Expungement Guide

Rhode Island Expungement

Rhode Island has set expungement procedure laws for first time offenders. These laws are open for both misdemeanor offenses and felony offenses. The Department of Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Identification Unit will provide, upon request, a copy of the conviction record. These records are obtained at a specific cost.

Granted Expungement
Expungement is the legal process of erasing an arrest or conviction from an individual's criminal record. By Rhode Island law a motion is filed to the court where the conviction was handled. After ten days the Attorney General's Office will either grant or deny the expungement. Once an expungement is granted the arresting police department will be notified to expunge the file in question. A date will be set by the court clerk's office for at least ten days from the filing date.

After an expungement has been granted certified copies of the court order will be provided to the Attorney General, arresting police department, and the probation department. Each department will destroy the record either in paper, electronically, or both.

Expungement Eligibility
In Rhode Island any criminal charges may be expunged, except those crimes that are deemed crimes of violence. Crimes of violence include first degree arson, manslaughter, murder, robbery, larceny from a person, kidnapping with intent to extort, first degree sexual assault, first degree child molestation, second degree sexual assault, second degree child molestation, assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to rob, burglary, larceny, sexual assault, entering a dwelling house with intent to murder, and assault with intent to commit first degree sexual assault.

First time offenders of other crimes are eligible to have criminal records expunged. Rhode Island defines a first-time offender as a person who has not previously been convicted of or placed on probation for a misdemeanor or a felony. This must apply to the crime at hand either felony or misdemeanor. Those who have previously been placed on probation are not eligible. No other criminal proceedings can be present in court for eligibility.

The Expungement Process
Before filing for an expungement an individual must wait a particular amount of time after a crime has been committed. The time period depends on the crime classification and no other criminal convictions can have followed. Those seeking expungement for misdemeanors must wait five years after the completion of pending cases, convictions, or probation before applying. Those seeking expungement for felonies must wait ten years after the completion of convictions, probations, and pending cases before applying.

Granting Expungement
Even if a person has filed for expungement and meets all the specified requirements, an expungement may at times not be granted. Expungement is at the discretion of the judge and comes on a case-by-case basis. The judge will look at the convictions, the past behavior of the individual, success of rehabilitation, purpose in assisting the community, and the moral character of the individual before granting the request. If the request is found not in the favor of the court, it will be denied. Consulting a lawyer is often advised for a successful and speedy process.

See also:
Rhode Island Misdemeanors External link (opens in new window)
Rhode Island Felony External link (opens in new window)
Rhode Island Gun Laws External link (opens in new window)