How Do I Expunge My Record in Rhode Island?
Updated: Jan 20
If you’ve ever been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime, the consequences can haunt you for the rest of your life. Anyone with the ability to search the internet can easily access your criminal record with just one simple click. That includes police, prosecutors, courts, federal agencies, such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, employers, landlords, banks, colleges, family, etc. Fortunately, it’s possible to keep certain offenses private by having your criminal records sealed or expunged.
At Sheeley Law, we understand that mistakes happen and can help you get the fresh start you need in 2022. If you’re concerned about having a criminal charge on your record, it’s important that you read this article and contact Rhode Island Criminal Defense and Expungement Lawyer Ann Sheeley for a free consultation.
What does it mean to have your record sealed and/or expunged?
When a person’s record is sealed, it means that it is no longer accessible to the general public. However, your record may still be visible to government agencies, such as the FBI or Immigration Departments.
Having your record expunged goes a step further and prevents both the public and government entities from accessing the expunged criminal convictions. In essence, the legal record of your arrest is “erased” from all court records, police department records, probation department records, public records and the Bureau of Criminal Identification, meaning it will no longer be visible to those conducting background checks. Despite a few exceptions, once a court grants you an expungement, you will never have to disclose that you were convicted of that crime.
What crimes qualify for expungement in Rhode Island?
Rhode Island has some of the most lenient expungement laws in the country; however, certain criteria outlined below must be met. Since this area of law is complex, it is recommended you contact attorney Ann Sheeley to discuss the specifics of your criminal record and to see if you qualify for expungement.
First-time offenders may file a motion for expungement after 5 arrest-free years for misdemeanors, such as a DUI, and 10 arrest-free years for felonies. The clock starts ticking upon completion of your convicted sentence, and only after all outstanding court-imposed fees, fines, and other monetary obligations have been paid or waived by the court.
Note: “first offender” expungement is unavailable for “crimes of violence,” including murder, manslaughter, first-degree arson, first and second-degree sexual assault, first- and second-degree child molestation, assault with intent to murder, and other charges of intent to commit murder, robbery, sexual assault, or larceny.
Misdemeanors: Five (5) or less criminal misdemeanor convictions may be eligible for expungement in Rhode Island if certain requirements are met and you have not been convicted of a felony.
Felonies: Non-violent Felony convictions may be expunged but only if you do not have any misdemeanor or felony convictions, suspended sentences, fines or probations on your record.
Driving on a suspended license (first and second offenses) and possession of than 1 oz. of Marijuana are decriminalized offenses in Rhode Island and typically for expungement.
Dismissed and Not Guilty Findings
If the court found you not guilty or dismissed your charges, there will still be a mention of the arrest in Rhode Island’s criminal computer records and on the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI). The only way to get this record removed is to have the matter expunged. It is important to note that you cannot have a dismissed charge expunged right away if you are convicted of a related charge. For example, if you were charged with three offenses in the same criminal matter and two of your charges were dismissed but you were found guilty on one charge, you will have to wait to expunge all three charges once you completed the sentence for the convicted charge.
Judges will sometimes render a filing verdict, meaning if you stay out of trouble for one year, then your case will be dismissed and eligible for expungement. It is important to know that expungement of a filing in Rhode Island is not automatic. You will need to file a motion in court and be granted an expungement.
How Do I Start the Process of Getting My Record Expunged?
Since each person’s circumstances are unique, we recommend that you contact Sheeley Law to see if you are eligible. Attorney Ann Sheeley will review your records and help you determine your next steps for the best possible outcome. If you meet the state’s criteria, we will draft, file, and argue the motion on your behalf. Attorney Sheeley will handle all aspects of your expungement, alleviating you of any stress or anxiety you may feel about appearing in court.
Past mistakes do not have to haunt you for the rest of your life. If you have a criminal record, Sheeley Law can help you get a fresh start. 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 to you 24/7 by calling 401-619-5555 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.