Understanding Your Charges Giving You a Fighting Chance

Understanding Your Criminal Charges in Rhode Island

Rhode Island Criminal Attorney

Whether you have found yourself under arrest for the first time or you have had the unfortunate experience of multiple arrests, Attorney Tom Thomasian can you and advise you through this difficult time. Below is a guide to the general categories of crime in Rhode Island and how the Rhode Island legal system determines bail for any given offense.


If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, you face up to one year in prison.

Examples of misdemeanor criminal offenses are:

A petty misdemeanor is a criminal offense punishable by no more than six months in prison. Examples of petty misdemeanors are disorderly conduct and domestic disorderly conduct.

What Is a Non-Capital Felony?

If law enforcement has accused you of a non-capital felony, the penalties range from 3 to 50 years in prison.

Examples of non-capital felony crimes are:

  • Drug possession
  • Possession of a stolen motor vehicle
  • Breaking and entering (B&E)
  • Receiving stolen goods over $1,500.00
  • Third offense domestic assault
  • Third offense violation of a no-contact order
  • Larceny
  • Second-degree robbery
  • Second-degree child molestation
  • Second-degree sexual assault
  • Possession with intent to deliver drugs / drug delivery

These offenses are not punishable by life in prison.

Definition of Capital Felony

Capital felonies are the most serious crimes in the Rhode Island criminal justice system. If you have been arrested for a capital offense, you face the possibility of going to prison for life.

Examples of capital crimes:

  • Murder
  • First-degree sexual assault
  • First-degree child molestation
  • First-degree robbery
  • Kidnapping
  • Burglary
  • Arson

Types of Bail in Rhode Island

For most criminal offenses in Rhode Island, a person arrested has the right to bail. Only for the capital offenses listed above, is a person automatically held without bail absent a compelling reason for release. If a person is held without bail, they have the right to a bail or probation hearing.

For misdemeanor offenses and non-capital felony offenses, a person can be granted personal recognizance bail, surety bail, or held without bail if they are a probation or bail violator in either district court, superior court, or both.

  • Personal Recognizance Bail: Personal recognizance bail requires only an individual's promise to appear for the next scheduled court date. No money or property is required for this type of bail and release is immediate.
  • Surety Bail: If you are given surety bail, it means you will have to use money or property to effectuate your release. In regards to money or property, the general rule for surety bail is $1,000 for every year the accused could be sentenced to jail. For example, the crime of breaking and entering (B&E) is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Surety bail, in this case, could be set at $10,000 if the general rule is applied. Surety bail requires a person to pay 10% of the amount granted with cash or property. If a person's bail is $10,000, then they would be required to post $1,000.00 in cash or its equivalent in property.
  • Held Without Bail: This type of bail is designated for only the most serious offenses or for those people who are accused of violating their bail or probation. When you are held without bail, no amount of money or property can obtain your release. If you are held without bail, you are entitled to a bail hearing or probation violation hearing, depending on what your circumstances dictate.

Once bailed from the police station, you should contact a Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer immediately. You can contact The Law Office of Thomas C. Thomasian, Esq. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We serve clients throughout Rhode Island including Warwick, Cranston, Westerly, Pawtucket, Coventry, Newport, all of Providence County, Kent County, and Washington County.

Why Tom Is the Right Choice

  • Proven Record of Success
  • Over a Decade of Criminal Defense Experience
  • Personalized Legal Representation
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