§ 12-1.3-5. Expungement of marijuana records.
(a) Any person with a prior civil violation, misdemeanor or felony conviction for possession only of a marijuana offense that has been decriminalized subsequent to the date of conviction shall be entitled to have the civil violation or criminal conviction automatically expunged, notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 1.3 of title 12. For purposes of this section, “conviction” means, in addition to judgments of conviction entered by a court subsequent to a finding of guilty, or plea of guilty, those instances where the defendant has entered a plea of nolo contendere and has received a jail sentence or a suspended jail sentence, or those instances wherein the defendant has entered into a deferred sentence agreement with the Rhode Island attorney general and the period of deferment has not been completed.
(b) Records shall be expunged pursuant to procedures and a timeline to be determined by the chief justice; provided however, that all eligible records shall be expunged before July 1, 2024.
(c) The chief justice may provide for an expedited procedure for expungement of a prior misdemeanor or felony conviction for possession only of a marijuana offense that has been decriminalized subsequent to the date of conviction. Any such expedited procedure shall require a written request by the person requesting expungement, and any expedited expungement shall be granted in accordance with a timeline to be determined by the chief justice.
(d) If the amount of marijuana is not stated in the record of conviction or any related record, report or document, then the court shall presume the amount to have been two ounces (2 oz.) or less.
(e) Any person who has been incarcerated for misdemeanor or felony possession of marijuana shall have all court costs waived with respect to expungement of his or her criminal record under this section.
(f) If the court determines a record is to be expunged in accordance with the provisions of this section, it shall order all records and records of conviction or civil adjudication relating to the conviction or civil adjudication expunged and all index and other references to it removed from public inspection. Within a reasonable time, the court shall send a copy of the order to the department of the attorney general, the police department that originally brought the charge against the person, and any other agency known by the petitioner to have possession of the records of conviction or adjudication.
(g) Eligible expungement of convictions and civil adjudications pursuant to this section shall be granted notwithstanding the existence of:
(1) Prior arrests, convictions, or civil adjudications including convictions for crimes of violence as defined by § 12-1.3-1;
(2) Pending criminal proceedings; and
(3) Outstanding court-imposed or court-related fees, fines, costs, assessments or charges. Any outstanding fees, fines, costs, assessments or charges related to the eligible conviction or civil adjudication shall be waived.
(h) Nothing in this section shall be construed to restrict or modify a person’s right to have their records expunged, except as otherwise may be provided in this chapter, or diminish or abrogate any rights or remedies otherwise available to the individual.
(i) The existence of convictions in other counts within the same case that are not eligible for expungement pursuant to this section or other applicable laws shall not prevent any conviction otherwise eligible for expungement under this section from being expunged pursuant to this section. In such circumstances, the court shall make clear in its order what counts are expunged and what counts are not expunged and/or remain convictions. In such circumstances, notwithstanding subsection (e) of this section, any expungement pursuant to this subsection shall not affect the records related to any count or conviction in the same case that are not eligible for expungement.
(j) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the court or any other private or public agency to reimburse any petitioner for fines, fees, and costs previously incurred, paid or collected in association with the eligible conviction or civil adjudication.
(k) Any conviction or civil adjudication ordered expunged pursuant to this section shall not be considered as a prior conviction or civil adjudication when determining the sentence to be imposed for any subsequent crime or civil violation.
(l) In any application for employment, license, or other civil right or privilege, or any appearance as a witness, a person whose conviction of a crime or civil adjudication has been expunged pursuant to this chapter may state that he or she has never been convicted of the crime or found to be a civil violator; provided, that, if the person is an applicant for a law enforcement agency position, for admission to the bar of any court, an applicant for a teaching certificate, under chapter 11 of title 16, a coaching certificate under § 16-11.1-1, or the operator or employee of an early childhood education facility pursuant to chapter 48.1 of title 16, the person shall disclose the fact of a conviction or civil adjudication.
(m) Whenever the records of any conviction or civil adjudication of an individual have been expunged under the provisions of this section, any custodian of the records of conviction or civil adjudication relating to that crime or violation shall not disclose the existence of the records upon inquiry from any source, unless the inquiry is that of the individual whose record was expunged, that of a bar admission, character and fitness, or disciplinary committee, board, or agency, or court which is considering a bar admission, character and fitness, or disciplinary matter, or that of the commissioner of elementary and secondary education, or that of any law enforcement agency when the nature and character of the offense in which an individual is to be charged would be affected by virtue of the person having been previously convicted or adjudicated of the same offense. The custodian of any records which have been expunged pursuant to the provisions of this section shall only release or allow access to those records for the purposes specified in this subsection or by order of a court.
(n) The judiciary and its employees and agents are immune from any civil liability for any act of commission or omission, taken in good faith, arising out of and in the course of participation in, or assistance with the expungement procedures set forth in this section. This immunity shall be in addition to and not in limitation of any other immunity provided by law.
History of Section.
P.L. 2022, ch. 31, § 8, effective May 25, 2022; P.L. 2022, ch. 32, § 8, effective May 25, 2022; P.L. 2022, ch. 234, art. 2, § 4, effective June 28, 2022.