Criminal System Involvement

Headline:

Courts are in the process of automatically expunging people with drug possession charges that have now been decriminalized. A new driver’s license restoration program is available to eligible Providence residents.

Last-reviewed: 10am, Jan. 25, 2023

Key Resources:

The Basics

  • Automatic expungement is available to people with certain drug possession charges that have been decriminalized by the passing of RI’s recreational marijuana law.
  • Providence city residents who have had their driver’s licenses suspended may be eligible to participate in a new license restoration program.
  • The District Court issued this administrative order related to expungement filings.
  • A new law was passed requiring judges to waive fees for defendants with certain kinds of criminal cases and who are unable to afford basic necessities. Defendants will need to prove the inability to pay either through sworn statements or enrollment into programs like SNAP, SSI or cash assistance. They can contact the court where they owe money for more information: Superior Court at 401-222-2084 or Central Registry@Courts.RI.com; District Court contact information is here. Here is the form that people can bring to their hearing with them to show their inability to pay. 
  • Probationers and Parolees with specific questions should contact their PO for further instructions.

The Breakdown

Expungement:
  • Courts have until July 1, 2024 to automatically expunge charges related to drug possession that have now been decriminalized. Eligible individuals can proactively ask the court to expunge their records. While the exact process is still being established, people can submit a written request to the court where the charges were filed.
    • In addition to the charges being expunged, outstanding fines and fees will be waived. Fines and fees already paid will not be reimbursed.
  • General expungement requirements here. Highlights include:
    • Affidavits must be signed and notarized; notaries may be found in many banks and some public libraries.
    • A new Motion to Expunge/Seal form can be found here.
  • Expungement assessments are available for eligible individuals.
    • Expungement resource guide here.
  • Providence residents who lost their license because they missed a traffic court hearing, have unpaid fines, and other monetary-related suspension may be eligible for a special driver’s license restoration program.
    • The program will provide case management, legal support and financial aid. OpenDoors and Amos House care coordinators will work with the DMV to help eligible Providence residents navigate license restoration process.
    • Note: Open Doors notes that due to high interest, applicants may have to wait 6 months before receiving assistance. Also due to high volume, they no longer can answer calls individually but do have a standing zoom open hours every Tuesday from 11am-12pm. Zoom link here.

Legal resources:

Resources:

The Bottom Line

  • Care teams can uplift information about court and correctional facilities access as well as community-based resources like House of Hope and Open Doors that support people with criminal system involvement histories.