Below you will find frequently asked questions (FAQS) concerning one-year filings for RI misdemeanors. A filing is one of the lowest forms of punishments available under RI law. This post is authored by an East Providence criminal defense attorney.
What exactly is a one-year filing penalty for criminal offenses under Rhode Island law?
Typically, one-year filings are only offered by city solicitors or prosecutors for first time offense misdemeanor allegations. However, a person can be sentenced to numerous one-year filings. The types of offenses typically warranting a filing include: domestic assault, failure to relinquish a telephone, cyberstalking, cyberharassing, domestic disorderly conduct, simple assault, simple assault domestic, harassing phone call, reckless driving, and shoplifting. A one year filing is one of the most lenient forms of punishment for an alleged criminal offense in Rhode Island. A filing is always better than a period of probation or a suspended sentence. You should contact a RI criminal defense lawyer before you accept any plea deal.
Case put on shelf for a year
A filing is when the criminal cause of action is put aside, figuratively, on the shelf for a year time period. If a criminal defendant is not arrested for a new offense and abides by the conditions of his or her filing (such as payment of restitution and court costs) for a year then the RI criminal case is dismissed. The person is eligible for expungement at the end of the one year period. (In RI domestic offenses, a one-year filing can still be dismissed after the 1 year filing period but the case is not eligible to be expunged until three years.)
If a defendant gets pinched for a new criminal offense in Rhode Island or another state during the period of the filing, then prosecutors may attempt to violate the person for breaking the conditions of the filing. If an accused violates a condition of his or her filing then the accused could be re-sentenced for the offense they received a filing for. This is all in addition to prosecutors proceeding with a criminal prosecution for the new offense.)
Should a criminal accused accept a plea deal with the prosecution without a RI criminal defense attorney?
No one should go it alone without a Providence criminal defense lawyer on their side. A criminal defendant accused of a crime in Rhode Island should retain an East Providence criminal lawyer. A RI criminal lawyer will make sure that your rights are protected.
Is a filing a conviction pursuant to Rhode Island law?
A nolo contedere plea with a filing is not a conviction in RI! If the trial justice finds someone guilty after trial, the criminal defendant may be sentenced to filing. In that event, the filing would probably be considered a conviction during the one-year period. Under RI laws, any guilty finding after a plea bargain or after a judge or jury trial on the merits constitutes a conviction. A criminal defendant could appeal a guilty finding by a judge after trial to avoid a conviction.
Can a one year filing sentence in Rhode Island be expunged at the end of the applicable one year time period?
Yes. However, for domestic offense a defendant must wait three years to erase the filing from his record. It is imperative that a defendant under a filing files an expungement motion at the end of the one year period! It is not automatic. A certified copy of the expungement order must be sent to the appropriate entities asking them to destroy the records.
Under Rhode Island laws What types of filing are offered or available?
There are three vastly different types of filings in RI, a guilty filing, not guilty filing and a nolo-contendere filing. A nolo contendere filing is when the accused criminal admits to the facts and the case is filed for a one year period of time. The vast majority of filings are nolo contendere filings! Whereas, if a person is violated for a nolo contendere filing, the judge simply must impose a sentence because the person has already admitted guilt to that offense.*** A guilty filing occurs after a full trial on the merits when a judge sentences a person to a filing.
If accused criminal violates her one year filing by not complying with the conditions of the filing or getting arrested again during the filing period then the persons filing can be revoked by the Providence Court. If a defendant gets arrested for a new criminal offense, violates the stipulations of the one year filing then the criminal defendant will be hailed back into Court for a hearing on whether or not a person will be violated for the filing. If the trial justice makes a find that the person violated the filing then he will be re-sentenced on the original one year filing. (*** If the underlying filing was a not guilty filing, the prosecution must prove the defendant’ guilt at that time beyond a reasonable doubt)
New criminal charge in Providence District or Superior Court
If a defendant is charged with new criminal offense, a person can be violated for the filing and in addition be charged with a new crime. There are various conditions that can be put on a filing including alcohol and drug counseling, domestic violence counseling or classes, restitution, no contact with the victim and community service.
If a person is arrested for a new criminal offense while on a filing in Rhode Island, the person is subject to being held at the aci for up to 14 days as a violator of his filing. When a person is arraigned for a new offense during the filing, the state may inform you that you either admit to the new offense and take probation or you will be held in jail for up to 14 days before you get a hearing on the merits as to whether a violation occurred!
An accused under a filing must be extremely diligent! A new criminal offense during the filing period in all likelihood means that a person will spend up to 14 days at the aci (jail) without the benefit of a hearing on the merits. In other words even if the person is innocent of the new offense, he or she could still spend up to 14 days in jail! This is extremely unfair and wrong but nevertheless it is the law in Rhode Island.
Can the court also order a no contact order as part of the filing sentence?
If the criminal matter is a domestic related case or other case such as an assault and battery then a no contact order may be issued in favor of the victim when you accept the filing. A violation of the no contact order when on a filing will constitute a violation of the filing as well as a separate criminal offense and may lead to jail time at the aci.
*** A not Guilty filing is when the defendant maintains his innocence and the case if filed for a year. A not guilty filing is not usually allowed by Judges in the District Court! Not Guilty filings are extremely rare in the District Court. A major difference between a not guilty filing and a nolo contendere filing is when a person is violated for a not guilty filing then the state / prosecution must prove guilt at that time. Some judges will not allow not guilty filings as a matter of policy. Not guilty filings are very beneficial to the defendant as the best case scenario short of a dismissal or not guilty finding because if the person is accused of a new crime or violating their filing the state will need to still prove their underlying case.
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‘Section 18. A defendant who is before the Boston municipal court or a district court or a district court sitting in a juvenile session or a juvenile court on a criminal offense within the court’s final jurisdiction shall plead not guilty or guilty, or with the consent of the court, nolo contendere. Such plea of guilty shall be submitted by the defendant and acted upon by the court; provided, however, that a defendant with whom the commonwealth cannot reach agreement for a recommended disposition. ” https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIV/TitleII/Chapter278/Section18
“Many researchers have found that those who go to trial are more likely to receive harsher sentences than those who accept a plea when comparable offenses are considered (Albonetti, 1991; Britt, 2000; Dixon, 1995; Engen and Gainey, 2000; Kurlychek and Johnson, 2004; Steffensmeier and Demuth, 2000, 2001; Steffensmeier and Hebert, 1999; Steffensmeier et al., 1993, 1998). Plea and Charge Bargaining Prepared by: Lindsey Devers, Ph.D. CSR, Incorporated 2107 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1000 Arlington, VA 20001 www.csrincorporated.com Under Contract No. GS-10F-0114L, Order No. 2008-F_08151 Janaury 24, 2011 https://www.bja.gov/Publications/PleaBargainingResearchSummary.pdf
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