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Does a misdemeanor go on your record?

By The Law Office of Brett V. Beaubien

November 11, 2023

Does a misdemeanor go on your record?

You may be wondering – does a misdemeanor go on your record in Rhode Island? Misdemeanor crimes can result in jail time, fines, probation, and other penalties. While many individuals who are convicted of misdemeanors do not serve any jail time, the misdemeanor can go on their record depending on the nature of the case and the applicable laws. Any type of criminal record can have a major impact on a person’s life. It can impact employment, housing, education, and other opportunities.


A misdemeanor is defined as a minor wrongdoing, but it can have a major impact on the life of the convicted and their loved ones. This is especially true if the criminal act goes on their public record. There are two categories of criminal offers — a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor is a less serious criminal offense and has less severe legal consequences.

In Rhode Island, misdemeanors are punishable by no more than one year at the Adult Correctional Institution (prison). In Massachusetts, some misdemeanors can come with up to 2.5 years in the house of corrections but not state prison.

What qualifies as a misdemeanor depends on the jurisdiction. However, some common examples of criminal acts that are considered a misdemeanor include simple assault, violation of restraining order, drunk driving, or disorderly conduct. It is important to keep in mind that whether an act is considered a felony or misdemeanor depends on several factors, so if you need information about a specific case, you should consult with a Rhode Island criminal defense attorney.


Even if you don’t face jail time or high fines for a crime, it can still show up on your criminal record. It is a common misconception that if you are not incarcerated, you are not guilty. While a misdemeanor crime is less severe, it is still a crime, and it can still show up on your record.

Once the misdemeanor charge becomes a conviction, the legal system records the offense on the individual’s criminal record. All criminal records are maintained by law enforcement agencies.

A misdemeanor is going to show up on background checks, which are often used for employment, housing, and other purposes. The background checks are based on information provided by candidates, such as their SSN.

Generally, all criminal records, including misdemeanors and felonies, will appear on a criminal record. Some states have restrictions on conviction disclosures. This means if you have a misdemeanor record, there might only be limited information available on public records for the crime. There are several states that prohibit disclosure of certain criminal records if more than seven years have passed since the conviction. The criminal background checks will reveal the history of incarceration and pending criminal cases. In some cases, the check will also show arrests.


Having a misdemeanor on your criminal record can have major repercussions. A primary concern is that your employment opportunities might be impacted. There are a lot of employers that run background checks as part of their hiring process. Any misdemeanors, especially those that are not disclosed by the candidate, can raise a red flag. Depending on the nature of the job, having a misdemeanor might disqualify you from being eligible for the position.

It’s up to the discretion of the potential employer to determine if the misdemeanor is relevant to the role. Positions that require a high level of trust or responsibility may not accept candidates with any criminal record.

There are several other reasons why a misdemeanor on your criminal record is concerning. Education institutions and landlords run criminal background checks on applicants to determine eligibility. Also, if you have a misdemeanor on your record, you might not be able to legally own a firearm. This is especially true if you’ve been convicted for a misdemeanor related to domestic violence.


If you have a misdemeanor on your record, consult with a criminal defense attorney to determine your legal options for expungement or record sealing.

If you are successful in an expungement request, the conviction will be removed from your criminal record. Once it is removed, you are no longer legally required to report in the future. Keep in mind that not all criminal cases are eligible for expungement. Convictions for sexual assault, child pornography, or lewd acts with minors are typically not eligible for expungement.

A criminal defense attorney is well-versed in criminal law. After assessing your case, they can inform you of your legal options. In case there is a conviction, an attorney can guide you on sentencing options to secure the most favorable outcome for your case.

An important benefit of hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney for a misdemeanor charge or conviction is that they can investigate to uncover evidence to support your case. With their experience, they have resources that may help strengthen your case. This includes subject matter experts who can provide their testimony to support your case.

Fighting for your constitutional rights and defending against criminal charges can often be emotionally draining. Having to face a criminal record for a misdemeanor can add to the frustration. If you find yourself in such a situation, contact a reputed and expired criminal defense attorney. The legal process for defending against a misdemeanor charge can vary from one jurisdiction to another, so it’s best to work with an attorney who has local experience and has handled similar cases in the past.

Categories: Rhode Island Laws

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