Rhode Island Sealing and Expungement Lawyer

Did you know that your criminal record is public knowledge in Rhode Island? In fact, anyone can access your record online on Rhode Island Court Connect.

If you have a criminal record that is preventing you from getting a job or if you are tired of the stigma a criminal record carries, call the RI Expungement Lawyers at Abilheira Law. We have helped shape sealing and expungement law in the State and can help you erase your record.

Is there a difference between a motion to seal and a motion to expunge?

While they end result is the same, Motions to Seal and Motions to Expunge are two different avenues with unique eligibility requirements and policies behind them.

Motions to Seal

A motion to seal removes exonerations off your record and is appropriate in situations where:

  1. You have been exonerated of the case at hand- this includes dismissals, acquittals, and no true bills
  2. You do not have any felony convictions on your record

The policy behind Motions to Seal is to accurately reflect what occurred in the judicial system. If a case was dismissed or the prosecution could not meet their burden, there is absolutely no reason why you should keep that case on your record. For this reason, there is no limit on the number of Motions to Seal you can file, so long as you meet the above eligibility requirements.

Motions to Expunge

A motion to expunge removes a criminal conviction off your record and is appropriate where:

  1. You are a first time offender
  2. You have not been convicted of a crime of violence
  3. You have waited the required time:

** 5 years from the completion of your sentence for a misdemeanor
** 10 years from the completion of your sentence for a felony
** 1 year if you received a “filing”- although it should automatically be removed, it does not always happen
** 3 years for a domestic violence “filing”- again, although it should automatically be removed from your record, this does not always happen

The policy behind Motions to Expunge is to give those who have been successfully rehabilitated a second chance. For this reason, you will only be allowed to remove one criminal conviction from your record.

Please note that if you are successful and your Motion to Expunge is granted, you will be required to pay a $100 “court processing” charge.

If you believe you are eligible for sealing and/or expungement, call the RI Sealing and Expungement Attorneys at Abilheira Law, who will evaluate your case. If you are eligible, an attorney will file a motion on your behalf and appear in court to argue your case.

​How to obtain your criminal record

​​Official records can only be obtained at the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) at the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, located at 150 South Main Street in Providence, RI. Official records cost $5.00 and only checks or money orders are accepted. If someone other than yourself will be obtaining your record, they must bring a signed and notarized letter of consent, a copy of your driver’s license or other photo ID, as well as the $5.00 fee.

As previously mentioned, criminal records can also be viewed online on Rhode Island Court Connect. However, these are not the official records and may not always be accurate.

Recent Expungement Successes

In April 2013, Attorney Allison Belknap successfully argued State of Rhode Island v. Doris Poulin before the Rhode Island Supreme Court. In a unanimous decision, the Court found that even if an individual had previously entered a nolo contendere plea to felony and received probation as a sentence, they had not been “convicted” of a felony, and therefore that individual was not barred for filing motions to seal.​