How a Change to Rhode Island’s Expungement and Sealing Laws Could Affect You
A person’s criminal background is an essential part of their life. Having a record could impact employment opportunities, custody of children and family relations, buying a firearm or applying for a firearm license, citizenship opportunities, and more.
Rhode Island criminal law contains provisions for the expungement or sealing of criminal records. There are eligibility requirements a person must meet to successfully apply to have a record expunged or sealed, and time restrictions on when they may do so. The Rhode Island Expungement statute is R.I.G.L. § 12-1.3-3 and the Sealing statute is R.I.G.L. § 12-1.12.
Changes to the expungement process
On July 3, 2021, the Rhode Island legislature modified the law with regard to the expungement process. Under the previous law, when a motion to expunge was granted, the moving person had to pay a $100 fee before the court could issue the Expungement Order and provide a copy to the petitioner. Under the new law, the $100 fee has been eliminated and a copy of the Order is now free. This makes the expungement process much more accessible, especially for those who did not have the financial means to get their records expunged.
Changes to the eligibility requirements under the Sealing law
In addition, the Rhode Island legislature also modified the eligibility requirements under the Sealing law. Previously, to get your record sealed, the person must have been acquitted or otherwise exonerated of a crime. This means a dismissal, a not guilty verdict after trial, a “no true bill” following grand jury proceedings, or the filing of a “no information” after the Attorney General’s felony screening process. Under the previous law, the applicant must also not have been previously convicted of a felony.
Under the new law, the requirement of not previously been convicted of a felony is eliminated. This important change to the law is aimed to open more opportunities for those who otherwise thought they would forever be haunted by a felony conviction on their record.
Maneuvering your way through the Rhode Island Expungement and Sealing laws can be extremely difficult. If you or someone you know is interested in having a criminal record expunged or sealed, contact the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III today for a free consultation at (401) 351-5100.