Providence Rhode Island Domestic Violence Attorney

Criminal Defense Lawyer John E. MacDonald, Inc. of Providence, Rhode Island

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Experienced Rhode Island Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

Rhode Island Domestic Violence

To combat domestic violence, Rhode Island state laws governing the warrantless arrest powers of the police in domestic violence cases have been greatly expanded over the past thirty years.

Warrantless arrests In Rhode Island

Rhode Island has empowered the police to make warrantless arrests in cases of suspected domestic violence, spousal abuse, and domestic assault, which means you may have been arrested or could be facing charges for which you shouldn’t.

Therefore, you must get a qualified Providence Rhode Island Domestic Violence Defense Attorney on your case and on your side immediately. Call 401.421.1440 to schedule a free legal consultation with the experienced Rhode Island Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers at the Law Offices Of John E. MacDonald, Inc.

Everything About Domestic Violence Charges in Rhode Island

 

RECENT CASE RESULTS:

Those accused of domestic violence are often left feeling helpless and abandoned by their support systems and communities. It’s important to remember that Rhode Island domestic violence attorney John MacDonald understands the challenges you’re facing and has the legal experience to help get you through any domestic violence charges. Below you’ll find some recent domestic violence case results to showcase how the Law Office of John E. MacDonald can provide an aggressive and powerful defense to produce the best possible outcome for you:

  • criminal defense reviewsINDECENT ASSAULT & BATTERY: CASE DISMISSED Client charged in Massachusetts with indecent assault and battery on his tenant and his tenant’s daughter. Case was prepared for trial and ultimately dismissed by the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office for lack of evidence
  • criminal defense reviewsDOMESTIC ASSAULT: CASE DISMISSED Client charged with a domestic assault upon his wife. After several pre-trial conferences, the City dismissed all charges and the case was expunged from his criminal history.
  • criminal defense reviewsDOMESTIC ASSAULT: CASE DISMISSED Mother charged with a domestic assault against her son. After negotiations with the Town, the case was dismissed at the pre-trial stage and expunged from her criminal history.
  • criminal defense reviewsFIRST DEGREE SEXUAL ASSAULT: CHARGES DROPPED Client’s girlfriend made allegations of first-degree sexual assault to the Police. Working with the Police and Attorney General’s office and after investigation, the decision was made not to charge the client based upon the factual inconsistencies and contradictions in the complaint.
  • criminal defense reviewsFIRST & SECOND DEGREE SEXUAL ASSAULT: CHARGES DROPPED Client’s sister-in-law’s made accusations to the Police of first and second-degree sexual assault. Attorney MacDonald and the client met with the police and disclosed video evidence that clearly contradicted the complaint. As a result, no charges were filed by Police.
  • criminal defense reviewsDOMESTIC ASSAULT: CASE DISMISSED Client in removal proceedings based upon a 2005 conviction for a Rhode Island domestic assault. The client needed this plea vacated because he could not qualify for cancellation of removal. On May 12, 2011, both the plea and conviction were vacated based upon defects in the plea colloquy. On June 22, 2011, all criminal charges were dismissed by the City prosecutor at pre-trial and the client’s removal proceedings were terminated. This client is now eligible to pursue citizenship.
  • criminal defense reviewsDOMESTIC ASSAULT: CASE DISMISSED Kent County District Court, the client was charged with striking her boyfriend in the face during an argument. Police arrive and see injuries to the boyfriend’s face and charge her with domestic assault. The case was dismissed at the first pre-trial conference.
  • criminal defense reviewsDOMESTIC ASSAULT: CASE DISMISSED Attorney John MacDonald successfully negotiated the dismissal of his client’s domestic assault charge in Newport County District Court.
  • criminal defense reviewsDOMESTIC ASSAULT: NOT GUILTY Domestic Assault: Client was accused of domestic assault in Rhode Island. John MacDonald designed an aggressive defense strategy and convinced the jury that his client was not guilty of the domestic assault.
 

Rhode Island Domestic Violence Act

When attempting to understand Rhode Island laws regarding domestic violence, it’s important to look to the Rhode Island Domestic Violence Act. This Act is listed in its entirety below, but first, let’s focus on the role of the law enforcement officer in a domestic violence case. Rhode Island Domestic Violence Prevention Act states under section § 12-29-3 Law enforcement officers – Duties and immunity.

“(a) The primary duty of law enforcement officers when responding to a domestic violence situation is to enforce the laws allegedly violated and to protect the victim.”

Not only does this mean that a larger number of Rhode Island domestic violence arrests are made, but the consequences for those suffering from a warrantless domestic violence arrest can be undeservingly severe and harsh. If you’re facing domestic violence charges and a protective order, remember that prosecutors can be very aggressive in filing domestic violence charges. This is because of the intensely political nature of the charges, and the publicity that goes along with it. Domestic assault & violence charges have powerful advocacy and lobbying groups that challenge politicians in these cases. When someone else’s reputation is on the line, it’s you that may be unfairly penalized for a baseless domestic violence accusation. 

Therefore, you must get a qualified Rhode Island Domestic Violence Attorney on your case and on your side immediately. This will minimize the risks and damages you are facing. By hiring the best Rhode Island defense attorney, you may be able to avoid domestic violence charges as well as potentially stop the filing of restraining orders, no-contact orders, and other protective orders.

 

Rhode Island Domestic Violence Defense

Domestic violence is an unfortunate and frequent occurrence. Our firm is experienced in representing clients that have been accused of or are facing domestic violence charges in Rhode Island.

The reality of being convicted of these charges can have a huge impact on the opportunities of an individual’s future. Having a competent defense attorney is crucial to fighting against domestic violence offenses.

Criminal defense attorneys with a successful track record and extensive experience can provide you with targeted legal strategies to defend your rights. It’s a common practice in many Rhode Island domestic violence cases for the alleged victim to file for a restraining order. This functions as an official court order aimed to protect individuals from all manners of abuse including physical, verbal and even the threat of abuse.

Civil restraining orders

Civil restraining orders place more specific orders on individuals and set parameters in regards to their personal lives. A civil restraining order involves property judgments, pet orders, child custody arrangements, and more. Restraining orders may also include criminal protective orders and emergency protective orders.

Extensive Domestic Violence Defense Experience

Over the years, our law office has successfully represented individuals accused of criminal activity involving domestic violence. With our aggressive legal strategies and intense approach to criminal defense, we have fought tirelessly on their behalf resulting in favorable outcomes for many of our clients.

Ignoring Domestic Violence Charges

Don’t ignore your situation. The longer you go without qualified legal representation for your domestic violence defense, the harder it may be to build your case. We are fully equipped in assisting individuals with the criminal defense strategies their circumstance requires. Domestic violence matters are extremely serious and must be addressed immediately. If you find yourself in a questionable situation related to domestic violence, contact our Rhode Island law office as soon as possible. If you have been accused of or arrested for domestic violence-related offenses contact us to discuss your case with an experienced and trustworthy attorney.

Call the RI Domestic Violence Lawyers of the Law Offices of John E. MacDonald NOW

You can reach our domestic charges defense law firm at 401.421.1440. The Law Offices of John E. MacDonald, Inc. will be able to tell you what we can do to protect you as your Rhode Island Domestic Violence Attorney. 

 

How Rhode Island Defines Domestic Violence

Even though the current Rhode Island Domestic Violence Act can appear severe and unjustly biased towards those accused, it’s important to remember that Rhode Island is also passing legislation to make Domestic Violence laws even tougher. New crimes would be classified as acts of domestic violence under legislation passed by the Senate. The bill would make crimes such as arson, burglary, and the damage to or obstruction of a telephone a domestic violence offense. Victims of those crimes would be able to get a “no contact” order and other protection provided by the Domestic Violence Prevention Act.

The people encompassed in Domestic Violence laws have also expanded in Rhode Island. For a crime to be designated as a domestic violence offense, the victim and the defendant must be “family or household members”, which includes:

  • husband/wife/spouses or former spouses
  • adult persons related by blood or marriage
  • adult persons who are presently living together (roommates) or have lived together within the past 3 years
  • people who have a child in common
  • people who are or have been engaged, or in a significant dating relationship within the past year as determined by the court, based on length and type of relationship, time/duration of a relationship, and frequency of interaction between the two individuals

This wide definition of relationships often makes a warrantless arrest possible and could result in nightmare scenarios for family members that are accused of domestic violence. When these accusations are unjust and unwarranted, the subsequent acts of prosecutors and law enforcement officers can tear families apart. Don’t allow an undeserved inaccurate accusation to destroy your future. Contact a criminal defense attorney that specializes in domestic violence today.

If you’ve been charged or accused of a domestic violence crime, it’s important to speak with a criminal defense attorney NOW. Contact the law office of John MacDonald at 401.421.1440 to learn more about what an experienced defense attorney can do to protect your rights. 

 

Crimes and Charges Included in Rhode Island’s Domestic Violence Laws

Below is a list of crimes and charges that are included in Rhode Island’s Domestic Violence Statute. If you’ve been charged with any of the following crimes, contact our law office as soon as possible:

  • Assault & Battery
  • Kidnapping
  • Child SnatchingSexual assault
  • False imprisonment
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Trespass
  • Vandalism
  • Homicide/Murder
  • Violations of a Protective Order / Restraining Order / No Contact Order RONCO)
  • Arson (proposed)
  • Burglary (proposed)
  • Damage to or obstruction of a telephone (proposed)
  • Assault – RI Laws & Penalties
 

Penalties of Domestic Assault in Rhode Island

In addition to charges under the specific criminal acts above, such as domestic assault, if you are found guilty of domestic violence in Rhode Island you will face other automatic penalties:

  • First Offense Domestic Violence: you will be required to attend a batterer’s intervention program, and face additional assessment fees.
  • Second Offense Domestic Violence : domestic violence conviction carries with it a minimum of 10 days in jail, and a maximum of up to 1 year.
  • Third Offense Domestic Violence: domestic violence conviction carries with it a minimum of 1-10 years in prison.

Remember that the sooner you engage with a criminal defense attorney, the better your chances are at avoiding these penalties for domestic violence in Rhode Island.

Call the Law Offices of John MacDonald NOW at 401.421.1440 and The Law Offices of John E. MacDonald, Inc. will be able to tell you what we can do to protect and defend your rights as your RI Domestic Violence Defense lawyers.

The Law Firm of John E. MacDonald, Esquire is ready to give YOUR domestic violence case the attention it deserves.

 

What to Expect if You Are Accused of Domestic Violence

The Rhode Island Domestic Violence Act states that “the primary duty of law enforcement officers when responding to a domestic violence situation is to enforce the laws allegedly violated and to protect the victim.”

And while domestic violence is an unfortunate and frequent occurrence, the result of this law is that a larger number of warrantless arrests are made by police. In addition, the consequences for those suffering from a domestic violence arrest can be more severe than deserved. This is why it’s critical to contact a criminal defense attorney that specializes in domestic violence immediately after an arrest. 

Here is what you can expect if you are ever arrested on domestic violence charges.

The Police Arrive On the Scene

When the police arrive at the scene, the officers are trained to separate the parties and witnesses, interview them, and determine if probable cause exists in order to charge anyone with a crime.

If the police find any probable cause that a domestic violence crime was committed, they will generally make an arrest at the scene. If police find probable cause that both individuals involved in the domestic dispute committed a crime, they will generally arrest the person they consider to be the primary aggressor.

If you talk to the police during the on-scene interview without a lawyer present, you do so at your own peril. Keep in mind that you may open yourself up to criminal charges based upon your statements. Any words exchanged between you and a police officer can be used against you in court. Even in situations where you were defending yourself can result in a domestic violence charge. Actions taken in self-defense, for instance, pushing or hitting back, do not eliminate probable cause that the crime of domestic assault was committed.

In other words, it’s generally wise to remain silent when police question you in these circumstances. Your words will not save you from being charged and will only be used against you. Don’t speak to police officers, neighbors, or anyone involved in the domestic violence dispute. Contact a criminal defense lawyer before providing any details or participating in an interview with law enforcement. 

Act Quickly

Get a lawyer who specializes in domestic violence on your side as quickly as possible. Decisions as to how to proceed in your case need to be made fast. Important decisions, such as collecting potentially helpful evidence – emails, text messages, etc., interviewing witnesses, or starting a dialogue with police or prosecutors, can have a major impact on your case and should be trusted to an experienced defense attorney.

This will minimize the risks and damages you are facing and may help you to avoid domestic violence charges as well as potentially stop the filing of restraining orders, no-contact orders, and other protective orders that will radically alter your everyday life.

Being Charged

You will face domestic violence charges and likely a no-contact order. Even if the party who is given the protection of a no-contact order doesn’t want one, an order barring contact will be issued.

Once in place, no contact orders are extremely difficult to lift or even modify in Rhode Island. A violation of the no-contact order will put a defendant at risk for being arrested on a new charge and presented and possibly held without bail as a bail violator.

Prosecutors can be very aggressive in filing domestic violence charges in Rhode Island due to the intensely political nature of the charges – and the publicity that goes along with it. Domestic violence offenses have powerful advocacy and lobbying groups that challenge government officials to strengthen these laws with increased penalties. When someone else’s reputation is on the line, it’s you that may be unfairly penalized for a baseless domestic violence accusation.

Civil restraining orders may also be issued out of the District or Family court and place more specific orders, which will set parameters in regards to your personal life.

A civil restraining order involves property judgments, pet orders, child custody arrangements, and more. Restraining orders may also include criminal protective orders and emergency protective orders. The violation of a civil restraining may result in the filing of criminal charges.

IMPACT ON DAILY LIFE

A conviction for a crime of domestic violence will have devastating and long-term consequences upon your daily life.

A conviction will require 26 weeks of court-approved domestic violence counseling, the issuance of a continued no-contact order, and potential jeopardy for any alleged violation of probation (that is, jail). In addition, one’s ability to own or possess weapons will be directly impacted by a conviction.

Second or third offenses for crimes of domestic violence carry with them mandatory jail sentences.

False Accusations Are Common

If you ran up to a police officer right now and made a report of a crime that didn’t happen, you would receive criminal charges. However, with domestic abuse charges, this is not the case.

Courts never charge the accuser in a false domestic abuse case. The reason being is that they want everyone to feel comfortable enough with the legal system to come forward in actual cases of abuse. Giving a victim any additional reasons to not speak up could cause harm to more people than the good that could come from prosecuting someone.

However, there are, on average, 700,000 false charges of domestic violence each year in the U.S. False allegations of domestic violence occur at a high frequency in divorce proceedings. In fact, 25% of all divorces include allegations of domestic violence. Some people even use this type of tactic as a tool in child custody battles.

Again, the critical necessity of hiring a criminal defense attorney as soon as you’ve been accused of domestic violence cannot be overstated.

Posting Bail

In Rhode Island, bail may be posted with cash or credit in the amount of 10% of the total bail. In other words, a $10,000 “with surety” bail may be posted with $1000. This money is returned at the conclusion of the case, less any court costs.

You may also post equity in property so long as you have the documents to prove you have $10,000 worth of equity and the Attorney General’s office agrees and signs on.

Finally, you may post bail with a bondsman. A bondsman will charge you 5% of the total bail (in the example above, $500 to post a $10,000 bail). The difference is, the bondsman keeps the money as his fee to post his property as surety.

Charging

All misdemeanor and felony cases are brought to the District Court in the form of a criminal complaint.

If a felony is charged, the Attorney General has six months to formally charge you in Superior Court by filing a Criminal Information. A Criminal Information is a package prepared by the Attorney General setting up the charge or charges and it includes the police reports and witness statements in support of this charge.

Pre-Trial

After the arraignment, the pre-trial process begins with mutual requests for discovery. Your attorney must formally request in writing copies of all evidence that the state used to charge you and all evidence it plans to use at trial to convict you.

The pre-trial process for misdemeanors can take two to six weeks. For felony charges, the process is much longer, lasting anywhere from six to twenty-four months depending upon the complexity of the case.

Plea Bargain

If a plea agreement is reached between your attorney, the prosecutor, and the judge, you will appear before the court to formally change your plea from not guilty to nolo contendere. In Rhode Island, a nolo plea is essentially a plea of guilty since you are admitting to the facts forming the basis of the charges.

The Trial

A trial in the District Court for misdemeanor charges of domestic violence takes place before a judge. Any adverse finding may be appealed to the Superior Court where a defendant is entitled to a jury trial on the same charge(s).

Felony trials in Superior Court generally start with pre-trial motions in limine, to limit the evidence each side expects to show the jury. This is followed by jury selection. During the jury selection process, each side has the ability to strike jurors that appear to be biased against their side.

Once a jury is selected and sworn in, each side has the opportunity to present opening arguments. An opening is a road map of the case, pointing out what evidence each side intends to present to prove their case.

After opening statements, the state presents its witnesses in the form of direct examination, and defense counsel has the opportunity to cross-examine them.

After the state finishes its case, defense counsel may move for a judgment of acquittal on the basis that the evidence fails to prove the charge(s). If denied, defense counsel may present its own witnesses or rest.

If defense witnesses are presented, the state may cross-examine them and present rebuttal witnesses – or witnesses called to rebut or refute what the defense witnesses testified to.

After all of the evidence is presented, each side gets to present closing arguments to the jury, starting with defense counsel. Once closing arguments are completed, the judge will instruct the jury as to the applicable law and then select 12 jurors to deliberate. Any criminal verdict must be unanimous.

 

What to Do if You’ve Been Accused of Domestic Violence in Rhode Island

If you or your loved one has been accused of domestic violence, the two most important things that need to be done are:

  • Do not talk to anyone – police, family, friends, the accuser, or their family.
  • Contact a highly-qualified defense attorney who specializes in domestic violence cases as soon as possible.
 

Frequently Asked Questions About Domestic Violence Cases

We understand that being charged with a domestic violence crime can lead to a lot of confusion. That’s why our law office composed this list of frequently asked questions regarding domestic violence in Rhode Island so our clients can gain a better understanding of the law, penalties, and other details involved with domestic violence.

What is considered domestic abuse in Rhode Island?

There are various crimes listed under the Rhode Island Domestic Violence Act that qualify as “abuse”. Many people assume that a domestic violence crime will only include an act of physical violence or abuse, such as assault and battery. However, the list of acts considered as abuse under the Rhode Island Domestic Violence Act varies widely from disorderly conduct to burglary. Rhode Island considers the following as domestic abuse:

  • Assault & Battery
  • Kidnapping
  • Child Snatching / Sexual assault
  • False imprisonment
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Trespass
  • Vandalism
  • Homicide / Murder
  • Violations of a Protective Order / Restraining Order / No Contact Order RONCO)
  • Arson (proposed)
  • Burglary (proposed)
  • Damage to or obstruction of a telephone (proposed)
  • Assault – RI Laws & Penalties

If you were charged with one of the crimes listed above under the umbrella of a domestic violence charge, it’s important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Contact domestic violence defense attorney John E. MacDonald today to learn more about what constitutes domestic violence in Rhode Island.

What are some penalties for domestic violence in Rhode Island?

The penalties for a domestic violence conviction can range from required attendance at a batterer’s intervention program to jail time to expensive fees. More specifically, here are the penalties for domestic violence in Rhode Island listed by counts of offense: 

  • 1st Offense Domestic Violence: you will be required to attend a batterer’s intervention program, and face additional assessment fees.
  • 2nd Offense Domestic Violence: domestic violence conviction carries with it a minimum of 10 days in jail, and a maximum of up to 1 year.
  • 3rd Offense Domestic Violence: domestic violence conviction carries with it a minimum of 1-10 years in prison.

Remember that only a domestic violence attorney can help you avoid the maximum penalties and produce the best possible outcomes. Contact RI Defense Attorney John E. MacDonald today to receive the most aggressive legal representation for your domestic violence charge.

How will a domestic violence conviction affect you?

Having a domestic violence charge on your record can negatively affect you in various ways and be detrimental to your goals and your future. A domestic violence conviction can prevent you from applying to jobs, getting a loan or a mortgage, applying for college, purchasing a firearm, or even attending events at your child’s school or daycare. Needless to say, a domestic violence conviction presents many obstacles for those accused and convicted. This is why it’s vital to work with a criminal defense lawyer that specializes in domestic violence cases. If you’d like to avoid these negative repercussions of a domestic violence conviction, hiring the best Rhode Island domestic violence attorney is your first step. 

How do you defend a Rhode Island domestic violence charge?

The process of defending a Rhode Island domestic violence charge begins at the moment of an arrest. When you contact our law office, we begin a thorough investigation and assessment of your charges, the police report, the witnesses involved, the claims against you, and any other details involved in your case. We understand that domestic violence incidents are often overwhelming, emotionally charged, and stressful for those involved. When the dust settles, your domestic violence attorney will be able to approach your case from an objective perspective to identify any holes in the witness testimony, errors made by law enforcement, or issues with the charges addressed by the court. Then, your lawyer will design a defense strategy that is unique and specific to the details of your case. We approach every domestic violence charge with clarity and a fresh legal perspective while other law firms treat most of their domestic violence cases the same. We provide the most aggressive defense for those charged with domestic violence in Rhode Island. Contact our law office today to discuss your case and learn more about our defense strategies.

Who can be charged under the Rhode Island Domestic Violence Act?

While many believe that only spouses, partners, or immediate family members classify as domestic relationships in Rhode Island, the law extends to relationships beyond that. For a crime to be designated as a domestic violence offense, the victim and the defendant must be “family or household members”, which includes:

  • husband/wife/spouses or former spouses
  • adult persons related by blood or marriage
  • adult persons who are presently living together (roommates) or have lived together within the past 3 years
  • people who have a child in common
  • people who are or have been engaged, or in a significant dating relationship within the past year as determined by the court, based on length and type of relationship, time/duration of a relationship, and frequency of interaction between the two individuals

Remember that this wide definition of relationships often makes a warrantless arrest possible and could result in nightmare scenarios for family members that are accused of domestic violence. When these accusations are unjust and unwarranted, the subsequent acts of prosecutors and law enforcement officers can tear families apart. Don’t allow an undeserved inaccurate accusation to destroy your future. Contact a criminal defense attorney that specializes in domestic violence today.

How much does a domestic violence lawyer cost?

The cost of hiring a domestic violence attorney will depend on many different factors, including the severity of your charges and if this was your first offense. It’s common for clients to be concerned about the cost of hiring a domestic violence lawyer. When considering this expense, it’s also important to consider the consequences, the maximum penalties, and how a domestic violence conviction can destroy your future and tear apart your family. When your life, your rights, and your freedom is on the line, it’s highly recommended to hire the best attorney that can produce the best outcomes, no matter the cost. 

To learn more about how much it would cost to hire a criminal defense attorney that specializes in domestic violence, contact our law office today. 

How do you choose a domestic violence lawyer?

Choosing the right domestic violence lawyer is the most important thing to do after being charged. It’s never recommended to hire just any lawyer from any law firm that handles criminal cases. It’s incredibly important to contact a Rhode Island criminal defense attorney with an extensive background in domestic violence law. When you’re looking for the best Rhode Island domestic violence attorney, be sure to ask for examples of results. Some Rhode Island law firms will claim that they have experience in domestic violence laws and penalties, but knowing the law and having years of experience defending domestic violence charges are two different things. You want a lawyer with both — knowledge of the domestic violence law as well as experience defending those accused. 

To work with the best domestic violence lawyer in Rhode Island, call the law office of John E. MacDonald today. After a comprehensive consultation, you’ll understand why we’re the most aggressive legal representation you can hire to handle your domestic violence charges. Don’t wait until the last minute to hire a defense attorney. The sooner your lawyer has an opportunity to review your case, the more likely it is to avoid maximum penalties and gain the best results. Call our law office today to speak with a Rhode Island domestic violence attorney.

What is the Rhode Island Domestic Violence Act?

The Rhode Island Domestic Violence Prevention Act’s purpose is to ensure domestic violence victims will have maximum protection. To view the Rhode Island Domestic Violence Prevention Act in it’s entirety go to Rhode Island Domestic Violence Prevention Act.

Rhode Island Domestic Violence Attorney John E. MacDonald

The Rhode Island Criminal Defense Lawyers at the Law Office Of John E. MacDonald, Inc. are available 24 Hours to take your domestic violence case. Don’t leave your future to chance, contact our Rhode Island Domestic Violence Defense Law Firm today.

Your or your loved one’s future will depend on your ability to remain calm and make the right decisions. Contact our law office today.

Rhode Island Domestic Violence Attorney Office

Rhode Island Domestic Violence Attorney

Criminal Defense Attorney John E. MacDonald

1 Turks Head Pl #1440
Providence , RI
02903

Phone: 401.421.1440