Ever Been Arrested for Marijuana in Rhode Island? Now is the Time to Expunge Your Record.
Updated: Oct 17
It’s official - Rhode Island has become the 19th state to legalize recreational marijuana. On May 25, 2022, the Governor signed into law the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, which “permits the possession and sale of up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of cannabis for adults, ages 21 and older, with no more than 10 ounces (283 grams) for personal use kept at a person’s home.” It also allows residents to grow up to three cannabis plants in a private residence. Importantly, a cornerstone provision of the Act is the automatic expungements of certain marijuana-related convictions beginning July 1, 2024.
Although Rhode Island decriminalized minor marijuana possession offenses to a fine-only penalty in 2013, anyone who was previously convicted of a cannabis-related crime faces numerous struggles to land a job, find housing, secure loans, become professionally licensed and receive government benefits. If you’re concerned about having a prior criminal marijuana charge on your record, you DO NOT have to wait two years to get your record expunged. In this blog, Rhode Island Criminal Defense and Expungement Lawyer Ann Sheeley explains expungement, what marijuana-related charges are now eligible and what you can do right now to clear your name.
What does it mean to expunge your record?
With a simple click, anyone can easily access your criminal record, including police, prosecutors, federal agencies, such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, employers, landlords, banks, family, etc. Fortunately, it’s possible to keep certain convictions private by having your criminal records expunged.
The benefit of expungement is that it usually involves the complete wiping of the conviction, as if it never occurred. With a few exceptions, once a court grants you an expungement, the charge will not appear on a background check and you will never have to disclose that you were convicted of that crime. For more information on expungements, click here.
What charges qualify for expungement under the Rhode Island Cannabis Act?
Under the new law, any prior civil violation, misdemeanor or felony conviction for possession of marijuana that is now decriminalized is eligible for expungement. According to Yes We Cannabis Rhode Island, a coalition fighting for equitable cannabis policies and restorative justice in Rhode Island, that equates to approximately 27,000 cases in our state where possession of marijuana was the one and only charge.
Convictions involving multiple charges are more complex. Typically, cases can only be expunged as a whole and not for individual charges. However, lawmakers decided to allow a marijuana possession charge to be isolated and expunged, even if the rest of the charges pertaining to the case are not eligible for expungement.
Unlike most expungements in Rhode Island which have specific eligibility requirements and waiting periods, marijuana possession charges can now be expunged even if you’ve had prior arrests and convictions, pending criminal proceedings or outstanding fines, fees or Court costs.
Larger offenses, such as intent to deliver marijuana, or manufacturing, are currently ineligible for expungement.
How Do I Get My Record Expunged?
Since each person’s circumstances are unique, we recommend that you contact Sheeley Law for a free consultation so we may review your records and see if you are eligible for expungement. If you meet the eligibility requirements under the new law, we will draft, file, and argue the motion on your behalf. Attorney Ann Sheeley will handle all aspects of your expungement, alleviating you of any stress or anxiety you may feel about appearing in court.
If you have a previous marijuana-related conviction, Sheeley Law can help you navigate the new law and assist you with removing the charges from your criminal records. Attorney Ann Sheeley has more than 25 years of experience helping people expunge their records in order to keep their private life private and protect their future. We offer a free consultation and are available 24/7 by calling 401-619-5555 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.