Guidance Issued by Rhode Island Supreme Court on Expungement Law

The newly implemented law offers guidance on expunging marijuana records in compliance with the legalization law that was enacted in 2022.

An executive order issued by the State Supreme Court Chief Justice describes the procedures and policies involved in determining which records qualify for expungement. This includes investigating specific violations for misdemeanor and felony-level cases.

The Traffic Tribunal, the Superior Courts and District Courts will be responsible for determining which cases qualify for expungement and will also manage the sealing process. Expungement is not automatic; individuals seeking expungement must file a request with the Clerk's Office in all three agencies either in person or through email. It's anticipated that these expungements should affect nearly 27,000 individuals with convictions solely involving marijuana possession and thousands more who have cannabis convictions on their criminal records. Once a record has been expunged, the record (and any references to it) are no longer available for public view.

Courts are required to submit cases to the Attorney General's office for review prior to expunging petitioned convictions. Civil cases must be reviewed by the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles before receiving expungement.

Employers are encouraged to review and revise (as necessary) policies related to hiring decisions and convictions involving marijuana in the state of Rhode Island.

Posted: February 15, 2023

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