Domestic Violence

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Warwick, Rhode Island Domestic Violence Lawyer

Standing Up for the Accused in Kent County, Providence County, and Washington County

The mere mention of domestic violence evokes strong emotions in all those involved in or close to the case. For instance, the accused may feel frightened or worried about what the allegations mean for their future and what outcomes they could face. On the other hand, law enforcement officials, family members, employers, and other members of society might presume that the accused is guilty, even though the criminal case has not even begun. Because of the delicate nature of domestic violence cases in Warwick, Rhode Island, and the government’s fervent pursuit of a conviction, if you have been charged with an offense, it’s crucial that you immediately retain the services of a lawyer.

At the Law Offices of Thomas H. O’Brien, I, Attorney Thomas H. O’Brien, am ready to defend you. I recognize that charges can often arise from false accusations or misunderstandings. Whether the allegations are unfounded, I look at more than just the crime; I look at you as a person with a lot on the line. Remember, in the eyes of the law, you are presumed innocent, and I, an experienced Warwick domestic violence attorney, will do what it takes to protect your rights and future. Backed by more than 25 years’ experience of working in courts throughout RI, I know how to develop effective defenses against criminal charges. I am prepared to seek an optimal result on your behalf. 

To schedule a free consultation with a Warwick, Rhode Island domestic violence lawyer ready to stand up for you, call me at (401) 992-5054 or contact me online today. I serve Kent, Providence, and Washington Counties.

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What Is Considered Domestic Violence in Rhode Island?

Generally, domestic violence involves acts of harm or threatened harm against a family or household member.

Rhode Island’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act defines a family or household member as:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Adults related by blood or marriage
  • Adults currently living together or who have lived together in the past 3 years
  • Persons with a child together (regardless of marital or living status)
  • Persons who were in a substantive dating or engagement relationship in the past year

The laws concerning domestic violence are not different from those for other crimes. In other words, a separate domestic violence statute does not exist in Rhode Island. Instead, the elements of an offense are the same as those outlined for various crimes codified in the Rhode Island General Laws. The distinction is who they are committed against.

Several offenses can be charged as domestic violence, including, but not limited to:

  • Domestic assault: Causing another person to fear that they are at risk of immediate physical injury (RI Gen. Laws § 11-5-3). 
  • Domestic cyberstalking: Engaging in a series of acts over time to harass another individual (RI Gen. Laws § 11-52-4.2).
  • Domestic disorderly conduct: Fighting, threatening, disturbing, or provoking another person (RI Gen. Laws § 11-45-1).
  • Domestic assault by strangulation: Applying pressure to another person’s neck or covering their nose or mouth to block breath or blood circulation (RI Gen. Laws § 11-5-2.3).
  • Domestic vandalism: Injuring or destroying the property of another or preventing them from using it (RI Gen. Laws § 11-44-1).
  • Domestic trespass: Remaining on another person’s property after being asked to leave (RI Gen. Laws § 11-44-26).
  • Domestic kidnapping: Forcibly secreting or transporting another person against their will (RI Gen. Laws § 11-26-1).
  • Domestic sexual assault: Engaging in sexual penetration or contact with another person knowing that the individual cannot resist or by using force, coercion, or the element of surprise (RI Gen. Laws §§ 11-37-2 & 11-37-4).
  • Domestic homicide: Committing murder by unlawfully killing another person through deliberate, malicious premeditation or committing manslaughter by unlawfully killing another person without premeditation (RI Gen. Laws §§ 11-23-111-23-3).

A charge for any criminal offense is severe. That is why I take these cases seriously. As a domestic violence attorney in Warwick, I tirelessly fight for my clients. I will be dedicated to challenging the accusations against you.

What Are the Penalties for RI Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. As such, the punishments upon a conviction can include incarceration and/or fines.

Examples of potential domestic violence penalties in Rhode Island include:

  • Domestic assault:
    • Up to 1 year in jail and/or
    • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • Domestic cyberstalking:
    • Up to 1 year in jail and/or
    • Up to $500 in fines
  • Domestic disorderly conduct:
    • Up to 6 months in jail and/or
    • Up to $500 in fines
  • Domestic assault by strangulation:
    • Up to 10 years in prison and/or
    • Over $1,000 in fines
  • Domestic kidnapping:
    • Up to 20 years of imprisonment and/or
    • Over $1,000 in fines
  • Domestic sexual assault:
    • 10 years to life in prison (first-degree), 
    • 2 to 15 years in prison (second-degree), and/or
    • Over $1,000 in fines
  • Domestic homicide:
    • Life imprisonment (first-degree murder)
    • Up to 30 years in prison (manslaughter)

In misdemeanor domestic violence cases, the court can impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days in jail if it is the defendant’s second offense. If it’s their third offense, they can be charged with a felony and be ordered to a minimum of 1 year of incarceration.

In addition to the punishments listed above, domestic violence cases carry their own specific sanctions.

For instance, the defendant:

  • May be subject to a no-contact order,
  • May be ordered to surrender firearms,
  • May be ordered to complete a batterers’ intervention program,
  • May be subject to pay a $125 assessment, and/or
  • May not have jail time suspended.

Despite the allegations against you, your case is not hopeless. As Warwick domestic violence lawyer, I recognize the difficulties prosecutors can run into when trying to prove their cases. I thoroughly review the facts and analyze the evidence to uncover weaknesses and develop solid defenses.

The Role of Authorities in RI Domestic Violence Cases

When a police officer responds to a domestic violence call, they can make an arrest if they have probable cause to believe that a crime occurred. They won’t arrest both parties involved, though. They’ll take into custody the person they feel was the primary aggressor. 

After the officer files their report, the prosecuting attorney will decide whether the case is pursued. Note that it’s up to the prosecutor to decide whether to press charges, not the victim. Thus, trying to reason with the alleged victim will not result in dropped charges. In fact, talking to them could lead to even more problems for you.

At the time of the incident, authorities will also inform the alleged victim that they can pursue a protective order. The order can place various restrictions on you, even though your case has not concluded.

For instance, it could:

  • Prohibit you from abusing the alleged victim or child,
  • Award the alleged victim exclusive access to your home,
  • Direct you to leave your home (provided that you don’t have sole legal interest), or
  • Award custody of your children to the alleged victim.

Why Hire a Rhode Island Domestic Violence Lawyer

A domestic violence lawyer in Rhode Island can help protect the rights of accused individuals who have been charged with a domestic violence offense. With their experience and knowledge, they can help ensure that all available options are explored and pursued to secure the best possible outcome for the case.

A good domestic violence defense lawyer can assist in gathering evidence, finding witnesses, and presenting compelling arguments on behalf of their client. Additionally, they can provide guidance on how to handle other matters surrounding a domestic violence case such as restraining orders, child custody issues, or criminal proceedings. 

Hiring a knowledgeable attorney who specializes in defending those charged with domestic violence will give you peace of mind that your case is being handled appropriately. With the right defense, you may be able to have your charges dropped or reduced and avoid serious consequences.

Reach Out to a Domestic Violence Attorney in Warwick

The emotions involved in a domestic violence matter can be difficult to deal with. You shouldn’t also have to worry about the legalities concerning your case. When you hire me, I will take care of the legal details and develop a solid defense strategy on your behalf.

Discuss your case with Warrick, Rhode Island domestic violence lawyer by calling (401) 992-5054 or submitting an online contact form today.