In Rhode Island, domestic violence charges come with short-term consequences, and domestic violence convictions come with long-term consequences. One immediate consequence of domestic violence crimes in Rhode Island is the issuance of a No Contact Order. Understanding domestic violence charges and no contact orders from the moment of the charge is critical. Failure to understand the significance of a No Contact Order can have negative consequences.
No Contact Orders
When someone faces domestic violence charges in Rhode Island, courts automatically issue a “No Contract Order” between the accused and the alleged victim in the case. Many people argue this presumes the person's guilt, and unfairly punishes the accused. While it is true a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent under the law, it is also true that Rhode Island has decided, as a matter of public policy, No Contact Orders will be issued in all domestic violence cases.
No contact literally means no contact. If you are currently living with the alleged victim, you will be ordered to live elsewhere during the pendency of the case, at a minimum. Depending on how the case resolves, this order may continue long after the case resolution. If you have children in common, the courts will address that issue. The court may assign custody to your partner and may prohibit you from contact with the children. Even if allowed contact with the children, you may not send messages to the alleged victim through the children. A simple message: “Tell your mom I love her” is a violation of the order. While it may seem harmless to the casual observer, courts take this conduct very seriously. No conduct unequivocally means no contact.
The no contact order covers all forms of communication, from phone calls to text messages, from posts on Twitter to private messages on Facebook. You may not send messages through third parties, or leave notes on their car. Failure to observe the no contact order will result in additional criminal charges.
Courts only dismiss no contact orders before trial under certain specific circumstances. If an alleged victim wishes to have the no contact order lifted, he or she can make that request to the court. However, this is not the end of the process. A judge must agree that lifting the no contact order is the best course of action in any given case. In other words, a judge can deny the request to lift the no contact order.
Charged with a Domestic Violence Crime?
If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence, do not presume you can handle the matter yourself. Domestic violence cases come with short-term and long-term consequences. You need an attorney well versed in the law as well as common local practice. Let us act as your advocate as you face these charges. We carefully review police reports, video evidence, and audio evidence, evaluating the strength of the government's case. We communicate with prosecutors with an eye towards reducing negative consequences, both criminal and civil. Contact us for a consultation at (401) 380-6724.