gavel and scalesOn July 2, 2018, a new expungement bill became law in Rhode Island, allowing individuals to expunge a criminal conviction if the offense is subsequently decriminalized. House Bill 8355 and its Senate counterpart, Bill 2447, created a new category for expungement under Rhode Island General Laws §12-1.3-2. The new subsection (g) states as follows:

Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) through (f) of this section, a person may file a motion for the expungement of records related to an offense that has been decriminalized subsequent to the date of their conviction, after which the court will hold a hearing on the motion in the court in which the original conviction took place.

The first part of this subsection specifically states that individuals seeking relief under this portion of the expungement statute do not need to meet the other expungement criteria, such as being a first time offender or waiting five (5) or ten (10) years to file said motion to expunge.

Instead someone seeking relief under §12-1.3-2(g) will simply need to show:

  1. That the criminal offense for which they were previously convicted is now decriminalized
  2. That all conditions of the original criminal sentence have been completed
  3. That they have paid all fines, fees, and costs related to the conviction

Those seeking expungement under §12-1.3-2(g) will follow a similar procedure to those seeking expungement under other portions of the statute: they will need to file a motion with the sentencing court, provide notice to the police and Attorney General, and they will need to appear at a hearing.  What is unique to §12-1.3-2(g) expungement motions is the requirement that the petitioner demonstrate that the prior criminal conviction would qualify as a decriminalized offense under current law.  This may be done by way of a sworn affidavit, but may also be demonstrated in other ways.

This new expungement law will be particularly helpful for individuals who were convicted of misdemeanor possession of marijuana charges in the past, as possession of less than one ounce is marijuana is now decriminalized.  This law will also benefit individuals convicted of operating on a suspended license, first and second offense, as these charges are now civil violations rather than criminal offenses.

Additionally, individuals who were previously unable to expunge other, more serious offenses, like domestic violence charges, from their criminal record may now be eligible for expungement.  Essentially, prior to this law, people did not qualify as a “first time offender” simply because they had decriminalized offenses on their criminal background as well.  Now not only will they be able to expunge the decriminalized offense, but they will also be able to expunge the other remaining charge or charges.

If you have a criminal record in Rhode Island, contact the Rhode Island expungement lawyers at Abilheira Law today.  With the many recent changes in the Rhode Island expungement laws, you may now be eligible to clear your record, even if you were previously told you were not or had your motion to expunge denied.  Our attorneys have set legal precedent in the area of sealing and expungement and work tirelessly to help individuals clear their record and their name.

Call the RI expungement lawyers at Abilheira Law now to see if you qualify for expungement! 401-245-5100.