What Are the Levels of Offenses in Rhode Island?

RI General Laws

The Rhode Island General Laws contain several statutes concerning prohibited conduct. These laws are in place to protect the rights and safety of all citizens. If a person violates one (or more), they could be penalized for their behavior.

Now, not all forbidden conduct is the same, meaning some offenses are more serious than others. Thus, the potential penalties a person faces differ depending on the crime, as it would be unfair to sentence one person to life in prison for murder and another person to the same term for disturbing their neighbors by making loud noises late at night.

Because different types of offenses can be committed, Rhode Island separates crimes into separate levels. These include:

  • Felonies,
  • Misdemeanors, and
  • Petty misdemeanors

What Differentiates the Levels of Offenses in RI?

The severity of an offense determines what punishments will be imposed, and the penalties establish the level the crime is classified at.

Felonies in RI

Felonies are considered the most serious crimes, and they carry the steepest penalties of the three levels of offenses. Rhode Island only has one category of a felony (some other states further divide felony offenses into class or degrees).

Generally, a felony is an offense that is punishable by more than 1 year in prison and/or by a fine of more than $1,000. However, that's not to say that all felonies are penalized the same. For instance, suppose a person commits an assault with a deadly weapon but they do not cause any injury to the victim. This conduct is penalized by imprisonment of up to 6 years. Now, let's say another person mutilated or disfigured another individual. This is considered mayhem (RI General Laws § 11-29-1), and they may be imprisoned for up to 20 years.

Misdemeanors in RI

Misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies. In Rhode Island, these types of offenses are penalized by imprisonment for no more than 1 year and/or a fine of no more than $1,000. For instance, impersonating a police officer (RI General Laws § 11-14-1) is considered a misdemeanor and punished by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. As with felonies, not all misdemeanor convictions result in the same jail term or fine. A judge will consider many factors when determining the type of sentence to impose.

Petty Misdemeanors in RI

The lowest level of offense is a petty misdemeanor. These crimes are punishable by a maximum jail term of 6 months and/or a fine of up to $500. An example of a petty misdemeanor is disorderly conduct (RI General Laws § 11-45-1), which occurs when someone engages in behavior such as fighting or making loud or unreasonable noises.

Aggressively Defend Against Any RI Criminal Charge

It's important to note that although we stated above that misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies (and it would follow that petty misdemeanors are considered less serious than misdemeanors), any criminal charge should be taken seriously. The arrest and conviction information shows up on a criminal record, which can have life-altering impacts.

If you've been charged with a crime in Rhode Island, it's crucial that you hire a skilled attorney to defend your case. At the Law Office of Thomas C. Thomasian, Esq., we have over a decade of experience and can deliver the aggressive defense you need. Call us at (401) 312-4385 or contact us online today.