- Criminal Defense
Below you’ll find the Rhode Island Domestic Violence Prevention Act in its entirety. It’s important to understand what this act entails, but we understand that legal terms and expressions can sometimes be confusing for those without law backgrounds. If you have questions or concerns about the statements included in this act, contact the law office of John E. MacDonald domestic violence criminal defense attorney for more information:
(a) The purpose of this chapter is to recognize the importance of domestic violence as a serious crime against society and to assure victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from abuse which the law and those who enforce the law can provide.
(b) While the legislature finds that the existing criminal statutes are adequate to provide protection for victims of domestic violence, previous societal attitudes have been reflected in policies and practices of law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and courts which have resulted in differing treatment of crimes occurring between family or household members and of the same crimes occurring between strangers. Only recently has public perception of the serious consequences of domestic violence to society and to the victims led to the recognition of the necessity for early intervention by law enforcement agencies.
(c) It is the intent of the legislature that the official response to cases of domestic violence shall stress the enforcement of the laws to protect the victim and shall communicate the attitude that violent behavior is not excused or tolerated. Furthermore, it is the intent of the legislature that criminal laws be enforced without regard to whether the persons involved are or were married, cohabitating, or involved in a relationship.
(a) Any protective order issued by another jurisdiction, as defined in § 12-29-2, shall be given full faith and credit throughout the state and enforced as if it were issued in the state for as long as the order is in effect in the issuing jurisdiction.
(b) A person entitled to protection under a protective order issued by another jurisdiction may file the order in the superior court, family court, or district court by filing with the court a certified copy of the order which shall be entered into the restraining order, no contact order system (R.O.N.C.O.). The person shall swear under oath in an affidavit, to the best of the person’s knowledge, that the order is presently in effect as written. A law enforcement officer shall presume the validity of the order and enforce the order issued by another jurisdiction which has been provided to the law enforcement officer; provided, that the officer is also provided with a statement by the person protected by the order that the order remains in effect. Law enforcement officers shall rely on the statement by the person protected by the order.
Every order of this court made pursuant to chapter 8.1 of title 8, chapter 15 of title 15, and this chapter, after proper notice and hearing, shall contain the following language:
“THIS COURT HAD JURISDICTION OVER THE PARTIES AND THE SUBJECT MATTER WHEN IT ISSUED THIS PROTECTIVE ORDER. RESPONDENT WAS AFFORDED BOTH NOTICE AND OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD IN THE HEARING THAT GAVE RISE TO THIS ORDER. PURSUANT TO THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT OF 1994, 18 USC 2265, THIS ORDER IS VALID AND ENFORCEABLE IN ALL FIFTY STATES, ANY TERRITORY OR POSSESSION OF THE UNITED STATES, THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, THE COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO AND TRIBAL LANDS.”Rhode Island Courts – https://www.courts.ri.gov/PublicResources/domesticviolenceunit/PDF/PreventionAct.pdf
(a) “Domestic violence” includes, but is not limited to, any of the following crimes when committed by one family or household member against another:
(b) “Family or household member” means spouses, former spouses, adult persons related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past three (3) years, and persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together, or if persons who are or have been ina substantive dating or engagement relationship within the past one year which shall be determined by the court’s consideration of the following factors:
(c) “Protective order” means an order issued pursuant to § 15-5-19, chapter 15 of title 15, or chapter 8.1 of title 8.
(d) “Victim” means a family or household member who has been subjected to domestic violence.
(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.
(b)(1) When a law enforcement officer responds to a domestic violence situation and has probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, the officer shall exercise arrest powers pursuant to §§ 12-7-3 and 12-7-4; provided, that the officer shall arrest and take into custody the alleged perpetrator of the crime when the officer has probable cause to believe that any of the following acts has occurred:
(2) The decision to arrest and charge shall not:
(3) An arrest without warrant made under this section shall be made within twenty-four (24) hours of the alleged crime.
(4) If an arrest without warrant cannot be made pursuant to this section, the officer shall advise the victim of the right to file a criminal complaint and shall seek a warrant for arrest if there is probable cause to do so.
(c)(1) When more than one family or household member involved in a domestic violence incident states a complaint, the officer shall investigate each complaint to determine whether there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. The officer shall not dismiss the incident by presuming two-party (2) guilt.
(2) When the officer has probable cause to believe that family or household members have assaulted each other, the officer is not required to arrest both persons. The officer shall arrest the person whom the officer believes to be the primary physical aggressor.
(d) A law enforcement officer shall not be held liable for false arrest in any civil action for an arrest based on probable cause or for enforcement in good faith of a court order issued pursuant to this chapter or pursuant to § 15-5-19, chapter 15 of title 15, or chapter 8.1 of title 8.
(e) It shall be the responsibility of the law enforcement officer at the scene of a domestic violence incident to provide immediate assistance to the victim. This assistance shall include, but not be limited to:
“If you are in need of medical treatment, you have the right to have the officer present drive you to the nearest hospital or otherwise assist you.
“If you believe that police protection is needed for your physical safety, you have the right to have the officer present remain at the scene until you and your children can leave or until your safety is otherwise obtained.
“You have the right to file a criminal complaint with the responding officer or your local police department if the officer has not arrested the perpetrator.
“Married/blood relatives/children in common. If your attacker is your spouse, former spouse, person to whom you are related by blood or marriage, or if you are not married to your attacker, but have a child in common, you have the right to go to family court and ask the court to issue:
“Unmarried. If you are not married or related to your attacker, but have resided with him or her within the past three (3) years, or you or your attacker are in, or have been in, a substantive dating or engagement relationship within the past one year, you have the right to go to district court and request:
(3) Informing the victim of available services; and
(4) In cases where the officer has determined that no cause exists for an arrest, assistance shall also include:
(f) An officer responding to a domestic violence call shall complete a domestic violence report pursuant to § 12-29-8.
(g)(1) It shall be the responsibility of the attorney general to develop a model Uniform Policy for Police Response to Domestic Violence which is consistent with the provisions of this section. This written policy shall be developed after conferring with the staff of the department of human services’ domestic violence unit and with the council on domestic violence and shall be made available to any law enforcement agency.
(2) Each law enforcement agency shall develop a Policy for Police Response to Domestic Violence which is consistent with the Uniform Policy for Police Response to Domestic Violence developed by the attorney general and shall file a copy of the policy with the attorney general within sixty (60) days of receiving the model policy.
(a) Because of the likelihood of repeated violence directed at those who have been victims of domestic violence in the past, when a person is charged with or arrested for a crime involving domestic violence, that person may not be released from custody on bail or personal recognizance before arraignment without first appearing before the court or bail commissioner. The court or bail commissioner authorizing release shall issue a no-contact order prohibiting the person charged or arrested from having contact with the victim.
(2) At the time of arraignment or bail hearing the court or bail commissioner shall determine whether a no-contact order shall be issued or extended.
(3) Willful violation of a court order issued under subdivision (1), (2), or as part of disposition of this subdivision of this subsection is a misdemeanor. The written order releasing the person charged or the written order issued at the time of disposition shall contain the court’s directive and shall bear the legend: “Violation of this order is a criminal offense under this section and will subject a violator to arrest”. A copy of the order shall be provided to the victim.
(4) Whenever an order prohibiting contact is issued, modified, or terminated under subdivision (1), (2) or (3) of this subsection, the clerk of the court shall forward a copy of the order on or before the next judicial day to the appropriate law enforcement agency specified in the order.
(b) Because of the serious nature of domestic violence, the court in domestic violence actions:
(c) To facilitate compliance with the provisions of this section, the district court shall assure that the misdemeanor and felony complaint forms indicate whether the crime charged involves domestic violence and, if so, the relationship of the victim and defendant.
(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 12-10-12, the filing of any complaint for a crime involving domestic violence shall be conditioned upon the defendant keeping the peace and being of good behavior for a period of three (3) years. In the event a particular case involving domestic violence is filed on a plea of not guilty, guilty or nolo contendere pursuant to section 12-10-12, the court having jurisdiction shall retain the records of the case for a period of three (3) years from the date of the filing. These records shall not be expunged, sealed, or otherwise destroyed for a period of three (3) years from the date of filing. Furthermore, the destruction or sealing of records in the possession of the department of attorney general bureau of criminal identification, the superintendent of the state police, or the police departments of any city or town after a filing related to a crime involving domestic violence shall be governed by section 12-1-12.
In any action under this chapter, the court and the attorney general’s office shall take appropriate action to ensure a speedy trial to minimize the length of time the victim must endure the stress of involvement in the proceeding. In ruling on any motion or request for a delay or continuance of proceedings, the court shall consider any adverse impact the delay or continuance may have on the well-being of the victim. This provision establishes a right to a speedy trial to the victim and shall not be construed as creating any additional rights for, or diminishing any rights of the defendant.
(a) Every person convicted of, or placed on probation for, a crime involving domestic violence or whose case is filed pursuant to § 12-10-12 where the defendant pleads nolo contendere, in addition to any other sentence imposed or counseling ordered, shall be ordered by the judge to attend, at his or her own expense, a batterer’s intervention program appropriate to address his or her violent behavior; provided, however, that the court may permit a servicemember or veteran to complete any court-approved counseling program administered or approved by the Veterans’ Administration. This order shall be included in the conditions of probation. Failure of the defendant to comply with the order shall be a basis for violating probation and/or the provisions of § 12-10-12. This provision shall not be suspended or waived by the court.
(b) Every person convicted of, or placed on probation for, a crime involving domestic violence, as enumerated in § 12-29-2 or whose case if filed pursuant to § 12-10-12 where the defendant pleads guilty or nolo contendere, in addition to other court costs or assessments imposed, shall be ordered to pay a one hundred twenty-five dollar ($125) assessment. Eighty percent (80%) of the assessment collected pursuant to this section shall be provided to the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence for programs to assist victims of domestic violence and twenty percent (20%) of the assessment shall be deposited as general revenue.
(c)(1) Every person convicted of an offense punishable as a misdemeanor involving domestic violence as defined in § 12-29-2 shall:
(2) No jail sentence provided for under this section can be suspended.
(3) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as limiting the discretion of the judges to impose additional sanctions authorized in sentencing.
(d) For the purposes of this section, “batterers intervention program” means a program which is certified by the batterers intervention program standards oversight committee according to minimum standards, pursuant to §§ 12-29-5.1, 12-29-5.2, and 12-29-5.3.
(e) For purposes of this section, “servicemember’ means a person who is presently serving in the armed forces of the United States, including the Coast Guard, a reserve component thereof, or the National Guard. “Veteran” means a person who has served in the armed forces, including the Coast Guard of the United States, a reserve component thereof, or the National Guard, and has been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.
(f) The court shall indicate on every record of conviction or a plea of nolo contendere for an offense punishable as a felony involving domestic violence, as defined in § 12-29-2, that the defendant is prohibited under §§ 11-47-5 and 11-47-5.3 from purchasing, owning, carrying, transporting, or having in their possession, any firearm(s). The court shall inform the defendant of their prohibited status and shall order the defendant to surrender any firearm(s) in their ownership, possession, care, custody or control in accordance with § 11-47-5.3.
(g) No proceeds shall be provided to any person if the firearm(s) is destroyed pursuant to this section.
(h) Any firearm(s) used in the commission of the offense leading to the conviction pursuant to this section shall be forfeited to the state upon conviction.
(a) There is created a batterers intervention standards oversight committee, referred to in this chapter as the committee pursuant to the provisions of § 12-29-5.
(b) The committee shall meet no fewer than four (4) times per year at the call of the chairperson or upon petition of a majority of committee members.
(c) The committee shall consist of thirteen (13) members to be appointed as follows: The director of the department of corrections or his or her designee who shall serve as chairperson of the committee; the director of the Rhode Island justice commission or his or her designee; the executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence or his or her designee; a representative from the law enforcement community appointed by the chairperson of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association; the attorney general or his or her designee; the director of Justice Assistance or his or her designee; a qualified elector of this state appointed by the governor; the director of the domestic violence training and monitoring unit or his or her designee; the chief justice of the supreme court or his or her designee; the director of the department of health or his or her designee; a representative of a batterers intervention program appointed by the director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence; the chief judge of the district court or his or her designee; and the director of the Urban League of Rhode Island or his or her designee.
(d) Each member of the committee may appoint a permanent designee to attend committee meetings in his or her absence. A quorum of the committee shall consist of a majority of its members.
(a) The committee shall have the duties and responsibilities to:
(1) Establish and promulgate minimum standards for batterers intervention programs serving persons mandated pursuant to § 12-29-5, revise the standards as is deemed necessary, and make the standards available to the public, provided that the standards shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
(2) Monitor and review batterers intervention programs seeking certification with respect to compliance with the standards, including periodic on-site review;
(3) Certify those batterers intervention programs which are in compliance with the standards established pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection; and
(4) Investigate and decide appeals, complaints, requests for variances, and post-enrollment certification applications.
(b) For purposes of this chapter, “post-enrollment certification applications” means those applications made to the committee by a batterer mandated to attend a certified batterers intervention program in accordance with § 12-29-5 who has, prior to adjudication, enrolled in a program not certified by the committee. The application shall include supporting documentation from the batterers intervention program and a request that participation in the batterers intervention program be accepted in lieu of the equivalent number of hours of a certified batterers intervention program. The committee shall act upon a post-enrollment certification application within thirty (30) days of receipt of the application.
(a)The committee may establish and appoint any subcommittees, task forces, focus groups and advisory committees that it deems necessary from time to time to carry out the provisions of this chapter.
(b) The committee shall promulgate its rules of procedure governing its operations in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act, chapter 35 of title 42.
(a) The curriculum for new law enforcement officers presented at the Providence police academy, the state police academy, and the municipal police academy shall include at least eight (8) hours of training on domestic violence issues. That training shall stress the enforcement of criminal law in domestic violence cases and shall include:
(b) Each law enforcement agency shall provide four (4) hours of in-service training to its officers on issues of domestic violence. This training shall stress the enforcement of criminal law in domestic violence cases and shall include:
(c) There is established within the court system a domestic violence training and monitoring unit, whose responsibilities shall include:
(3) Development and delivery of training for medical providers concerning the requirements of this section;
(4) Development and delivery of training for probation officers in screening abusers for appropriate counseling; and
(5) Development of forms, as required in §§ 12-29-8 and 12-29-9, and development of any other assessment tools that are necessary to monitor the implementation of this chapter.
(d) The administrative office of the supreme court shall establish an ongoing training program for judges, court personnel, bail commissioners, and clerks to inform them of the policies and procedures of this chapter.
There is created the domestic violence training and monitoring unit, which shall be administered under the direction of the state court administrator.
(a) There is established within the court system a domestic abuse court advocacy project to provide the services as set forth in subsection (b) of this section. The administrator of the court system may contract with a nonprofit agency or organization which has a demonstrated record of service to victims of domestic violence for the purpose of operating the project.
(b) The responsibilities of the project shall include, but not be limited to:
(c) The project shall assure coordination with other victims services programs, shelters, and other organizations or agencies offering services to victims of domestic abuse.
(a) A law enforcement officer who responds to or investigates a domestic violence incident shall complete a domestic violence report, whether or not an arrest occurs.
(b) For the purpose of establishing accurate data on the extent and severity of domestic violence in the state and on the degree of compliance with the requirements of § 12-29-3, the domestic violence training and monitoring unit of the court system shall prescribe a form for making domestic violence reports. The form shall include, but is not limited to, the following information:
(c) Each police department shall forward copies of the reports to the unit at the end of each month.
(a) All domestic violence and sexual assault protective orders must be filed in the R.O.N.C.O. system at the attorney general’s bureau of criminal identification (B.C.1.) unit.
(b) All protective orders from district court, superior court, family court, police departments and bail commissioners must be filed upon issuance by faxing or delivering the orders to the B.C.I. unit no later than the end of the day of issuance. Orders shall include the following: the terms of the order, the date of issuance, the date of the second hearing (if any), the dates of birth of the parties, and the date of expiration.
(2) All modifications and terminations of the orders must also be faxed or delivered to the B.C.I. unit no later than the end of the day of the modification. Any protective order issued pursuant to chapter 15 of title 15, chapter 8.1 of title 8, and chapter 5 of title 15 which is terminated or expires for any reason, and any no-contact order issued by any superior court, district court or family court which is removed, rescinded or expired for any reason shall be expunged within thirty (30) days from the R.O.N.C.O. system and the prior existence of the protective order or no-contact order shall not be disclosed except by court order.
(c) A person entitled to protection under an existing protection order shall, upon request, be given a certified copy of the order by the court clerk. The attorney general’s B.C.I. unit shall accept the certified copy and enter that copy into the R.O.N.C.O. system.
(d) For purposes of this section, “protective orders” includes all family, district, and superior court restraining orders, as well as district and superior court no-contact orders.
(a) For the purpose of documenting incidents of family violence resulting in injuries treated at medical facilities or by medical providers and of providing statistically valid information on the extent of family violence, the domestic violence training and monitoring unit of the court system shall prescribe a form for making medical data collection reports. The form shall include, but is not limited to the following:
(2) The report shall not contain the name of the parties nor any other identifying information.
(b) A report shall be completed for any victim being treated for injuries which the victim states resulted from domestic violence or which the mandated medical provider has reasonable cause to believe resulted from domestic violence.
(c) The report shall be submitted to the unit on a quarterly basis for quarters ending on September 30, December 31, March 31, and June 30.
If any provision of this chapter or its application to any person or circumstances is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the chapter which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this chapter are declared to be severable.
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