It has been a confusing decade for the expungement of cases involving deferred sentences in Rhode Island. Prior to 2006, the law provided (and everybody assumed) that Deferred Sentences were immediately expungable upon the completion of the deferred sentence agreement.
However, in 2006 the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled that deferred sentences were considered "probation" for purposes of expungement. This meant that those seeking to expunge felony deferred sentences would be forced to wait 10 years after the deferred sentence was completed. For many individuals, they entered into the deferred sentence agreement with the understanding that the case would be dismissed and expunged upon the completion of the sentence only to be told that they would have to wait an additional 10 years.
In 2010, the Legislature attempted to rectify the situation and make all deferred sentences expungable upon completion of the deferred sentence agreement. However, this time again, the Rhode Island Supreme Court declined to apply the law retroactively without explicit legislative intent. This ruling meant that those who plead to deferred sentences after the passage of the law needed only to complete the deferred sentence agreement. But, those that had previously plead to a deferred sentence would still need to wait 10 years after the completion of the agreement.
This new bill, approved by the House as reported by The Providence Journal, if passed by the Legislature, would officially apply the law retroactively and allow for the expungement of deferred sentences upon the completion of the deferred sentence agreement for everyone. When additional updates regarding the status of this law become available, we will be sure to update here.
To read the full article as covered by Katherine Gregg in The Providence Journal, follow this link: