Expungement Law

You’ve committed a crime over a decade ago and have stayed out of trouble and turned your life around since. However, that conviction still haunts your life through public record searches, job application notification and housing applications. Rhode Island has recently expanded who is eligible to have their criminal records expunged. You may now qualify for an expungement.

If you have only one criminal matter on your record you may be eligible after a certain period of time to have that matter expunged. Furthermore, if you have multiple misdemeanor convictions, you may be eligible to have those matters expunged after a certain period of time.

What is an expungement?

An expungement is the legal sealing and retention of all records of a conviction and/or probation and the removal from active files of all records and information relating to conviction and/or probation.

My case was dismissed, can I get it off my record?

You are eligible to have a dismissal sealed from your criminal record. There is an exception if you have been convicted of a Felony Offense. Then you would not be eligible to have the dismissed case sealed. The lone exception to this preclusion is an acquittal after trial. In that specific instance, the matter is instantaneously eligible for a motion to seal.

What records are affected if my case is expunged?

All court records, all records in the possession of any state or local police department, the bureau of criminal identification and the probation department, including, but not limited to, any fingerprints, photographs, physical measurements, or other records of identification.

Am I eligible for an expungement?

You are eligible for an expungement if you meet the following criteria:

1.      You are a first-time offender.

2.      You have waited the requisite period of time since the completion of their sentence.

          a.       five (5) years for misdemeanors

          b.      ten (10) years for felonies

3.      During the waiting period, you have not been convicted of nor arrested for any felony or misdemeanor.

4.      There are no criminal proceedings pending against you.

5.      You have exhibited good moral character.

Who qualifies as a First Offender?

Rhode Island Law defines a first offender as 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.

Are any crimes prohibited from Expungement?

Rhode Island Law prohibits crimes of violence from being expunged. Crimes of violence are 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.

I have multiple misdemeanor convictions, am I eligible for an expungement?

The short answer is it depends. The Rhode Island General Assembly has recently expanded who is eligible for expungements outside of first offenders. However, they have specifically prohibited certain crimes from expungement if you have multiple misdemeanor convictions. The following crimes are not eligible, Crimes of violence, Domestic Violence Convictions, Driving Under the Influence and Chemical Test Refusals.

You may be eligible to expunge multiple misdemeanor convictions if you meet the following criteria:

1.      You have been convicted of more than one (1) but less than six (6) misdemeanors.

2.      You have not been convicted of a felony.

3.      You have waited ten (10) years since the completion of your last misdemeanor sentence.

4.      During the ten (10) years since the completion of your last sentence, you have not been arrested nor convicted of any felony or misdemeanor.

5.      You have no pending criminal cases.

6.      You have exhibited good moral character.

What does “exhibited good moral character” mean?

According to Rhode Island Law,  the Judge or Magistrate hearing the expungement motion must be satisfied that you, the petitioner, have been satisfactorily rehabilitated and that the expungement of the records of his or her conviction is consistent with the public interest. In theory you can meet every requirement but still be denied by the Court if you fail to meet this burden.

Contact the Law Office of Matthew L. LaMountain to walk you through this process and determine if you meet the requirements for an expungement. We will file the necessary paperwork to get your criminal convictions expunged and help prepare your case to show the Court that you have exhibited good moral character since your conviction.

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