Rhode Island Domestic Violence Attorney
Domestic Violence in Rhode Island
Intimate relationships can turn sour. If they do, affection might turn into resentment, hate, or even physical violence. Marriages that descend into separation and divorce are famous for prompting violence and threats. The concept of domestic violence is not limited to marriages, however. Even living in close quarters can provoke extreme behavior between the cohabitants.
Unfortunately, even physical separation of the people doesn’t always deescalate the problem, and the media is full of reports of people assaulting, stalking or terrorizing others with whom they previously had close relationships. Domestic violence has taken center stage in our society. These cases now tend to be pursued with great resolve by prosecutors. The police reports that prosecutors use to evaluate and build cases come from officers whose primary duty in responding to domestic violence calls is, by statute, to protect the victim. If you have questions about a domestic violence case, our Rhode Island domestic violence defense lawyer can help.
Domestic violence of all types is sadly common. In 2013, Rhode Island reported:
- 7,903 police calls involving domestic violence
- Almost 3,000 Rhode Islanders obtained restraining orders
- Almost 600 people (adults and children) spent time in shelters or safe homes
Domestic violence cases can be extremely destructive. The mental and emotional toll is tremendous, especially if there are children involved. If physical violence is involved, it’s even worse. In the most extreme cases, one person ends up seriously hurt or dead, the other ends up in prison, and any children are virtual orphans.
Rhode Island Law on Domestic Violence
Rhode Island law specifies a list of 16 crimes that could amount to domestic violence. Among them are:
- Simple assault, felony assault and domestic assault by strangulation
- Sexual assault
- Cyber stalking and cyber harassment
- Trespass, burglary, unlawful entry and arson
- Violation of protective or no contact orders
The statute states that domestic violence isn’t limited to these offenses, leaving the door open to claims that other offenses may also qualify as domestic violence.
These crimes become domestic violence crimes when committed by one member of a family or household against another member of that family or household. Relationships deemed by law to be included in the category of “family or household” include:
- Spouses (current or former)
- Adults who are related (whether by blood or by marriage)
- Adults who currently reside in the same home, or who did during the preceding three years
- People who have had a child together, even if they have never been married or even lived together
- People who currently are, or have in the past year, been engaged or involved in a “substantive” dating relationship
The punishment is an increase in the sentence for the underlying crime.
What Happens Following a Domestic Assault Charge?
At the time of your arrest, you will be given a court date and also a copy of a no contact order. The no contact order is exactly that, you CANNOT contact in any way that person. If you do, you will be subject to a new charge and bail can be revoked.
It’s important that you contact an attorney to represent you for these charges. Especially if you did not commit a crime and/or the complaining witness does not want to proceed on the charges.
At your first court appearance, your arraignment, you should enter a plea of not guilty. The judge will most likely continue the no contact order unless the complaining witness appears and requests that a no contact order is not needed.
The Court will give you a date for a pre trial conference where you would go back to court and your attorney will speak with the prosecutor and try to get the case dismissed.
By law, the police are mandated to arrest any person that they have probable cause to believe has committed domestic violence consisting of:
- Felony assault
- Any other assault which caused bodily injury (regardless of whether the injury is observable)
- Any other physical act that was intended make the victim feel in danger of receiving bodily injury
- Violation of any protective order
The fact that probable cause is all that is required to justify the arrest means that the police have tremendous leeway in deciding when to arrest. They can arrest a defendant even when the victim does not want the person arrested.
The arrest can be made without a warrant if it is within 24 hours of when the crime occurred; after that a warrant is required.
Don’t hesitate to set up a meeting with our Defense Lawyer
The Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy, can help you or a loved one fight your domestic violence charges. Take advantage of the free consultation and call our Rhode Island office today to learn about your rights and about the legal system so that you can make an informed decision about what to do. Attorney, Stefanie Murphy has successfully handled domestic assault and battery charges throughout Rhode Island and has been successful in getting the charges dismissed at the pre-trial stage. Stefanie is also willing to go to trial and fight for her clients.
Victims of domestic assault/battery, harassment and anyone who is in fear of another (with a domestic relationship) can apply for a temporary restraining order from the District Court. The victim will file a complaint/affidavit with the Court. A judge will review the affidavit and decide whether a temporary order is needed. If so, the temporary order will remain in affect for ten (10) days and a hearing date will be scheduled. In the meantime, the defendant will be served and will be given a copy of the order and a notice of the Court date.
Rhode Island offers several types of protective orders (also known as restraining orders) to keep potentially dangerous people away from those they may harm, harass or stalk. They may be emergency orders, issued before a hearing, or temporary or permanent orders issued after a hearing.
When someone is arrested on a domestic violence charge, it’s mandatory that the defendant appear in court before being released, and that the judge issue a protective order that prohibits the defendant from contacting the alleged victim.
Contact a Rhode Island Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of domestic violence, you need the help of an experienced Rhode Island domestic violence attorney. Criminal defense attorney, Stefanie A. Murphy, knows that there are usually two sides to these stories, and she makes sure that the defendant’s rights aren’t violated. We understand that there are many situations in which these claims serve as leverage for the victim, and how emotions tend to boil over on both sides.
Conviction of a domestic violence charge not only is likely to cost you your freedom, it comes with a stigma that may affect the rest of your life. Get the experienced help you need by calling the Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy to arrange a free consultation.