As detailed in the Providence Journal last week ('At the R.I. Assembly: New push for expungement bill'), the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved new expungement legislation which now awaits approval in the Senate. The Bill seeks to correct the current expungement law involving deferred sentences. Currently, the Rhode Island Expungement Law treats individuals seeking to expunge deferred sentences differently based upon when the sentence was imposed. There are currently three tiers to Rhode Island’s treatment of deferred sentences for expungment purposes.
The legislation pending in the Rhode Island General Assembly would seek to correct the inequitable treatment of those deferred sentences which were imposed between January 2001 and July 2010.
DEFERRED SENTENCES IMPOSED PRIOR TO JANUARY 2001
If you plead nolo contendre and received a deferred sentence more than 15 years ago (January 25, 2001 at the time of this blog post), you are now eligible to have your deferred sentence expunged. This is because, under the most extreme reading of the Rhode Island expungement law with respect to deferred sentences, you have completed your five year deferred sentence agreement AND waited the ten years required by the Rhode Island Supreme Court prior to the expungement of your case. If you fall into this category, do not delay and move promptly to ensure that your deferred sentence is expunged.
DEFERRED SENTENCES IMPOSED BETWEEN JANUARY 2001 AND JULY 2010
If you plead nolo contendre and received a deferred sentence sometime between January 2001 and July 2010, your deferred sentence will be treated differently for expungement purposes. Unlike those cases that occurred before January 2001, you have not waited the required fifteen years (five years for the deferred sentence and ten years after that) to have your case expunged under the current interpretation of Rhode Island’s expungement case law.
Moreover, you do not enjoy the benefit of the legislation passed in 2010 to allow individuals to expunge their deferred sentences after only five years. The 2010 Expungement law update states that any individual who receives a deferred sentence is eligible to expunge the case upon completion of the deferred sentence agreement. However, the Rhode Island Supreme Court has only applied this law prospectively, meaning it does not apply to cases which were resolved prior to the passage of the law in July 2010.
The effect of this is that those individuals who received deferred sentences between January 2001 and July 2010 must wait fifteen years (five years for the deferred sentence agreement and ten years after that for the expungement waiting period) prior to expunging their record. The current legislation being considered by the Rhode Island Legislature in 2016 would seek to correct this inequity and allow individuals in this 2001-2010 timeframe to expunge their deferred sentences now.
DEFERRED SENTENCES IMPOSED AFTER JULY 2010
Those individuals that received a deferred sentence after the July 2010 passage of the Expungement Law update are permitted to expunge their cases immediately upon the successful completion of the deferred sentence agreement. Neither the Supreme Court nor any pending legislation would alter or change this eligibility timing.
FREE EXPUNGEMENT CONSULTATION
We understand that the Rhode Island Expungement law is complicated. We also hope that this information has been informative and helpful. If you are confused or unsure of the expungement eligibility of your deferred sentence, give us a call or fill out our free expungement consultation form. We would be happy to review your case and give you a no-nonsense opinion regarding your eligibility. Call us today at 401-228-8271.