Providence Rhode Island Domestic Violence Attorney

RI Domestic Violence Attorney

Rhode Island Domestic ViolenceIn an effort 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. 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, it is crucial that you get a qualified Providence Rhode Island Domestic Violence Attorney on your case and on your side immediately.

Call Rhode Island Domestic Violence Attorney John MacDonald today 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 today.

RI Domestic Violence Act

Rhode Island Domestic Violence 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 arrests are made but the consequences for those suffering for a warrantless domestic violence arrest can be more severe then deserved. You will face domestic violence charges and likely a protective order. Prosecutors can be very aggressive in filing domestic violence charges due to the intensely political nature of the charges, and publicity that goes along with it. Domestic assault & violence charges have powerful advocacy and lobbying groups that challenge politicians in these cases.

Therefore, it is crucial that you get a qualified Rhode Island Domestic Violence Attorney on your case and on your side immediately. This will minimize the risks and damage you are facing and 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

Domestic violenceis an unfortunate and frequent occurrence. Our firm is experienced in representing clients that have been accused of or are facing domestic violence charges. 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 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.
Over the years, our office has successfully represented individuals accused of criminal activity. 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.

Don’t ignore your situation. The longer you go without qualified legal representation for your 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 office as soon as possible. If you have been accused of or arrested for domestic violence related offenses call (401) 421-1440 to discuss your case with our experienced attorneys.

RECENT CASE RESULTS:

  • 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
  • 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.
  • Mother charged with a domestic assault against her son. After negotiations with the Town, case dismissed at the pre-trial stage and expunged from her criminal history.
  • Client’s girlfriend made allegations of first degree sexual assault to Police. Working with the Police and Attorney General’s office and after investigation, the decision was made not to charge client based upon the factual inconsistencies and contradictions in the complaint.
  • Client’s sister-in-law’s made accusations to the Police of first and second degree sexual assault. Attorney MacDonald and client met with the police and disclosed video evidence that clearly contradicted the complaint. As a result, no charges were filed by Police.
  • Client in removal proceedings based upon a 2005 conviction for a Rhode Island domestic assault. 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. Client is now eligible to pursue citizenship.
  • Kent County District Court, 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. Case was dismissed at the first pre-trial conference.
  • Attorney John MacDonald successfully negotiated the dismissal of his client’s domestic assault charge in Newport County District Court.
  • Domestic Assault: Not guilty after jury trial.

 

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 you as your Rhode Island Domestic Violence Attorneys.

Rhode Island also is 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 that is encompassed by Domestic Violence laws has also expanded. 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 relationship, and frequency of interaction between the two individuals

 

This wide definition of relationships often makes a warrantless arrest possible and could begin a nightmare for family members and those charged.

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.

Crimes and Charges Included in the Rhode Island’s Domestic Violence Statutes include:

  • 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

 

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: you will be required to attend a batterer’s intervention program, and face additional assessment fees.
  • Second Offense: 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 conviction carries with it a minimum of 1-10 years in prison.

 

THE SOONER YOU ENGAGE AN ATTORNEY
THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES TO AVOID THESE PENALTIES!

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.

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

The Police Arrive On the Scene

Police officers are trained to separate the parties and witnesses, interview them, and determine if probable cause exists to charge anyone with a crime.

If the police find any probable cause that a 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.

Remember, if you talk to the police during the on-scene interview without a lawyer present, you do so at your own peril and may open yourself up to criminal charges based upon your statements. Actions taken in selfdefense, i.e. hitting back, do not eliminate probable cause that the crime of 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.

Act Quickly

Get a lawyer on your side quickly. Decisions as to how to proceed in your case need to be made fast. 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 attorney.

This will minimize the risks and damage 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. 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 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.

Civil restraining orders may also be issued out of the District or Family courts and place more specific orders that 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 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 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 their 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 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.

In Summary

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 about this – police, family, friends, the accuser or their family
  • Contact a highly-qualified defense attorney who specializes in cases like yours

Your or your loved one’s future hinges on your being calm and making the right decisions.