Rhode Island Background Checks and Public Records

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State of Rhode Island 

The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, or more commonly known as Rhode Island, is situated on the Eastern Seaboard within the New England region of the United States. It shares water borders with Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. 

Rhode Island is home to the Tennis Hall of Fame. It has also been named by Reader’s Digest as one of the 10 Nicest Places in America.

Rhode Island, also called the Ocean State, has been heavily dependent on its fishing industry. Its economy has progressed and thrived with health services, tourism, and manufacturing as its biggest contributors. 

Rhode Island is considered to be the smallest and second-most densely populated state. Nevertheless, when conducting background checks or looking for public records, be sure to check its neighboring states as well.

Counties in Rhode Island 

  • Bristol
  • Kent
  • Newport
  • Providence
  • Washington

Where To Get Public Records In Rhode Island 

Like in most states, Rhode Island doesn’t have a central repository of its records or assigns a single custodian. However, though the officials of the respective agency are considered as the record custodians, the Attorney General has the right to intervene in record disputes.

Should you need a copy of birth certificates, marriage licenses, or death records, you have to reach out to the Department of Health. They are responsible for keeping records of significant life events. For divorce-related files, however, these are available at the town clerk where it took place. Please note that vital records are only made available to people who’re specifically cited on the reports and to legal representatives.

To obtain criminal records, you may proceed to the Bureau of Criminal Identification. They collate and keep records of a person’s encounters with the law or with the local Police Department. Reports contain one’s criminal history, including arrests, convictions, and interactions of the person you are requesting.

For inmate records, the Department of Corrections is responsible for these. They handle all inmate reports within the state’s seven prisons. In most cases, inmate records contain the inmate’s ID number, custody status, prison location, parole information, and more.

Court records are also available to the general public, and these can be accessed through the Judiciary Public Portal. It stores various documentation from all of the state’s six courts – Supreme, Superior, District, Family Court, Worker’s Compensation, and Traffic Court. Typically, reports include case files, court minutes, jury records, dockets, witness documentation, and more.

Property records can be accessed through different departments, depending on the type of information you need. The Office of the Secretary of State, for instance, keeps land records and a catalog of conveyances from 1642 to 1796. Tax records and deed records are maintained at a county level. For tax records, you have to coordinate with the Property Tax Assessor assigned in the municipality where the property is located. For deed records, some are available online while some require a personal visit to the town hall or city hall.

Accessing and Acquiring Public Records in Rhode Island 

Rhode Island’s Access to Public Records Act (APRA) is one of the major state laws that regulate the collection, maintenance, and distribution of any form of public records. 

As mandated by the law, Rhode Island’s public records access has 25 exemptions and 16 statutory exemptions. A majority of these are records that could lead to an invasion of privacy like medical records, trade secrets, financial accounts, child custody records, and more.

Since public records are managed by different government bodies, be sure to know who holds what reports. Processes may also slightly vary per agency. As a general rule, however, you don’t need to be a Rhode Islander to be able to access the state’s public records. Additionally, you should receive a response to your request within 10 business days. In rare instances, they might need to extend the search up to 30 days. You’re also allowed to appeal to the Office of Attorney General or the court should your request get denied.

Some records can be accessed online or over the phone, while others require a more formal request which could be submitted via email, mail, or in-person. Each department is allowed to charge $0.15 per photocopied page and $15.00 an hour in labor fees.

For a more convenient and faster way of obtaining such records, you may opt to utilize a reliable and trustworthy people search engine.

Rhode Island Background Check Reports

APRA also allows anyone, even non-residents, to request basic or criminal background checks in Rhode Island. To start the search, go in person to BCI at their customer service center located at 4 Howard Avenue Cranston. You could also request via mail. Regardless, in most cases, you will be required to fill out an official request form to start the process. Otherwise, you could opt to utilize third-party search engines that offer background check services.

Rhode Island background check adheres to federal laws like the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). FCRA aims to promote accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information contained in consumer reporting agencies’ files. EEOC, on the other hand, focuses on preventing discrimination against any potential employee based on their race, creed, gender, religion, or other factors. 

The state also has a ban-the-Box policy (R.I.G.L. § 28-5-7(7)) which mandates that public and private employers can only ask a potential hire about their criminal or credit history after the initial interview. 

Rhode Island Official Websites

Frequently Asked Questions About Rhode Island Background Checks

How far back does a background check go in Rhode Island?

In most cases, states adhere to the limitations mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This federal law states background checks can go as far back as 7 years. In Rhode Island, however, criminal history records of first offenders are expunged 5 years after a misdemeanor sentence completion and 10 years after a felony sentence completion. Checks could go back for less or more than 7 years.

Where can I get a background check in Rhode Island?

You may request in-person by visiting the Attorney General’s Customer Service Center which is located at 4 Howard Avenue, Cranston. You could also request via mail using their official request form. For fast results, opt to utilize a third-party search engine offering background check services like Kiwi Searches.

What shows up on a BCI?

Checks conducted by a state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) typically include personal information, fingerprints, police reports, and court records detailing all misdemeanors, violations, bad check charges, and restraining orders.

How long does a BCI last?

The validity of a state background check (BCI) relies on the person or establishment requesting. So if you’re an employee, for instance, you might have to check with your employer as to how often you might need to get an updated BCI.