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Rhode Island Expungement Lawyer

Rhode Island Expungement Lawyer

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Expunge Your Rhode Island Criminal Records

Below you will find links to in-depth information on expungement, and state-specific resources on expungement and criminal records.

The two types of motions that are filled to clear your records are:

  • Motion to seal
  • Motion to expunge

What is an Expungement?

Expungement is a legal process through which an arrest or conviction may be erased from a person’s criminal record.

In most cases, the first-time offender of a previous conviction requests the records of the first proceeding to be sealed and marked as unavailable through state or federal entities. Successful proceedings are labeled as expunged. The terms expungement and pardon are commonly confused. These two distinct legal proceedings serve very different purposes. A pardon represents forgiveness of the event and can only be granted by the President of the United States. An expungement expresses a complete removal of the event as if it never took place. In the United States, expungements are solely granted by judges.

What is the difference between motion to seal versus motion to expunge?

In RI, a case can either be Expunged or Sealed. The effect is the absolute same thing. If a case is Expunged/Sealed, 3 things happen:

  1. The charge is deleted from the persons B.C.I. (RI’s term for your criminal record);
  2. The Court deletes the case from the Court records (which is accessible from any computer/phone with internet and what people usually see first);
  3. The police department is ordered to destroy the physical file in their possession.

If a person pleads Guilty, or is found Guilty after Trial and thus receives a criminal sentence, the term used is Expunged.

If a person has their case dismissed, or is found Not Guilty after a Trial, the term is Sealed. No one has ever explained the true difference to me or anyone else, or why we have 2 terms, but the results are exactly the same. I guess if you were sentenced by a Judge, that needs to be erased (expunged). Whereas if your case is dismissed, its simply the Sealing of the file.

How do you qualify for an expungement in Rhode Island?

As stated in Rhode Island expungement law Title 12, Chapter1.3, Section 1 to qualify for a Motion to Seal or Motion to Expunge a individual must be a “first offender” which is defined 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.

What offenses cannot be expunged?

Expungement law states “crimes of violence” which includes:

  • murder
  • manslaughter
  • first degree arson
  • kidnapping with intent to extort
  • first and second degree sexual assault
  • first and second degree child molestation
  • assault with intent to murder, rob or to commit first degree sexual assault
  • burglary and entering a dwelling house with intent to commit murder
  • robbery
  • larceny

Rhode Island Expungement Laws

RIGL §12-1-12 directs that those authorized to collect identifiers of persons arrested shall destroy them within sixty days after the accused has been acquitted or otherwise exonerated. Further, chapter 12-1.3 of the R.I.G.L. calls for the expungement of criminal records when certain criteria have been met. As the central repository for criminal records, the BCI Unit must delete the record of arrest in those cases where the accused has been acquitted or exonerated. In cases of court-ordered expungements, the BCI Unit acts within sixty days of receipt of the order.

Rhode Island law sets out a procedure for a first offender to file a motion to expunge a record of conviction for a felony or a misdemeanor. Upon request, the Department of Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Identification Unit (BCI) provides the offender a copy of the conviction record at a cost. The Judicial Records Center maintains the criminal complaint which is available for copying. The foregoing information is needed to complete a motion to expunge.

By law, the motion is filed in the court in which the conviction took place. A ten-day period is necessary for the offender to give the Attorney General’s Office and the arresting police department notice that the motion to expunge is being filed. The court clerk’s office will assign a date at least ten days from the filing date.

If the motion is granted, certified copies of the court order should be provided to the arresting police department, the Department of Attorney General, and to the probation department (if applicable), in order to give notification that the record has been ordered expunged. Each agency should destroy its record.

Because the summary set forth above is for informational purposes only, it is recommended that you contact an attorney to discuss the procedures for filing such a motion. This summary information does not guarantee that the record will be expunged after a motion has been filed.

Frequently asked expungement questions

Is a pardon the same thing as expungement?

No. A pardon can only come from the President of the United States of America. It signifies the forgiveness for a crime continue reading

Can you expunge a No Contest plea?

It depends. If a defendant is not acquitted during the legal process, he or she may opt for a filing. continue reading

Can you expunge a felony in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island expungement laws state that expungement id only available to first-time offenders not convicted of a violent crime. continue reading

Do expunged records show up on background checks?

It depends. While expungement is meant to stay off public records. However, private records may contain this information. continue reading

How long do you have to wait to get your record expunged?

It depends on the classification of the crime. continue reading

What does the expungement process look like?

The expungement process steps looks like the following continue reading

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