Expungement for Prostitution Charges Now Possible After One Year

January 27, 2010 - 3:37pm

by Annelise Grimm

In November 2009, Rhode Island legislators passed a law making prostitution illegal regardless of where it takes place.  First-time offenders are now subject to a misdemeanor and up to six months in prison, or a fine of between $250 and $1,000, or both.

However, in recognition of the fact that many individuals who engage in prostitution do so under dire circumstances, Rhode Island legislators included a new expungement clause in the bill.   The new law states that individuals with a prostitution or loitering for the purposes of prostitution charge may be eligible for expungement one year after they have completed their sentence.  Only the charges for prostitution or loitering for prostitution are eligible for expungement under this law. 

Anyone interested in applying for expungement of prostitution charges should contact OpenDoors at 781-5808 ext. 108.

In addition, the new law includes protections for individuals who have been coerced into prostitution.  In other words, if someone forced you into prostitution, by threatening you or abusing you, or by threatening to report you to the police or immigration officials for other crimes, you should not be prosecuted under the prostitution law.  If you think you might be a victim of coercion, you should tell your lawyer, and discuss the possibility of pleading not guilty.


Q: I have multiple charges for prostitution on my record.  Can I still have my record expunged?

A: It depends on when your arrests occurred.  Any prostitution arrests after Nov. 3, 2009 are eligible for expungement after one year, regardless of how many times you have been arrested.  However, it is unclear at this point whether or not this bill will be retroactive.  If your arrest for prostitution occurred before Nov. 3, 2009 (for “loitering for indecent purposes”), you might still be eligible for expungement.  This question will hopefully be decided in the near future. 

Q: If I am given a jail sentence and probation for prostitution, am I eligible one year after my prison sentence ends, or one year after I complete my probation?

A:  You are be eligible for expungement one year after you have completed your entire sentence.  So, you must wait until one year after you have completed probation.


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