Misdemeanor Guide

Rhode Island Misdemeanors

Rhode Island Misdemeanors
In the state of Rhode Island a misdemeanor is defined as an offense that is punishable by up to one year in a county jail. Normal misdemeanors include driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, domestic violence, shoplifting, second offenses of refusal to take a breathalyzer, reckless driving, vandalism, the writing of bad checks, disorderly conduct, domestic disorderly, simple assault and battery, domestic vandalism, and many others. Driving with a suspended license has different rules than other misdemeanors, as a previous offense has taken place.

Rhode Island Misdemeanor Court
During the arraignment of a misdemeanor, an individual is often advised to hire a criminal defense attorney and to plead not guilty under all circumstances. A plea of not guilty will result in different charges than if an individual had pled guilty. Four pleas exist in the state of Rhode Island and include guilty, not guilty, Alfred plea, nolo contendere. A pretrial conference follows an arraignment where a plea can be changed after meeting with the prosecutor or judge and an offer of a pending sentence is given. This sentence can be negotiated between a lawyer and the prosecutor. In order to change a plea from not guilty to guilty or nolo contendere, a deal must first be made with the prosecutor. If an agreement cannot be reached, a trial date will be set.

A nolo contendere plea is the plea of no contest. This means that an individual is essentially admitting to the charges at hand but does not want to contest the charges. A nolo contendere plea does not always constitute a criminal conviction in the state of Rhode Island, where a guilty plea will always receive a criminal conviction. This kind of plea is very advisable to take as it lowers court cost and contributed towards the victims indemnity fund. Other pleas do not contribute to this fund.

Rhode Island Expungement
Expungement is the legal process of sealing criminal files. This means that only the proper authorities will have access to the records, and the records can no longer be accessed by the general public for any reason or law enforcement agencies. Expungement allows individuals to obtain professional licenses, employment, credit, financial aid, and firearms as background checks will surface as clear. After a petition has been granted an individual will then be able to lawfully state that he or she was never convicted of the crime. However if another crime has been committed after expungement, the expunged offense will most often be used as a prior offense and will cause charges to be elevated.

Rhode Island has motioned a law that states that a first offender may file for expungement of a criminal record conviction for both felonies and misdemeanors. These are upon requests submitted to the Department of Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Identification Unit. The proper paperwork must be filed and include all the information requesting to be expunged by the court. Even as a petition for expungement has been submitted, the court may deny the petition for any reason.

See also:
Rhode Island Felony External link (opens in new window)
Rhode Island Expungement External link (opens in new window)
Rhode Island Gun Laws External link (opens in new window)