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Rhode Island Court Records

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What Do You Do if You Are On Trial For a Crime in Rhode Island?

Persons arrested for a crime in Rhode Island are advised to contact a criminal defense attorney. If the alleged offender cannot afford legal counsel, the court is obligated to appoint an attorney to serve as their legal counsel. Accused persons must provide the court with accurate and current information when required at the arraignment and ensure all mailings are received throughout the legal process. Apprehended individuals must decide on what plea to enter at the arraignment with the counsel of an attorney.

During the trial, all parties are required to obey court rules and procedures laid down by the Rhode Island Judicial System. Also, no form of disruption should be perpetrated by the defendant or associates during the court proceedings.

What Percentage of Criminal Cases go to Trial in Rhode Island?

The 2018 annual report from the Rhode Island Judiciary outlines all criminal cases that occurred within the year. The total number of criminal cases filed in the district courts was 24,105. Felony charges were 7263, while misdemeanor cases totaled 16,842. Disposed cases were 22,340. The percentage of lawsuits filed to cases disposed of is 92.68%.

In Superior Courts, the total number of criminal cases filed was 6,024, with 5,590 felony charges and 429 legal actions on misdemeanors. The percentage of lawsuits filed to cases disposed of was 88.83%n in that year.

When Does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?

Persons accused of a crime in Hawaii have the right to trial and will be tried by a jury under Article 1 Section 10 of the Rhode Island Constitution. With the court’s permission, the defendant may choose to waive the right to a jury trial. If the defendant waives the jury trial, the case will be presided over by a judge who will render judgment.

What Are the Stages of a Criminal Trial in Rhode Island?

The stages of a criminal trial in Rhode Island for a misdemeanor or felony are the same. If the defendant waives the right to a jury trial, the jury selection and jury deliberation will not be a part of the criminal trial. Instead, a judge renders judgment and passes sentence. Typically, steps involved in criminal court proceedings are;

  • Jury selection: The jury for a criminal case in Rhode Island consists of 14 persons, with two being alternates.
  • Opening statements: Each party on either side of the case is allowed to make an initial statement, which outlines either party’s claim on the defendant’s guilt or innocence.
  • Presentation of witnesses and evidence: The prosecution is the first to call on witnesses and present evidence. The prosecution asks questions of his witnesses in a process called direct examination. The opposing party is allowed to question the same witness in a process called cross-examination.
  • Closing arguments: The defense is allowed to make a closing argument first. The purpose of the argument is, to sum up, the evidence and convince the jury of the defendant’s innocence.
  • Jury deliberation: The jury retires to a room to deliberate upon the case.
  • Sentencing: The judge passes a sentence if the jury’s verdict states the guilt of the defendant. If the defendant is not guilty, the defendant is acquitted.
  • Appeal: A party on the case dissatisfied with the conviction or the sentence passed by the judge can appeal the case to a higher court for redress.

How Long Does it Take For a Case to Go to Trial in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island possesses a speedy trial law intended to reduce the defendant’s stress by extended involvement in the legal proceedings. Depending on the time delay at the several stages preceding a trial, it might take a few weeks or a few months before a case goes to trial.

What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in Rhode Island?

According to the Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure, after the indictment of a defendant by a grand jury or probable cause for prosecution is found, a trial can begin. A selection of qualified jurors precedes the actual court process. Fourteen jurors are selected by ballot with two extras. The judge examines the jurors and the lawyers on either side of the case. Prejudiced jurors are removed and replaced.

The trial begins with the opening statements from the two parties. Also, the stance of each respective side on the innocence or guilt of the defendant is stated. Witnesses are brought forward and examined by the attorneys on either side. Each side presents evidence before the court. The two parties make closing arguments to reinforce the stances put forward. In all of these proceedings, the prosecution has the right to go first. Only during the closing arguments is the defense allowed to lead.

The jury retreats to deliberate upon the evidence and the arguments provided. After a unanimous vote, the foreperson of the jury hands down the verdict to the court. This verdict is either acquittal or conviction. If the defendant is convicted, the judge will issue a sentence as dictated by the law. Either party displeased by the judgment passed or the conviction given can appeal to a higher court to review if some error occurred during the proceedings.

Can you be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in Rhode Island?

No. According to Article I Section 7 of the Rhode Island Constitution, no person can be put on trial twice for the same crime, except an order from the attorney-general is issued. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution also ruled that the court cannot try a person twice for the same offense, known as the double jeopardy clause.

How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in Rhode Island?

Criminal court cases can be accessed in two ways, either remotely or physically. The Rhode Island Judiciary Public Portal allows access to electronic case files at all levels of the Rhode Island Judiciary handling criminal cases, including the Supreme Court, the Superior Courts, and the District Courts. However, the information available to a searcher differs based on the mode of access to the information system. This use of this system is not to view sealed information. Third-party websites may also help to retrieve Rhode Island criminal case documents.

How to Access Electronic Court Records in Rhode Island

The state judiciary facilitates electronic access to court records in Rhode Island through the Rhode Island Judiciary Public Portal. The system allows both remote access and physical access to information at the state judiciary’s various levels. The mode of access limits the amount of information available to a searcher as the only information displayed through remote access are registers of action and case dockets. Interested persons can pay a physical visit to the courthouse where the hearing took place to use the electronic terminals in the courthouse clerk’s office to access all the available public electronic information on a case. However, attorneys can access all the information on a lawsuit remotely, but the public and self-represented litigants cannot access this privilege. Access to the electronic information service is by subscription.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How Do I Remove Public Court Records in Rhode Island?

The provisions under Title 12 Chapter 1.3 of the Rhode Island Criminal Procedure sealing a court file protects the documents from public access, and no record of the legal action against the defender will be publicly available. Sealable case files are:

  • Records of misdemeanors and felonies, which are not crimes of violence for a first offender, if the violator has paid all fines, charges, costs, or imposed monetary obligations;
  • Records of persons convicted of more than one misdemeanor but of less than six;
  • Records of misdemeanors five years after completing the sentence for the conviction. However, there should be no conviction of other felonies or misdemeanors within the five years, and no court proceeding is pending against the individual;
  • Records of felonies ten years after the sentence for the conviction have been completed, with no other trial or pending court proceeding.

In Rhode Island, the process of sealing court records include;

  • Confirm eligibility and get the case file from the repository or Judicial Records Center (if the record is more than three years old) for $3.
  • File a motion at the court where the conviction took place.
  • Know the court date for the hearing.
  • If the judge grants the request for sealing, the requestor must pay $100 to get the judge’s order. Installment payment is possible.
  • Keep the original court order and give a copy to the police department.
  • Confirm the sealing of the case file two months after. However, record sealing may take months in Rhode Island.
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