Criminal Law in Rhode Island
If you or a loved one have been questioned in or arrested for a Rhode Island crime, you are likely scared, stressed, and worried about your future – all with good reason. After all, your family, future, finances, and freedom are all at stake.
You may be separated from your family, lose your job, be unable to support your family, and be unable to rent a home.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to move forward, this article was written for you.
In this article, which is Rhode Island specific, we’ll discuss:
- Rhode Island criminal laws;
- What you need to know about criminal defense in Rhode Island; and
- How to work with your Rhode Island criminal defense attorney.
Rhode Island Criminal Laws
Criminal law seeks to protect individuals and the general public from injury. Laws are written to provide notice of what constitutes a crime as well as to serve both as a deterrent and as a punishment.
Rhode Island criminal laws are found in the Rhode Island Criminal Code, which is Title 11 of the Rhode Island General Laws. You can find out more about the crime you’re charged with by clicking on the link.
In addition, ask your criminal defense attorney to fully explain the crime you’ve been charged with.
- There are manycrimes listed in the Rhode Island Criminal Code, including elder abuse, gun control crimes, forgery, child abuse, domestic abuse, assault, drunk driving, disorderly conduct, murder, drug possession, selling drugs in a school zone, robbery, embezzlement, receiving stolen property, burglary, arson, stalking, theft by deception, and shoplifting.
Statute of Limitations
Some criminal charges must be brought within a certain period of time or be forever barred. This time limit is called a “statute of limitations”. In Rhode Island, the most serious crimes do not have a time limit.
Here are examples of Rhode Island statute of limitations:
- Assault and Battery is 3 years (R.I. Gen. Laws В§ 12-12-17(c)).
- Murder, rape, burglary, and rape have no time limit for filing charges (R.I. Gen. Laws В§ 12-12-17(a)).
- Theft is 3 or 6 years, depending on the facts of the case (R.I. Gen. Laws В§ 12-12-17(b) or (c)).
Punishment such as fines, restitution, probation, community service, education, and counseling, rehabilitation, and jail are used to deter future criminal behavior, provide restitution, and protect society.
Rhode Island does not have the death penalty; it was abolished in 1984 and no one has been put to death in Rhode Island since 1930. However,the state does have life sentences without the possibility of parole.
- Rhode Islandhas sentencing guidelines that provide standard sentences. The goal of the guidelines is to apply the law uniformly.
- In choosing the appropriate penalty, within the sentencing guidelines, judges take into consideration previous criminal history as well as aggravatingor mitigating circumstances.
- If the crime was violent or involved children or weapons, the sentence will be more harsh than if not present. (Aggravating factor.)
- Criminal penalties are increased if you have a criminal history.(Aggravating factor.)
- Criminal penalties will be reduced if you committed the crime under duress. (Mitigating factor).
Your New Hampshire criminal defense attorney will be able to provide specifics about the sentence you are facing.
What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense
If you are being questioned about or have been arrested for a crime in Rhode Island, this is what you need to know:
- You need a qualified Rhode Islandcriminal defense lawyer, immediately. The sooner, the better.
- You need to be completely honest and open with your attorney. Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it.
- Do not make a statement to police, other than to ask for an attorney.
How to Work with a Rhode Island Criminal Defense Lawyer
You must help your criminal defense attorney defend you. Criminal defense is a team sport.
If you are being questioned about or have been arrested for a crime in Rhode Island, this is what you need to do:
- Once you make the hiring decision, have confidence in your attorney and take his or her advice. Legal advice is what you’re paying for. Take it. Always.
- Tell your defense attorney exactly what happened. You need to be completely honest and open with your attorney. Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it.
- Return all law firm correspondence or phone calls promptly.
- Provide all requested information in a timely manner.
- Stay in contact with your attorney. Make sure the criminal defense office always has your current address and phone number.
- Know that it is in your best interest for your attorney to question you; perhaps even challenge you.
- Know that it is in your best interest for your attorney to be polite and cooperative with the alleged victim, witnesses, police officers, investigators, the district attorney, and the judge.
Bottom Line: If you have been questioned in or arrested for a crime in Rhode Island, get good legal help, immediately.
- You need individualized advice and aggressive representation.
- Your attorney will also be able to advise your family as to how to post bail and best support you.
To find a Rhode Island criminal defense attorney, search our site, www.attorneys.org, or ask the bar association or friends for referrals.