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Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch is urging the Rhode Island Senate to pass Senate Bill 2646. The bill would greatly reduce the waiting period for people who have successfully completed a deferred sentence, as well as expand eligibility to people who have multiple misdemeanors.

Under current law, first time offenders who complete a deferred sentence can have their misdemeanor expunged after 5 years and their felony after 10 years. The new law would allow for sealing after the successful completion of a deferred sentence for any misdemeanor and for felonies offenses committed by first-time offenders.

Since the records would be sealed rather than destroyed (expunged) as called for in earlier versions of the bill and current law, and thus available for use by the police in subsequent investigations, a spokesperson for said Lynch that Lynch views the current bill as “a compromise of public safety, the integrity of criminal records and the integrity of the process.” The sponsors include Sen. Charles Levesque, D-Portsmouth, and Providence Senators Harold Metts, Paul Jabour and Juan Pichardo.

In 2009 alone, state court judges expunged a total of 8,755 records, that included the records of 291 felonies and 2,803 misdemeanors in which the defendant was found guilty or pleaded no contest.

Deferred sentences common in Rhode Island, especially in cases where a defendant has negotiated a plea that saved the state the expense of a trial.

Written by Mathew Higbee, Esq

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