As reported by Katherine Gregg in the January 19, 2016 edition of the Providence Journal, the General Assembly is taking steps to improve Rhode Island’s expungement laws for deferred sentences. Deferred sentences are five (5) years in length and are typically imposed in non-violent felony cases such as embezzlement, larceny and drug possession. After the sentence is complete, the person would be then be eligible to have the charge removed from their record.
Under Rhode Island law, there are two (2) options to have remove a charge from your criminal record, a sealing and an expungement. Sealings apply in cases where the charges were dismissed, the person was found not guilty after trial or no information was signed. Motions to seal can be filed any time after the case ends.
Pursuant to R.I.G.L. 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.
(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.
Expungements apply in cases where the person entered a plea to the charges or was found guilty after trial. In order to file a motion for expungement, the person must be a first time offender (not had any other charges on their record) and waited a certain period of time.
Pursuant to R.I.G.L. 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 he/she committed a crime of violence or committed multiple crimes. R.I.G.L. 12-1.3-1 defines "crime of violence" and "first time offender" as follows:
- "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.
- "First offender" means 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 who there is no criminal proceeding pending in any court.
If you or a family member have a criminal record and you want to determine if you may be eligible for a sealing or expungement, please contact Attorney Robert H. Humphrey at 401-816-5862 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org