In Rhode Island, you can petition to have your misdemeanor or felony record expunged or sealed, which removes the information from public access. An expungement is a legal avenue you can pursue if you have been convicted of a crime. Sealing is for cases that were dismissed or for which you were found not guilty.
To be eligible for either expungement or sealing, you must meet certain criteria. For instance, to have your misdemeanor record wiped, you must have been a first-time offender, meaning you were never convicted of or received probation for a prior offense. Also, you must wait five years after you completed your sentence/probation before you can petition for this type of relief. Similar requirements exist for felony expungement eligibility – only the waiting period is 10 years from the completion of your sentence.
Requesting a court to expunge or seal your record can be complicated and overwhelming, and it's best to have a lawyer on your side throughout, as the outcome can have profound effects on your life.
Having your criminal record wiped may be beneficial for various aspects of your life, including:
- Community reputation: Arrest and conviction information is publically available, which means anyone can access yours. Thus, friends, neighbors, family members may see that you have been involved in a criminal matter, something you may have been hoping to keep private.
- Mental wellbeing: You may have been charged with a crime because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. You learned from your mistakes and haven't had a brush with the law since. However, your past indiscretion may remain in the back of your mind because you know it's still on your record and others can potentially see it. Getting the information removed can provide some personal relief.
- Employment: In Rhode Island, employers are not legally allowed to ask about misdemeanor or felony arrests or convictions on an application. However, they can during the hiring interview. If you're seeking employment and are questioned about your criminal past, you must answer truthfully. But, if your record is erased by process of expungement or sealing, you can lawfully say that you have never been convicted. Some exceptions exist, and an attorney can help you understand when you must tell a potential employer about an expunged conviction.
- Housing: If you're looking for a place to live, your potential landlord may run a background check on you and discover your criminal history. Seeing a misdemeanor or felony conviction on your record can influence their final decision. Having the information cleared can remove such hurdles from your life.
- College: The decision-maker of a college or university may deny your application because of your criminal history. Additionally, some felony offenses can prevent you from qualifying for federal financial aid. To ensure that your past mistake doesn't bar you from pursuing future goals, speak with a lawyer about getting your record cleared.
At The Law Office of Thomas C. Thomasian, Esq., we recognize the challenges you can face because of an arrest or charge on your record. That is why we will work hard for you to seek to have the information wiped.
Discuss your legal options during a free case consultation by calling us at (401) 312-4385 or contacting us online.