Your Providence Criminal Case: The Basics
You've made a stupid mistake and now you're paying the consequences. You were in the grocery store and made a split second decision to steal that expensive bottle of Cognac. You ran out of the front door, straight down Thayer Street and tripped on your own shoelaces. The loss prevention officer caught up with you and called the Providence Police. Looks like the store is pressing charges. What now?
Since arrests occur in so many different situations, it is difficult to predict exactly what will happen. This article provides general information about what to expect from the criminal justice system in most cases when someone is arrested and charged with a criminal case in "Providence."
Getting Arrested in Providence
Your arrest marks the beginning of your entrance into criminal justice system in "the Beehive of Industry." (We aren't sure why Providence has that nickname, either). You'll have contact with either:
Despite what you may have seen on television or in the movies, there are several rules that the police must follow. Why? Because you have a set of criminal rights, even if you commit a crime. If they don't, it could jeopardize the prosecutor's case against you.
The most common rule the police should follow is to read you Miranda rights. You know the words. "You have the right to remain silent." Then, the police have two options: take you to jail for booking or release you with a promise to appear at a later date.
If you want to go home, you'll either be released on your own recognizance or you'll have to post bail. Bail is money that you have to pay to the courts in order to be released from jail pending trial. You usually have to put up 10% of the total amount of bail the judge sets in your case in order to get out.
Many people use a bail bondsman. When calling a bail bonds, it's best to have the following information handy:
- Defendant's Full Name
- Prior Arrest information
- Defendant's Date of Birth
- Bond Amount
Providence Criminal Defense Attorneys
If this is your first or fifth time in a Providence County courthouse, it's normal to feel intimidated. The judge will officially read the charges against you and may readjust your bail. Having a lawyer guide you through the system may help. You can option of hiring a private criminal defense attorney, representing yourself, or asking for a public defender.
The Rhode Island Penal Code
Criminal laws for the city Providence are found in the Rhode Island Penal Code. Go ahead and take a look. There's a misdemeanor or felony law against just about everything from arson to fire hydrant tampering. Let's explore some of the highlights.
Rhode Island Statute of Limitations
The prosecutor has a set time limit to charge you with a criminal offense. If they don't bring a case within the specified time period, they lose the right to prosecute for that crime against you forever. For felonies the time limit ranges from 3 (three) to 10 (ten) years depending on the crime. The following felonies have no time limit:
- Any crime that carries a maximum of life in prison,
- Treason against the state,
- Burglary, Counterfeiting, Forgery,
- Rape, First Degree Sexual Assault,
- Child Molestation,
- Sexual Assault,
- Manufacturing, Selling, Distribution or Possession with Intent to Manufacture, Sell or Distribute Drugs
Misdemeanors Sentences in Rhode Island
Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, but take know that a conviction or guilty plea can have consequences on your career, your educational opportunities, and your freedom. If you are a non-citizen, a misdemeanor can impact your immigration status.
There are two classes of misdemeanors in Rhode Island --
Regular Misdemeanors: Jail from Six Months to One Year, Fine from $500-$1000
Petty Misdemeanors: Jail Up to Six Months, Fine Up to $500
Some crimes carry additional penalties such mandatory counseling or substance abuse classes, probation, a fine, or some combination. Sometimes restitution is ordered as well.
Common Rhode Island misdemeanors include driving while intoxicated, stealing, assault and/or battery, resisting arrest and certain traffic offenses such a hit-and-run.
Felony Sentences in Rhode Island
Felonies are serious crimes that carry huge penalties including years of prison time, large fines, and major repercussions for your life outside of prison. Rhode Island felonies include murder, rape, robbery, burglary, and arson, but also include breaking and entering, forgery, and stealing property worth more than $500.
Many states categorize felonies into separate classes of crimes such a Class A, B, or C. Rhode Island does not.
A felony is any offense punishable by a fine of more than $1,000 fine or imprisonment for more than one year. As is true of misdemeanors, the sentence may consist of jail, probation, a fine, or any combination. Although a felony is the most serious type of crime a person can commit, there are lots of different felonies and some are more serious than others.
A Final Word on Providence Criminal Cases
Criminal cases can have a serious, lasting impact on your life. You have options and rights. If the State does not have sufficient evidence to prove that you committed an offense, you may be entitled to a dismissal or a reduction in your charge. Similarly, if the State violated your civil rights during the investigation or prosecution of your case, a judge may suppress certain evidence, meaning the State can't use the evidence against you at trial. Anyone charged with an offense may want to at least consider consulting a skilled attorney.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.