In Rhode Island, how serious is a misdemeanor charge?

Some thoughts that come to mind after being arrested for a misdemeanor criminal offense include, “It’s only a misdemeanor, so it’s not that severe. The allegations against you are so serious that you will need a lawyer to help you because misdemeanors are considered to be desperate but not as felonies, many people regard them as minor offenses. A minor criminal infraction, on the other hand, does not exist. Whether you’ve been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, you could face long-term penalties if you’re convicted.

Although the cost of engaging a private criminal defense counsel may deter you, it is typically worth it in the end for a misdemeanor case.


A misdemeanor in Rhode Island is a crime punishable by no more than a year in jail and/or a fine of no more than $1,000. It’s deemed a minor misdemeanor if the crime is punished by no more than six months in jail and/or a $500 fine. Felonies in Rhode Island, on the other hand, can result in a sentence of more than a year (R.I. Gen. Laws- 11-1-2 (2020)).

You may spend up to a year in prison if you are charged with a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor criminal offenses include the following:

  • An uncomplicated assault
  • Assault in the home
  • Trespassing and domestic trespassing are two different types of trespassing.
  • A no-contact order has been broken.
  • Driving when inebriated (DUI)

A petty misdemeanor is a crime that has a maximum sentence of six months in jail. Disorderly conduct and domestic disorderly conduct are examples of minor offenses. There are numerous reasons why you should still seek a lawyer if you are charged with a misdemeanor:

  • You face significant consequences -In Rhode Island, a misdemeanor offense carries a maximum punishment of one year in prison and $1000 in penalties. Anything that carries a sentence of more than one year in prison and a fine of more than $1,000 is considered a felony.

Of course, this is because a felony is a more serious offense than a misdemeanor. An attorney can examine your case, evaluate all of your legal alternatives, and assist you in having your case dropped or having your fines reduced. If you are found guilty without one to assist you through the complexity of the criminal justice system, you may be forced to serve the maximum penalty.

  • You do not have to enter a plea of guilty – Just because you were arrested does not imply you are inevitably guilty. You won’t be able to contest the accusations against you if you plead guilty without the assistance of a lawyer, which means the prosecution and court will have complete discretion in pursuing the maximum punishment. An RI misdemeanor attorney looks into your arrest, gathers evidence, and develops a solid defense plan to get the best possible result.

In Rhode Island, how does misdemeanor sentencing work?

Although each misdemeanor has a maximum penalty connected with it, the rules for some specific offenses set lesser restrictions. A few offenses also have minimum penalties. If you’re found guilty of a misdemeanor or minor misdemeanor, the court will determine the appropriate penalty within the legal parameters. If you’re guilty of a misdemeanor and sentenced to a period of imprisonment in most states, you’ll serve it in county jail rather than state prison. Rhode Island, on the other hand, has a unified correctional system. That implies that all individuals condemned to jail will spend their time in one of the state’s correctional facilities, regardless of the offense or the duration of the sentence. (R.I. Gen Laws -12-19-23 (2020)).

Obtaining Legal Assistance for Misdemeanor Charges

Even while misdemeanor accusations are less serious than felonies, they can still result in significant repercussions if you are convicted. It may have an impact on your capacity to get work or rent an apartment. If you get into problems with the law again, a past conviction might result in a harsher punishment. So, if you’re facing criminal accusations, it’s critical to consult with a local criminal defense attorney who can defend your rights and assist you to achieve the best possible result under the circumstances.


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