5/21/2008 Rhode Island Legislators Approve Bill to Destroy Criminal Records
May 21, 2008
The state of Rhode Island has just announced that the house has just passed a bill which mandates the destruction of all criminal records that resulted in a deferred sentence, a sentence usually reserved for those who plead guilty or no contest. The bill mandates that the records be quashed and destroyed automatically following the usual five year deferral period.
The bill still must be approved by the Rhode Island Senate, but if the 46-17 house vote is any indication, this measure could go into affect in short order.
Obviously, this is a set-back to any organization who conducts background checks on potential job candidates. If the state destroys these records, employers have no way of being assured that they can perform thorough due diligence on their candidates.
The fight is not over yet though. There is still time to influence the Rhode Island senate and I am certain that the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) will lead the efforts to educate Rhode Island’s public officials. We’ll pass along information on this as soon as it becomes available.
Think this only applied to minor criminal offenses? Think again. See excerpt from article written in the Providence Journal:
The court’s decision centered on two admitted criminals foiled by a judge in their efforts to get their records expunged. One had pleaded no contest to second-degree robbery; the other to a drug-possession charge. Both received deferred sentences. They both appealed to the high court after a judge ruled them ineligible for expungement: the first because he had committed a violent crime, and the second because she got into further trouble. “Because they never were actually sentenced,” their lawyer argued that “they had not been convicted of any offense and therefore all records involving their arrest and plea should be erased.” But the Supreme Court disagreed. Since “a plea of nolo contendere is an implied confession of guilt,” the court said “it follows that such a plea constitutes a conviction for purposes of weighing who is and is not eligible for expungement, even when it has been followed by a deferred sentence.”
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