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While being charged with any crime in Rhode Island can have serious consequences, domestic violence charges are especially severe, and may result in both civil and criminal penalties for the accused defendant. At the Law Office of Jay Bianco, our domestic violence lawyer can help you to understand your rights and your defense options if you have been charged with a domestic violence crime in our state. To learn more about your options and how we can best aid you, reach out to our lawyer directly today.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence in Rhode Island?

According to the Rhode Island Domestic Violence Prevention Act, any of the following crimes, if committed against a family or household member, constitute domestic violence:

  • Simple assault
  • Felony assault
  • Vandalism
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Trespass
  • Kidnapping
  • Child snatching
  • Sexual assault
  • Homicide
  • Violation of a protective order
  • Stalking
  • Obstruction, damage, or refusal to relinquish a telephone
  • Burglary and unlawful entry
  • Arson
  • Cyber-harassment and cyber-stalking
  • Electronic tracking of motor vehicles and
  • Domestic assault by strangulation

Domestic violence, as stated above, only occurs when it is committed against a family or household member. A family or household member is defined, by statute, as a spouse, former spouse, adult person related by marriage or blood, adult persons who are living together or who have lived together sometime in the past three years, persons who have or had a dating relationship, or persons who have a child together.

If you have been accused of one of the above, work with our Providence domestic violence criminal defense attorney to learn more about the specific details of each crime and what the prosecution will need to prove in order to secure a conviction.

Penalties for Domestic Violence

If you are charged with a domestic violence crime, it is important that you retain the counsel of an experienced legal professional as quickly as possible, as the potential penalties for a domestic violence charge are very serious.

The degree of penalty that you face for a conviction will vary on the specific domestic crime with which you have been convicted – for example, a simple domestic violence assault will be punished much less severely than will domestic assault by strangulation. To be sure, domestic assault by strangulation, found in Section 11-5-2.3 of Rhode Island code, is punishable by an imprisonment period of up to 10 years. In all instances of domestic violence, the penalties will, in addition to the penalties specific to the crime itself, also include penalties found under Section 12-29-5. This section of statute explains that every person who is convicted of a domestic violence crime shall, in addition to any other sentence imposed by the court, attend a batterer’s intervention program, and shall also be obligated to pay a fine, in addition to other court costs and assessments, of $125.

Further, any person who is convicted of a domestic violence offense that is a misdemeanor crime will face imprisonment for between 10 and 365 days for a second violation, face felony charges and an imprisonment period of between one and 10 years for a third violation, and not be eligible for a suspension of the jail sentence. Additionally, any person who is convicted of a domestic violence offense shall be required to surrender any firearms in their possession and will be barred from purchasing any firearms.

In addition to the above, a domestic violence charge may also mean losing custody of one’s children, a permanent note on one’s criminal record, the inability to hold certain jobs/gain employment in the future, and civil penalties, including consequences of a family court’s decision regarding child custody, property division, spousal support, and more. Additionally, it is likely that a person convicted of domestic violence will have a restraining order issued against them.

Defenses to Domestic Violence

If you are charged with domestic violence but you do not believe that you should be found guilty of the crime, you may be able to plead innocent and present a case as such. Some of the most common defense to domestic violence include:

  • Self-defense – you may be able to argue that you were protecting yourself or another member of your household, from a threat or act of violence committed by the alleged “victim” of your crime.
  • Accidental harm – which means that while you don’t deny that the victim was injured, you do deny any intent in causing harm.
  • Lack of domestic violence – you may be able to prove that the person who has claimed charges against you is making up the story as a way to get back at you or punish you or.
  • Lack of evidence to convict you – remember in order to secure a conviction, the prosecution must be able to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that there is zero doubt in the jury’s mind that you committed the crime. The prosecution may not have enough evidence, or evidence that can legally be submitted to the court, in order to convict you. For example, if any evidence was obtained via an illegal search and seizure, it cannot be used against you in a court of law.
Our Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

At the Law Office of Jay Bianco, our experienced criminal defense attorney has years of experience defending clients like you who are facing domestic violence charges. We know how scary it can be to be charged with a crime, and how overwhelming navigating the criminal process is. When you call our law firm, we will work hard to protect your best interests and ensure that your rights aren’t breached. From explaining your options to exploring viable defenses to charges to negotiating a plea deal with the prosecution, we are here for you.

If you are facing criminal charges, don’t wait any longer to take action. Please call our law firm directly or send us a message at your convenience to schedule a meeting with Attorney Jay Bianco.

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