file a motion for the expungement of all records and records of conviction for a felony or misdemeanor by filing a motion in the court in which the conviction took place, provided that no person who has been convicted of a crime of violence shall have his or her records and records of conviction expunged.
(b) Subject to subsection (a) of this section, a person may file a motion for the expungement of records relating to a misdemeanor conviction after five (5) years from the date of the completion of his or her sentence.
(c) Subject to subsection (a) of this section, a person may file a motion for the expungement of records relating to a felony conviction after ten (10) years from the date of the completion of his or her sentence.
A person is not eligible for an expungement if they have multiple criminal convictions or if they have committed a crime of violence. A crime of violence is defined as:
"Crime of violence" includes murder, manslaughter, first degree arson, kidnapping with intent to extort, robbery, larceny from the person, first degree sexual assault, second degree sexual assault, first and second degree child molestation, assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to rob, assault with intent to commit first degree sexual assault, burglary, and entering a dwelling house with intent to commit murder, robbery, sexual assault, or larceny.
Motions to seal are filed when a charge was dismissed, never filed or if the person was found not guilty after trial. Motions to seal are not time specific and can be filed immediately after the case is resolved.
Pursuant to Rhode Island General Law 12-1-12.1 (Sealing Statute):
(a) Any person who is acquitted or otherwise exonerated of all counts in a criminal case, including, but not limited to, dismissal or filing of a no true bill or no information, may file a motion for the sealing of his or her court records in the case, provided, that no person who has been convicted of a felony shall have his or her court records sealed pursuant to this section.
(b) Any person filing a motion for sealing his or her court records pursuant to this section shall give notice of the hearing date set by the court to the department of the attorney general and the police department which originally brought the charge against the person at least ten (10) days prior to the hearing.
(c) If the court, after the hearing at which all relevant testimony and information shall be considered, finds that the person is entitled to the sealing of the records, it shall order the sealing of the court records of the person in that case.
(d) The clerk of the court shall, within forty-five (45) days of the order of the court granting the motion, place under seal the court records in the case in which the acquittal, dismissal, no true bill, no information or other exoneration has been entered.
(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, in all cases involving a filing subsequent to a plea of not guilty, guilty or nolo contendere to a charge of a crime involving domestic violence, the court having jurisdiction over the case shall retain the records of the case for a period of three (3) years from the date of filing. The records shall not be expunged, sealed, or otherwise destroyed for a period of three (3) years from the date of the filing.
A person is not eligible for a sealing if they have a felony conviction on their record.
If you or a family member have a criminal record which is affecting your ability to find gainful employment, please allow Attorney Robert H. Humphrey's reputation, experience and skill to successfully guide you through the legal process when you have an expungement matter. Please contact Attorney Robert H. Humphrey at 401-816-5862 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.