A felony has a big impact on a person’s life and if you live in Rhode Island, you’ve come here trying to find out how to get the felony off your record. Realize that with all felony records, there are three options you can take. 1) Expunge Your Record 2) Seal Your Record 3) Request a Pardon of Your RecordThe problem though is that all states don’t offer all three of these options. But before we get into what Rhode Island offers, let’s review what each of these options actually mean.
If you get your record expunged in Rhode Island it’s as if your arrest and/or charges never happened. Your record is completely destroyed, including all physical and public records. When asked if have a criminal record, after expungement, you can truthfully answer “no”.
Sealing your record in Rhode Island is similar to expungement, but your record still exists in a limited form. The public does not have access to your record, but there are some exceptions. Your records can still be accessed by law enforcement and the courts. Record sealing is not as secure as expungement, but it is a reasonable alternative that is comparatively easier to obtain if your state offers it.
If you receive a pardon in Rhode Island, you still have record of your arrest or charge, but your guilt is exonerated. That is, you have proven that you are rehabilitated and forgiven for your crimes. You can also get relief in terms of having various rights restored, such as your right to vote. The requirements for pardons vary between states, but typically there is a lot of documentation required, and includes lengthy waiting periods to apply and receive a pardon.
Things to Know Before You Start
First: It’s important to understand that every state is different in terms of what methods are available for felons to remove their record and the information below will help you understand what you can do in Rhode Island.
Felony Expungement in Rhode Island
Yes, it is possible to expunge your felony in Rhode Island but it depends on the felony.
Sealing a Record in Rhode Island
No, it is not possible to seal your record in Rhode Island.
Getting a Pardon in Rhode Island
Yes, it is possible to get a pardon of your record in Rhode Island but it depends on the felony.
Second: When trying to clear your record, you really have two options. The first is to get a free consultation from a lawyer to see what they think of your case, and the second is to try to do all of the paperwork yourself.
Third: We HIGHLY recommend that you get a free consultation from a lawyer prior to taking any action. We say this because whether you want to expunge, seal, or pardon your record, it’s an extremely complicated process. Failure to follow the process properly can end up with you being denied for the request and having to wait additional time (sometimes several years) before you can file again. In addition, getting an expungement lawyer can increase your odds of succeeding and sometimes it’s more affordable than you think. The first step is to click on the button below to confirm that you’re eligible for the expungement/sealing of your record.
Can You Expunge a Felony in Rhode Island?
In order to receive an expungement for a felony in Rhode Island, you must petition to the court where you were charged, and be granted an expungement by a judge.
CANNOT EXPUNGE IF…
Crime of Violence – if you were charged with a crime of violence you are ineligible to have your records expunged. Multiple Offender – if you have previously been charged with a felony, you cannot have an additional felony expunged. Required Time You must wait 10 years after the successful completion (no intervening convictions, probation, or pending cases) of your sentence and/or probation.
How to Expunge a Felony in Rhode Island
• Before you begin this process, we insist that you take this eligibility test to determine if you’re eligible to expunge your record.
• If you are eligible, you should talk to the lawyer that we refer you to so that you get an idea of the price for their services (it’s likely cheaper than you think because expungements are mostly paperwork) and see what other helpful information they can give you.
• If you are not eligible for expungement based on our test, then you should stop here.
• If you are eligible based on our test and want to do this without a lawyer, continue reading.Steps to expunge your record in Rhode IslandStep 1. Go to the clerk’s office in the courthouse where your charge was originally heard and fill out a Motion to Expunge.
• This does not cost any money to file.
• The clerk will give you your court date.Step 2. Mail a copy of the Motion to Expunge to the arresting police department and the Attorney General’s Office.Step 3. Show up to your court date ready to prove the following criteria:
• You must be able to demonstrate to the court’s satisfaction that you are of good moral character;
• have been rehabilitated and are “deserving”;
• the expungement of your criminal record is consistent with the public interest, proof of which can include but is not limited to the following:
• Regular employment and financial and other support of family;
• Successful completion of substance abuse and/or mental health counseling;
• Community or other public service; or
• Professional certification or licensing in field of employment.Step 4. If granted, you will be asked to pay $100.00 for the Expungement Order.Step 5. Mail a copy of your order to the Attorney General’s Office and the arresting police department.
• It may take the AG’s office several weeks to remove this from your record.Step 6. Obtain a new, clean copy of your BCI (Official Criminal History Report.
• Keep this copy and the original Expungement Order for your records.
Can You Seal Your Criminal Record in Rhode Island?
Unfortunately, you cannot get a felony conviction sealed in the state of Rhode Island.
Can You Apply for a Pardon in Rhode Island?
Unlike in many other states, you apply for a pardon directly with the Governor. There is no middleman (such as a Board of Pardons or Board of Parole) that looks at your application before it is sent to the Governor.
How to Apply for a Pardon in Rhode Island
• Before you begin this process, we insist that you take this eligibility test to determine if you’re eligible to request a pardon for your record. In most cases, if you are eligible for expungement on our test, then you’ll be eligible for a pardon.
• If you are eligible, you should talk to the lawyer that we refer you to so that you get an idea of the price for their services (it’s likely cheaper than you think because requesting a pardon is mostly paperwork) and see what other helpful information they can give you.
• If you are not eligible based on our test, then you should stop here.
• If you are eligible based on our test and want to do this without a lawyer, continue reading.
• As of this writing, there is not a formal application form or process to apply for a pardon. Applying for a pardon is simply a matter of drafting a written formal petition and sending it to:Governor Gina RaimondoOffice of the GovernorState House, Room 115Providence, RI 02903-1196If you have any questions, you can call the Governor’s office directly at 401-222-2080.You can also send an email to: [email protected] or contact her here.Each Governor may have their own, additional rules and procedures on what you need to do to apply for a pardon. You should always check with the office of the current Governor to whom your application will be addressed.Steps to apply for a pardon in Rhode Island:Step 1. At minimum, your petition should include the following information:
• A copy of your current BCI report (official criminal history report) from every state in which you have lived.
• You can obtain your criminal history report for each state by contacting that state’s criminal history record repository.
• If you are currently incarcerated, a full description of the offense which you are incarcerated for, as well as prison records/reports of your conduct in prison.
• Official court documents that indicate the outcome of the case, what sentence you received, and how much of that sentence you have completed thus far.
• You can obtain this information from the clerk’s office of the court where you were convicted.
• Any other information that you think may be relevant and helpful to your application. Step 2. We highly suggest that you submit, on a separate sheet of paper, a detailed and genuine personal statement explaining why you need a pardon.
• Simply saying you want a clean criminal record again is not enough.
• Tell the Governor how your conviction has negatively affected you and/or your family.
• For example, explain how you have been denied housing or employment opportunities because of your conviction, and how this has prevented you from providing you and your family an adequate standard of living.
• Submit any proof you may have (such as denial letters) to support your claims.
• If you are facing deportation because of a conviction, explain how being separated from your family will negatively affect you as well as them.
• If you are pursuing a career in a field that requires you to obtain a pardon, submit documents, letters, or other proof from a prospective employer, licensing agency, or attorney verifying this necessity.
• If you need to regain your gun rights, explain why you need this—for example, you are pursuing a career that requires the use of firearms, or you want to take part in your family hunting traditions, or you simply want to feel more secure and able to defend yourself and/or your family after a recent traumatic event.
• Also indicate in your personal statement all the positive things that have occurred in your life—for example, educational achievements, new or stable employment, marriage and children, community involvement, charitable services or donations, law-abiding behavior, etc.
• Submit copies of your college transcript, high school diploma or GED, military certificates, marriage certificate, honors and awards, and other proof of your rehabilitation and good character.
• Explain what your future plans are and how a pardon would help you.
• In writing your personal statement, keep in mind that the Governor will not retrying you for the offense.
• Although you may feel the need to explain the facts of the crime from your perspective, avoid trying to make excessive excuses for your crime and arguing away your guilt.
• However you feel about the crime, you have already been found guilty.
• The Governor is probably more interested in seeing your remorse for the crime, and your understanding of its effects on the victim and society, than anything else.Step 3. We also suggest that you submit a few letters of recommendation from credible people (such as your boss) who know you well and can say good things about you.
• These letters should indicate to what extent the writer knows you and why he or she thinks you should be granted a pardon.
• The letters should also indicate the writer’s contact information for verification purposes.
• If possible, you should choose individuals who are not related to you, in order to avoid the appearance of bias.Step 4. After the Governor receives your application, she will review it and may have her agents conduct further investigation into your personal situation, including your criminal background, your prison records, and even your medical and psychological records.
• You should be upfront and cooperative with the Governor and her agents at all times.
• There may or may not be a hearing or personal interview with the Governor.Step 5. If a hearing or interview is held, you must not only attend but also look and act your best.
• Dress in the same way you would if you were going to court for a trial.
• You should also, if permitted, have friends, family members, and others in your community attend the hearing/interview to show their support.
• The hearing/interview would be an excellent opportunity for you to put a human face onto your application; it lets the Governor not only see you in person but also see the support you have in your community.
So, there you have it. Three separate ways to get rid of your record in Rhode Island. As we’ve said numerous times throughout this page, this is a really complicated process and we highly recommend that you take this eligibility test prior to taking any action to determine if you are eligible for any of these options.
Please note, the information contained here is not legal advice and is strictly informational. If you have any further questions about the information above, or in general, you need to contact a lawyer directly.