Rhode Island has some of the most liberal expungement laws in the United States. Nonetheless, RI expungement laws are not liberal enough for some people with multiple convictions. If you qualify to get your records sealed, erased or destroyed, it is time to get those deleterious and insidious RI criminal records erased, sealed or destroyed! If a criminal record is sealed, destroyed or expunged, you may, in some circumstances, not inform third parties of such record.
This criminal law article constitutes a comprehensive explanation of expungement law in Rhode island as of November 2015. This area of law is often changing and in a state of flux. The legislators in Rhode Island often attempts to make expungement policy more liberal.
Pursuant to RI law, there cannot be an expungement without a motion and a hearing on the merits. A person seeking to expunge a conviction, a filing or a dismissal should get in touch with a top RI criminal defense Attorney.
Dismissed and Not Guilty Finding records
Dismissed criminal charges can nearly always be expunged. These dismissed criminal records should be expunged in RI. Despite a dismissal by the Court, there will still be a record on the Rhode Island criminal computer records and on the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) report unless the matter is expunged. This record will indicate that a person was in fact arrested and charged with a criminal offense.
The public can even view these records as public records. The public tend to assume that if a person was charged with a criminal offense that they must have done something wrong. People may assume that there was some sort of technicality. Even a dismissed criminal record could cause a person to lose an employment opportunity.
Is there any circumstances when dismissed charges that cannot be expunged?
If a related charge cannot be expunged then the dismissed charge cannot be expunged. This usually pertains to charges that relate out of the same incident and are charged together. For example, a criminal defendant was charged with three offenses related to the same incident and 2 were dismissed but the third there was a sentence of probation. The criminal defendant would be required to wait until the probation charge could be expunged until the other dismissed charges could also be expunged. This because under Rhode island criminal law a person may not seal or expunge portions of a file! I suspect that the main reason for this statutory scheme is because it would be logistically impossible to expunge a charge when there are other charges in a related incident that are not eligible to sealed.
For example, Paul was pinched by the local police with domestic disorderly, domestic simple assault and failure to relinquish a telephone (domestic) charges arising out of a domestic dispute with his girlfriend. Paul agreed to a plea on the domestic disorderly conduct charges . The domestic simple assault and refusal to relinquish telephone charges were dismissed under rule 48A. Paul would not be able to expunge the simple assault and phone interference charge until the disorderly conduct charge was eligible to be expunged.
Expungement of Not Guilty findings.
Not guilty findings after a trial on the merits by a Justice or a jury can usually be expunged. However, if the not guilty finding relates out of the same incident for another charge which cannot be expunged then the not guilty finding cannot be expunged. Pursuant to Rhode Island Law, Dismissals, No information, Not Guilty can be expunged unless there has been a felony conviction. (this is a felony conviction in the strict sense of the word such as a felony with suspended sentence, incarceration or jail time)
Expungement of one year filings in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
A filing is when the case is put aside for a year and if the person stays out of trouble for a year then the case is eligible to be expunged and destroyed at the end of the year.
If a criminal accused is not violated during the one year filing period, then a filing can be expunged even if there are other offenses before or after the filing. Expungement of a filing in Rhode Island is not automatic. A motion must be filed. If the filing is for a domestic offense then it cannot be expunged until three years.
Expungement or convictions, suspended sentences, deferred sentences, jail sentences or probation
Under the current state of Rhode Island law you cannot have any conviction, suspended sentence, fine or probation expunged if you have another conviction, suspended sentence, fine or probation on your record.
A misdemeanor or felony conviction is any sentence with a fine, suspended sentence or period of incarceration. Even though probation or a deferred sentences do not constitute convictions under Rhode Island Law they are treated the same way as convictions for expungement purposes.
A misdemeanor offense with the following sentence can be expunged five years after the completion of the sentence or probationary period: probation, suspended sentence, deferred sentence, stayed sentence, fine, jail.
A felony with the following sentences: probation, deferred sentence, suspended sentence or jail can be expunged ten years after the completion of the sentence or probationary period.-
Expungement of felony deferred sentences
Pursuant to a recent Rhode Island Supreme Court case, deferred sentences in Rhode Island are handled in the same manner as convictions for expungement purposes. If a criminal defendant in providence Superior Court receives a 5 year deferred sentence on a serious felony charge, the criminal defendant may not have the charge expunged until 10 years after the deferred sentence has ended.
How does Expungement Criminal laws in RI deal with Crimes of Violence:
Certain crimes of violence in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations may never be expunged and R.I.G.L § 12-1.3-1. states:-“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.
Noticeable absent from the definition of crimes of violence is “assault.” It could be argued by a top Rhode island criminal defense attorney that assault is not a crime of violence as it relates to expungement. If the legislature intended that assault could not be expunged they would have included it in the list.
Rhode Island Attorneys legal Notice per RI Rules of Professional Responsibility:
The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer or attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice.