What is an Expungement? An expungement is the “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.” RIGL § 12-1.3-1(2). What is a Sealing of a Criminal Case? Rhode Island Law, RIGL 12-1-12.1, allows the “sealing” of certain matters that resulted in an acquittal or an exoneration. These can include a dismissal, a not guilty finding after trial, a no true bill after a grand jury proceeding, or a no information after the Attorney General’s felony screening process.
However, having a felony conviction on your record may preclude you from getting these exoneration's off your record. A conviction, as it relates to a motion seal, includes a felony sentence to a suspended sentence, jail, home confinement, and/ or a fine and does not include a straight probationary sentence or a deferred sentence. 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? Rhode Island Law states that the following records will be sealed, “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.” RIGL §12-1.3-1(5). Whoqualifies 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.” RIGL §12-1.3-1(3). Are any crimes prohibited from expungement? Rhode Island Law prohibits crimes of violence from being expunged. RIGL §12-1.3-2(a). 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. RIGL §12-1.3-1(1). Are you 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. If you have multiple misdemeanor convictions, you may be eligible for an expungement 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. If you were sentenced to a deferred sentence, you may be eligible for an expungement Upon your successful completion of a deferred sentence you may be eligible for an expungement if you meet the following criteria:
1. You complied with all the terms and conditions of the deferred sentence agreement, including paying all fines, fees and costs.
2. You have no pending criminal charge.
3. You have not previously been convicted of a crime of violence.
4. You have exhibited good moral character. What does "exhibited good moral character" mean? According to Rhode Island Law, RIGL § 12-1.3-3(b)(2) 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.