Rhode Island Expungement Lawyer
Expunging Criminal Records in Rhode Island
Criminal record expungement is the process by which Rhode Island expungement lawyer, Tom Thomasian petitions the court to clear his client's criminal record. If granted, it will have the effect of erasing all evidence that you were arrested or ever committed a crime.
Call 401.312.4385 to request your free case consultation to see if you are eligible for expungement in RI.
Do I Qualify for Expungement in RI?
In order to qualify for a Motion to Seal or Motion to Expunge, you have to be a first-time offender. Rhode Island General Laws Title 12, Chapter 1.3, Section 1 defines a first-time offender 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.
Most first-time offenders will be eligible for either a Motion to Seal or Motion to Expunge. The only exception is if you have a crime of violence on your record. Under Rhode Island General Laws Title 12, Chapter 1.3, Section 1, a crime of violence includes:
- Murder; Assault with Intent to Murder
- Robbery; Assault with Intent to Rob
- Arson of the First Degree
- First and Second Degree Sexual Assault: Assault with Intent for Sexual Assault
- Kidnapping with Intent to Extort
- Larceny Occurring Towards a Person
- Child Molestation of the First or Second Degree
- Entering into a Dwelling with Intent to Commit Any of the Above Offenses
Two Types of Motions in Rhode Island
There are two types of motions that can be filed to clear your criminal record which our Rhode Island Expungement lawyer can help with:
- Motion to Seal
- Motion to Expunge
Motion to Seal vs. Motion to Expunge
A Motion to Seal is filed when a first-time offender has been exonerated or acquitted of the charges against them and a Motion to Expunge is filed after a first-time offender has been placed on and completes a sentence or has a fine imposed. Before deciding whether to file a Motion to Seal or Motion to Expunge, you should go to the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office and get a copy of your B.C.I. This is a document that contains your entire criminal record.
Once you have your B.C.I. document in hand, contact The Law Office of Thomas C. Thomasian, Esq. right away.
Our Rhode Island expungement lawyer will be able to review your record and instantly inform you not only whether you are eligible to seal or expunge your criminal record, but also what motion to file. Once you decide on what motion to file, the firm will draft, file, and argue the motion on your behalf with the added benefit of you not having to appear in court. Our Rhode Island criminal defense attorneys will handle all aspects of your expungement with precision thus alleviating you of any stress or anxiety you may feel about appearing in court.
How Long Do You Have to Wait for an Expungement?
In Rhode Island, a person who has a misdemeanor criminal offense, such as DUI (driving under the influence) or simple assault, on their criminal record must wait five years from the expiration of the sentence in order to qualify for a criminal record expungement. For example, if a person received a sentence of one year probation on a charge of DUI (driving under the influence) or simple assault, they would have to wait a total of six years from the date they were found guilty by a judge or entered a plea of guilty.
How Long Do You Have to Wait to Get a Felony Expunged?
In RI, a person who has a felony criminal offense, such as domestic strangulation or breaking and entering (B&E), must wait a total of 10 years from the expiration of the sentence in order to qualify for a criminal record expungement. For example, if a person received a sentence of 10 years' probation on either domestic strangulation or breaking and entering, they would have to wait a total of 20 years from the date they were found guilty by a judge or entered a plea of guilty.
Exceptions to the Expungement Law in Rhode Island
There are three exceptions to the general rule regarding wait times for misdemeanors and felonies:
- The first exception is for a person charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense that receives a filing as a sentence. If a person charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense such as assault, DUI, or shoplifting, and receives a filing for a sentence, they must only wait one year from the date of the plea or guilty verdict to qualify for a criminal record expungement.
- If a person is charged with a misdemeanor domestic violence crime such as domestic assault, violation of a no contact order or domestic disorderly conduct, and receives a filing for a sentence, they must wait for a period of three years before they will qualify for a criminal record expungement.
- The final exception is for anyone charged with a felony crime such as possession of a stolen motor vehicle, larceny over $1,500, or possession of a controlled substance, that receives a deferred sentence. If a person receives a deferred sentence on a felony charge, they will qualify for a felony criminal record expungement five years from the date they received the deferred sentence.
Do I Need to Have My Criminal Record Expunged?
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.
View some of the Motions to Seal or Motions to Expunge that the firm has successfully argued on behalf of clients.
Serving Warwick, Cranston, Pawtucket and All Counties in RI
If you, a family member, or friend would like your record sealed or expunged in Rhode Island, contact The Law Office of Thomas C. Thomasian, Esq. in Providence today. Tom has been named as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer and given the 2014 Avvo Client's Choice Award for his work with criminal defense clients throughout Rhode Island.
Do not give up hope, but get in touch with the firm today to discover if your record qualifies for expungement. You have nothing to lose — all initial consultations are free!
Call 401.312.4385 for a qualified RI expungement lawyer!
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