The Rhode Island law regarding expungement of cases upon which sentencing has been deferred has seen a great deal of change and upheaval in recent years. Prior to 2006, felony cases where a defendant had plead nolo contendre and received a deferred sentence were generally treated as eligible for expungement upon completion of the deferred sentence agreement. This means that most criminal defense attorneys and prosecutors entered into deferred sentence agreements withe the mutual understanding that once the five (5) year period of deferment had been successfully completed the case would be eligible for expungement.
This interpretation of the Rhode Island Expungement law was completely contrary to the Rhode Island Supreme Court's decision in State of Rhode Island v. Briggs. In this 2006 decision by the Rhode Island Supreme Court, the Court determined that deferred sentences should be treated as "conviction" for purposes of the expungement statute and therefore the ten (10) year waiting period applied to deferred sentences.
This new interpretation means that an individual who plead nolo contendre and received a deferred sentence would need to complete the five (5) year period of deferment and THEN wait ten (10) years prior to moving to expunge the record.
At this time in 2014, this decision negatively impacts those individuals who plead nolo contendre and received a deferred sentence after 1999. Those individuals who received deferred sentences before 1999 would be eligible for expungement under the Briggs interpretation of the Rhode Island Expungement law.
If you have questions regarding the expungement of a deferred sentence, contact Attorney Matthew Marin at 401-228-8271 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for an in-depth analysis of your situation.
Part Two of the series regarding the Expungement of Deferred Sentences in Rhode Island will discuss the recent changes to the expungement statute made by the Rhode Island Legislature.
Deferred Sentence Statute: http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE12/12-19/12-19-19.HTM