Rhode Island Background Checks at All-time High

As reported by Mark Reynolds in the October 19, 2013 edition of the Providence Journal, more people are requesting criminal background checks in Rhode Island than ever before. Recent changes in the law have expanded the number of people who are required to have a background check, such a school volunteers. The Department of Attorney General, specifically the Bureau of Criminal Identification, is the office which conducts Rhode Island background checks. They report seeing increased requests from employers regarding prospective employees. In 2010, the number of background check requests was 57,015. By 2012, the number of yearly requests increased to 74,231.

If you do have a criminal record, there are two (2) different ways to clear your record, expungement and sealing. Each is authorized under separate statutes with their own distinct criteria for eligibility. Pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws 12-1-12, a record is sealed if the charge was dismissed, a person was found not guilty after trial, no information signed or no true bill. Any type of charge can be sealed from a person's record and a person is eligible to have the charge sealed once the case is over. However, a previous felony conviction will make a person ineligible to have another charge sealed.

Pursuant to R.I.G.L. 12-1.3-1, a record is expunged if the person entered a plea or was found guilty after trial. Not all charges can be expunged from a person's record. Crimes of violence, such as murder, arson, sexual assault, etc, cannot be expunged from a person's record. A person must wait a certain period of time before being eligible to have their record expunged. Having a previous misdemeanor or felony conviction will make a person ineligible to have another charge expunged from their record.

If you or a family member have a criminal record and want to know if you are eligible for a sealing or expungement, please contact Attorney Robert H. Humphrey, Esq., at 401-816-5862 or e-mail him at

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