Felony and misdemeanor dismissals should be expunged in Rhode Island. Any records of alleged criminal activity are deleterious records! Expungement is the process in Rhode island and Providence Plantations that allows pesky criminal records to be either destroyed or sealed. Expungement in RI erases harmful records for nearly all purposes.
You cannot expunge a dismissal or not guilty finding without filing a motion and without a brief court hearing. People often ask: “If the case was dismissed why should I get it expunged?” The answer is simple. A dismissed or not guilty case still stays on your record! A negative criminal record could affect your ability to find employment, obtain a promotion or may harm your reputation socially. A not guilty finding occurs after a judge or jury determines that you are not guilty after a trial. Cases in which there was no information should also be expunged.
Nobody wants their friends , colleagues or others fishing around looking into old police reports and records when the case was dismissed.
In Rhode Island all criminal records can be viewed by the general public at http://courtconnect.courts.state.ri.us People tend to wrongly assume that if you were charged with a crime that you must be a bad apple. People assume that you must have been guilty, even if the case was dismissed! People assume that you must have got off on a technicality.
If it was a domestic case (such as domestic assault, domestic vandalism or domestic disorderly conduct) which was dismissed then people often assume that the case was dismissed because the alleged victim, girlfriend or wife was too afraid to go forward or was financially dependent on you. It is rare that people assume that the case was dismissed because you didn’t do anything, were wrongly accused or were actually innocent! People have been conditioned to believe that all domestic charges are valid and if the case was dismissed it is part of a larger societal problem of domestic violence victims being too embarrassed or afraid to go forward and testify.
An expungement of dismissals and not guilty findings can also effect how the police will perceive you and treat you in the future. For example, if the police pull over your car they may be more likely to conduct a search if you have a criminal history even if those cases were dismissed. If another domestic incident / allegation occurs, you may be more likely to be arrested because of the negative implications of a dismissal. Potential spouses may review your criminal record before dating.
Another reason to expunge a dismissal is because if you are later convicted of a felony you may not be able to expunge the dismissal. One year filings should also be expunged at the end of the year.
Certain felony and misdemeanor convictions and probationary periods can also be expunged after a waiting period. A felony conviction or probationary period may be expunged after ten years form the end of a sentence if other legal requirements and prerequisites are met. A misdemeanor conviction or period of probation may be expunged after five (5) years from the end of a sentence if other legal requirements and prerequisites are met.
Dismissals that were never expunged can come back to haunt someone in a divorce, child custody or family law case. A spouse can seek to use the criminal record of dismissal to get an advantage in a divorce or child custody case in Family Court.
The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer as an expert or specialist in any field of practice.