It’s no secret that if you have an arrest record, the details of the incident are available for anyone to see. People you know, such as friends and family, can access the information online with ease. If you apply for a job or try to rent an apartment, a potential employer or landlord will be able to see this information as well. Whether you were convicted of a crime or not, all of the details surrounding your case are accessible.
In some cases, we are able to expunge or seal your records to protect them from public viewing. This would prevent anyone from being able to pull up unflattering, personal information about you. To do this, you would need to apply for the expungement of your record. You do not need a Rhode Island Expungement Lawyer to help you, but it will make the process much easier.
If you feel it’s time to put the past in the past and move forward, free of a tainted record, keep reading to learn more about the expungement process and how it can help you.
What is Expungement?
Expungement involves deleting your criminal history from your public record and from law enforcement agencies. It would essentially make it seem as though whatever you were arrested for never happened at all. It would also protect the personal information and details surrounding your legal case from being visible to anyone in the public. There are requirements that need to be met in order to be approved for expungement.
In the state of Rhode Island, expungement is only available for first-time offenders who were not convicted of a violent crime. If you were convicted of multiple criminal charges based on a single arrest, you are still considered a first offender. If you have multiple convictions from more than a single arrest, you are no longer considered a first offender.
Crimes that are excluded from being expunged include: murder, manslaughter, first degree arson, kidnapping with intent to export, robbery, larceny from a person, first or second degree sexual assault, first or second degree child molestation, assault with intent or murder, assault with intent to rob, assault with intent to commit first degree sexual assault, burglary, and others. If you have committed any of these crimes, know that they cannot be removed from your public record. Violent crimes are not eligible for expungement.
The Rhode Island Expungement Law gives you the right to expunge certain information from your record. You can erase the following: all court records, all records in the possession of any state or local police department, the bureau of criminal identification and the probation department, including, but not limited to, any fingerprints, photographs, physical measurements, or other records of identification.
In order to have your record expunged, it helps to have a Rhode Island expungement lawyer at the reigns to walk you through the process. Another option is to have your records sealed and we can discuss the right path for you during a consultation.
What is the Expungement Process?
A Motion for Expungement must be filed in the Court system. There are several limitations on an individual’s ability to expunge a record of conviction. First, there is a five year waiting period for misdemeanor convictions and a ten year waiting period for any felony convictions.
The process begins when a Motion for Expungement is filed with the Rhode Island court system. It can take months to have everything completed, so be prepared that it may be a lengthy process. Before you can apply for expungement, you are required to meet a waiting period, which has been outlined in the next section.
The motion for expungement or sealing must be filed with the clerk of the court where the charges were brought. You will receive a court date for the motion to be reviewed. You will also need to notify the arresting police department and the attorney general of the court date. Please keep in mind that you will need to be present at this court hearing.
If granted, the motion for expungement will be approved and filed with the clerk. You will need to mail a copy of the approval to the appropriate police department and attorney general. Once the complete records have been expunged you will receive a notice. This process may take about one month.
As mentioned above, you are required to wait a certain amount of time prior to applying for expungement of your records. The waiting period varies depending on the crime.
In Rhode Island, a misdemeanor has a five-year waiting period from the date your case was settled, your sentence was completed, and your probationary period has been completed. You are required to wait a period of 10 years since the completion of a sentence and probationary period prior to applying for expungement of felony records. The waiting period for a domestic violence offense is three years.
If you have a deferred sentence where you pleaded guilty or nolo contendere, you will face a waiting period of five years.
Expungement vs. Sealing Your Records
There is a difference between having your records expunged and having them sealed. A Motion to Expunge applies in cases where you have been convicted of a crime. A Motion to Seal applies in cases where you have been exonerated of a crime. In both cases, the general public will not be able to access the personal information and details surrounding your criminal case.
What Will an Expungement do for You?
An expungement will help put your mind at ease if you feel troubled by previous charges you’ve faced. It will also protect your privacy and prevent the public from being able to access all of the details surrounding legal cases you have battled.
It’s entirely up to you whether or not you choose to have your record expunged. If you’d rather put the past behind you and move forward with your life without worrying about what occurred years ago, you may be eligible for the expungement of your records. It’s time to be proactive about having any troubling details removed from your public record.
Are You Eligible for the Expungement or Sealing of Your Records?
Call for a free consultation and we will discuss your unique situation to see if you are eligible to have your records expunged or sealed. If you are, I can assist you in moving forward to have your criminal records completely wiped out from public records and the law enforcement agencies. If you’re ready to take the next step and leave the past behind, call my office today.