Personal Injury – Car – Auto Accidents – Slip & Fall Rhode Island FAQS by a RI Lawyer

Question: When I meet my personal injury lawyer for the first time, are there any particular documents I should bring with me?

Answer: You should supply your attorney with as much information as possible. If your attorney has more information, he will be better able to properly advise you of your legal rights. You need to bring in all documents pertaining to your case. The accident report is a very important document that you should bring your attorney. Article by attorney David Slepkow (401) 437-1100.

Also, if you have any eye witness statements or medical records or reports from your doctors, you should bring those to your lawyer. If you have any photographs of the accident or of your injury, please bring those to the attorney meeting. If you don’t have the documentation, your attorney may collect the documents for you.

Question: What type of information will the attorney request at the initial consultation concerning my Rhode Island personal injury or automobile accident case?

Answer: Your attorney will request general information related to your medical treatment. The attorney will attempt to compile a list of the name and address of all treating physicians and medical providers. This includes physical therapists, chiropractors, visiting nurses and other medical providers. The attorney may also ask you for a list of prior medical providers.

Question: What usually happens at the first consultation:

Answer: The personal injury lawyer that you have selected will tell you whether you have a valid legal claim. If you decide to hire that lawyer, then the lawyer will request that you sign a retainer agreement. The retainer agreement is an important legal document which a lawyer is required to obtain. At the initial consultation, it is extremely difficult for your lawyer to tell you the value of your case. The value of your case is dependent on many circumstances which include the amount of your medical bills, and the nature and extent of any pain and suffering. The value may be depend on whether or not your injury is permanent, whether or not there were periods of partial or complete disability, whether or not there was any disfigurement, scarring or other physical injury and the amount of your lost wages, etc.

After you have completed treatment or have reached a certain point in your medical treatment, the lawyer will provide a settlement demand with all relevant medical records and documentation to the insurance adjuster. If the insurance company believes the claim has merit and the insurance adjuster and the attorney can agree on a figure, then the case will be settled out of court. Despite the fact that the attorney will attempt to settle the case, the attorney will be preparing the case for court in the event that the case does not settle.

Question: What is necessary to have a valid personal injury case?

Answer: If you were injured as a result of another person’s or entity’s negligence or intentional act, then you have a potential personal injury cause of action. It is not always required to have a physical injury to bring a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury lawsuit can be pursued based on the diminution of your reputation or an intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Question: What exactly is a settlement in a personal injury case?

Answer: If you settle a Rhode Island personal injury car accident or slip and fall case, you are agreeing to accept a sum of money in exchange for either not pursuing a personal injury case against the person or entity or dismissing a personal injury case against a person or entity. If the case settles, you will need to sign a release releasing any parties of any potential future liability. In order to determine whether or not you should accept a personal injury settlement, your attorney needs to assess the amount of damages you have suffered, the likelihood of prevailing at trial, and any other factors that the attorney deems appropriate.

A settlement can be reached at any time prior to the filing of the lawsuit or after the lawsuit is filed and any time up until the jury’s verdict. The case can even be settled after the trial if the case is on appeal.

At Slepkow, Slepkow & Associates, Inc. it is our firm philosophy that it is the client’s decision on whether or not to accept a personal injury settlement. We will certainly help you in making that determination by providing all of the essential information and answering any relevant questions that you have. We often will give our recommendation as to whether or not a settlement is fair. We always let our clients make the final decision whether or not to accept a personal injury or auto accident settlement.

Question: What if I am unhappy with the lawyer who is handling my case? In Rhode Island, do I have the right to obtain a new lawyer? If I obtain a new lawyer who will pay for the legal services rendered by the old attorney?

Answer: In Rhode Island (RI), if you are dissatisfied with your attorney’s legal representation, you have the right to obtain a new attorney at any time. Your old attorney may have a statutory lien against your personal injury case. If you prevail or the case is settled, your old attorney will have a right to be paid for the legal services that he provided you. However, you will not be required to pay the old attorney upon obtaining a new attorney. When your case is settled or when you receive funds as a result of a verdict, the old and the new attorney will equitably divide the contingent legal fee. In other words, it will cost you no additional funds, if you retain a new attorney. The old and new attorneys must come to an agreement as to the equitable share to be received by the old attorney.

Question: Is it a good idea to wait a period of time before I hire an attorney?

Answer: You should contact a Rhode Island personal injury attorney immediately after the accident. It is not a good idea for a person to be dealing with the insurance adjuster concerning their personal injury or car accident claim.

Question: Am I required to give a recorded statement to the insurance company upon their request?

Answer: There is no legal requirement for you to give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. However, if the insurance company is your own insurance company, you may be contractually obligated to give a recorded statement. You should not give any statement unless you have legal representation present and you should acquire a copy of the transcript.

Question: What types of cases are typically handled on a contingent fee basis?

Answer: Car/auto accidents, slip & fall, trip & fall, premises liability, bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, boating accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, wrongful death, uninsured or underinsured, motorist claims, intentional infliction of emotional distress, dog bite claims, etc

Rhode Island DUI Attorney

Rhode Island DUI Law

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in the state of Rhode Island. Rhode Island is one of the toughest states on the East coast in terms of DUI penalties. You may face steep fines, jail time, and other penalties that make DUI a serious offense. You will also face the loss of your driving privileges, making it difficult for you to maintain employment or get to medical appointments, classes, religious services, and other obligations. Because DUI is such a serious offense, it is important that you have a Rhode Island DUI attorney to represent you. A skilled Rhode Island DUI lawyer has the experience and knowledge needed to defend your case and obtain the best possible outcome.

Rhode Island DUI Arrest and Prosecution

Rhode Island has strong policies for enforcement in place to catch drivers who are driving while under the influence or while having a BAC of 0.09% or more. There are many patrols in place and law enforcement officers may use field sobriety testing, videotaping, and other techniques to gather evidence. If you have a skilled Rhode Island DUI lawyer representing you, there is a good chance the lawyer can review the procedures used and attempt to show that they deviated from the standards set forth in the law. For example, sobriety tests must be administered in a standardized way. If your attorney can show that the arresting officer deviated from the standards in any way, you may win your case.

If you are arrested for a DUI offense in Rhode Island, you will be prosecuted in one of two ways. The first way is under the traditional theory that alcohol physical or mentally impaired your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle in your control. Under this theory, the prosecutor must show that alcohol impaired your ability to operate your vehicle. He prosecutor may introduce evidence such as your driving patterns, failure to perform well on sobriety tests, appearance, and any chemical test results that were obtained. The second means of prosecution is under the “per se” laws of Rhode Island. In this type of case, the prosecutor is not at all concerned with your level of impairment, if any, at the time of your arrest. The per se case is based entirely on the results of the chemical testing you submitted to at the time of your arrest. The prosecutor will introduce the results of this test to show that you drove a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08% or greater, which violates the per saw laws of the state.

Rhode Island DUI Criminal Penalties

In Rhode Island, there is a look-back of 5 years when determining how an offense will be charged. This means that if you have prior DUI convictions within 5 years of your most recent arrest, you’ll be charged with a second or subsequent offense. If your prior convictions are more than 5 years before your most recent arrest, you will be charged with a first offense. There are a number of penalties available in DUI cases and they vary based on the number of prior offenses and other specific circumstances. There also enhanced penalties for driving with an extreme blood alcohol level. The fines for a DUI in Rhode Island are $100 for a first offense and $400 for second and subsequent offenses. A first offense has no jail time penalty because it is considered a civil offense. A second offense has a penalty of 10 days in jail and a third offense within a 10 year period has a penalty of one year in jail. For first offenders, ten hours of community service are mandatory and the court may impose a penalty of up to 60 hours. Home confinement and mandatory attendance at a Victim Impact Panel may be imposed at the discretion of the court. The enhanced penalties for driving with a BAC of 0.15% or greater are a $500 fine for a first offense and a $1,000 fine for a subsequent offense, 6 months in jail for a second offense and three years in jail for a third offense, and 20 hours of mandatory community service for first offenders. These penalties have a great potential to impact your life in a negative way so it is important that you contact a Rhode Island DUI lawyer immediately after your arrest to help preserve your rights and have the best possible chance of having a successful outcome in your case.

Rhode Island Driving Penalties

Rhode Island is a member state in the Interstate Driver’s License Compact. This means information about your Rhode Island DUI offense may be shared with your home state or prior offenses from your home state may be found and count against you as prior offenses in Rhode Island. If you are convicted of driving under the influence in Rhode Island, you face the loss of your license for a period of time to be determined based on the number of prior offenses and the severity of your most recent offense. Losing your driving privileges can make it difficult for you to participate in your normal daily activities, so hiring a Rhode Island DUI attorney is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and have a chance of winning your case.

Organizing and Operating a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Rhode Island by a RI Attorney – Lawyer

In Rhode Island (RI), owners of small businesses and rental or investment real estate should form a Rhode Island Limited Liability Company (LLC) to own and operate the business or real estate. The most important reason for establishing a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is that the owners of the Limited Liability Company, who are referred to as Members, are not liable for the debts of the company. Article by David Slepkow (401-437-1100)

This limited liability feature is important if a company is not able to pay its bills or if there is a lawsuit for damages or personal injuries resulting from the activities of the company or the ownership of its properties. It is advisable to hire a Rhode Island business and corporate law lawyer/attorney to set up the LLC. Many attorneys will not only organize your LLC but will also file your annual report on a yearly basis.

The limited liability feature also applies to Rhode Island corporations, however, the significant difference between a corporation and an LLC is that a limited liability company does not pay income taxes on its profits as a corporation is required to do. Rather, if there is only one member of the limited liability company or if the members are husband and wife, the limited liability company will be disregarded for tax purposes and the income or losses of the company will be reported on the member’s tax return. If there are members of the limited liability company who are not married to each other, the limited liability company is treated as a partnership and, again, there would be no taxation of income on the company level, but profits or losses would be reported on each member’s tax return as gains or losses from a partnership.

Forming a Rhode Island limited liability company (LLC) requires that the following be done:

1. Select a name for the company and confirm with the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s Office that the proposed name is not being used by or similar to another Rhode Island limited liability company.

2. Draft and file with the Rhode Island Secretary of State the Articles of Organization of the limited liability company. The current filing fee is $150.00 payable to the Rhode Island Secretary of State.

3. Prepare an Operating Agreement which will establish the rules for management of the limited liability company. The Operating Agreement may provide for a manager who typically is one of the members and is empowered to operate the company. Many limited liability companies, especially if they are owned by a single member or a husband and wife, are member managed, meaning that there would be no named manager, but that in fact the company would be operated by its members. The Operating Agreement would also contain provisions as to who is authorized to borrow money for the company, sign deeds or bills of sale, and do other actions which are not part of the day-to-day operation of the company. Typically, these types of actions require the consent of all the members.

4. Obtain a Federal Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service. Although, there is no income tax due from the company, a Federal Tax I.D. Number is required in order to file the Rhode Island Division of Taxation Pass-Through Income Tax Return and would be necessary if the company has any employees. There is a minimum Rhode Island fee due to the Division of Taxation for each limited liability company in the amount of $500.00 per year.

5. Each year, a limited liability company must file an Annual Report. Currently, a fee of $50.00 is payable with each Annual Report.

It is important that all residential or commercial real estate owned by the LLC be transferred by deed to the limited liability company. The real estate deed should be prepared by a RI lawyer.

A limited liability company will not relieve an individual member from personal injury liability for their own actions or negligence. The general rule is that individuals are always responsible for their own negligence. However, an LLC will protect an individual member from facing personal liability for the negligence of employees or other LLC members.

There are certainly costs involved in establishing and maintaining a Rhode Island limited liability company (LLC). The advantages of a limited liability to its members in the case of debts of the company or lawsuit especially personal injury lawsuits such as premises liability and slip and fall far outweigh the costs involved.

Rhode Island Divorce – Mixing Business and Family Relationships

Rhode Island Divorce – When Business and Family Collide!

It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about a Rhode Island Divorce or a California Divorce, there are any number of reasons for a marital break down or a family relationship breakdown. One such cause can be the mixture of business with family.

I’m not saying that business and family can’t make a good combination. What I am saying is that when you mix business and family you are creating a combination that has the potential for catastrophe written all over it both personally and legally.

Consider this example.

Tim and Sarah meet in a Rhode Island coffee shop after having met over the internet. They find that they are both entrepreneurs at heart. They both are motivated, driven, have a lot of charisma, and several common interests between them. So they decide after a short time to get married.

Things are going well for Tim and Sarah for a year or so and then then strike upon this idea to start a bed and breakfast. Tim makes the majority of the money and has exceptional credit. Sarah works hard and makes about one third of what Tim makes. Together they don’t quite qualify for a bank loan for a small place they located. So Sarah’s father says he’ll give her the majority of what he was going to give her as part of her inheritance when he dies so that she can realize her dream of owning the bed and breakdfast. The amount is about $120,000.

Sarah tells Tim the good news. Tim is ecstatic that they will have the monies to do building restoration necessary to bring in the projected revenues for the Rhode Island bed and breakfast. Tim is able to take out a mortgage loan to buy the property. The property is deeded only in Tim’s name because Sarah’s credit isn’t that good and she has a few debts hanging out there that might cause problems for the bed and breakfast if her name is on the deed.

Sarah’s father is happy to help his daughter and comes by with a check. Sarah’s father smiles and says “Here’s my gift to you honey. Good luck on your new endeavor.” The father gives her a check made out to her in the amount of $120,000.

When the place finally was ready to open, $80,000 of the money from Sarah’s father has been spent and Tim and Sarah beginning having reservations about how to run their Rhode Island marital investment. Tim and Sarah disagreed about the rate structures, their management rolls and other matters.

Tim gets frustrated and starts taking charge and doing things “his way”. Sarah questions him and Tim says that because his name is the one on the deed and without his “credit” this whole venture would not have been possible. Sarah consulted a Rhode Island lawyer about the business aspects of things and tried to talk to time about the lawyer’s advice but Tim wouldn’t listen. Their communication lessens and Tim and Sarah grow distant. Sarah wants to consults a Rhode Island Divorce and Family Lawyer about her rights in a divorce. She calls a divorce attorney and sets up a consultation.

The Rhode Island divorce lawyer asks Sarah to bring a list of her questions. What do you think she should ask? What issues might arise that she should ask about?

Here are just a few:

1. How will the Rhode Island Family Court look at the bed and breakfast?

2. Tim’s name is on the property deed to the bed and breakfast property and the mortgage. Can Sarah get any part of the property if it has appreciated?

3. Can Sarah get her $80,000 back that went into renovations for the bed and breakfast?

4. Can Tim get any of the $40,000 that remains from what Sarah’s father gave her?

5. If Sarah can get more money from her father, can she buyout Tim’s interest in the bed and breakfast?

6. If there isn’t any equity in the bed and breakfast property, who is responsible for any deficit.

7. If the bed and breakfast is being profitable and Sarah can buy out Tim’s interest, what measure will be used to calculate the buyout amount? Is it the investment amount? Is it the current physical value? Is it based on a business valuation and prospective profits?

8. If Tim put $20,000 into an account from the mortgage as a cushion for the bed and breakfast to operate, is Sarah entitled to any of those monies?

9. Can Sarah claim that the entire $120,000 her father gave her is not subject to distribution by the court and therefore she should get it back.

As you can see, there are any number of questions and issues that arise in any given situation and these are only a few of the questions. This is one of the reasons why you should never accept advice simply by reading something online. Every case is fact specific and it is imperative that a Rhode Island Divorce and/or Family Law Attorney meet with you and be fully informed about your facts and circumstances by virtue of a detailed consultation.

One caution…. never… and I do mean NEVER. . . . presume that any divorce is simple or that it is uncontested. Uncontested divorces are rare and still they are NOT simple, they are just addressed properly!

Rhode Island Divorce Tips – Inconsistencies Part I

As a Rhode Island lawyer choosing to focus my practice on divorce and family law I’ve had the opportunity to witness some inconsistencies in the divorce and family law process. Perhaps you’re surprised, perhaps not. Yet it you’re not aware of these inconsistencies before you walk into the Rhode Island Family Court, then you may be in for a rude awakening.

So let’s be sure you’re informed about your divorce.

1) Different Rhode Island judges give you different results.

All it takes is one example to grasp this little divorce twist. Judge A in sits in Courtroom 5A. Judge C sits in Courtroom 5C two doors down. Both judges will be hearing a Motion to Modify Child Support today.
Before Judge A is a father of two girls, he works an average of 35 hours of overtime per week as a firefighter. The children’s mother has filed a Motion to Modify Child Support upward.

Before Judge C is the father of a little boy and girl who works about 37 hours per week of overtime as a television station director. Likewise, the mother of the children has filed a Motion to Modify Child Support upward.

Both fathers have roughly the same base income.

The hearings are held in each courtroom. The father in Courtroom 5A comes out with a much smaller child support order than the father in Courtroom 5C despite the similarity of their circumstances.

The father before Judge C ended up with a greater child support payment because Judge C believes that regular overtime income should be considered when calculating child support. Judge A does not believe that any time over forty (40) hours should be considered in child support calculations.

Same court, same court house, same system of justice completely different and inconsistent results.

If you were scheduled to be in Courtroom 5A and then due to an illness you were shifted to Courtroom 5C, would you be upset?

Would it make a difference if you were the mother as to which court you’d want to be in?

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Criminal Misdemeanor Law in Rhode Island (RI) – Plea Agreements – Sentencing & What is a Conviction?

A misdemeanor is any offense punishable by up to one year in Jail. Typical misdemeanors are: driving under the influence of alcohol / drunk driving (dui / dwi), shoplifting, domestic assault, Second (2nd) offense refusal to take the breathalyzer, driving on a suspended license, writing bad checks, domestic vandalism, simple assault and battery, domestic disorderly, reckless driving, disorderly conduct, etc. There are different rules that apply to driving with suspended licenses and this article does not fully address those provisions.

If you cannot afford an attorney to represent you then you should contact the Public Defender. The Rhode Island Office of the Public Defender represents eligible clients in criminal law matters (misdemeanors / felony) for no charge. Do not use this article as a substitute for seeking independent legal advice from a lawyer.

It is a very bad idea for a person to represent themselves (pro-se) in a criminal case. Please note that this article only applies to Rhode Island misdemeanor offenses and does not apply to any other states!

At the arraignment, A person should almost always say not guilty and hire an attorney. If a person cannot afford a lawyer then the person should go to the Public Defender. After the arraignment the matter will be set for a pretrial conference a couple of weeks later. In some very limited circumstances a person can work out a plea deal at the arraignment. It is usually a very bad idea for a person to enter into a plea agreement without an attorney.

At the pretrial conference a person can change their plea after meeting with the prosecutor and or the judge and after finding out what the prosecutor is offering for a a sentence. A defendant can negotiate with the prosecutor through their lawyer. If a plea agreement cannot be worked out at the pretrial conferences the matter will be set for trial. The matter also could be scheduled for motions prior to the trial if motions are requested.

A person should never change their plea from not guilty to nolo contendere or guilty without a plea deal from the prosecutor.

In Rhode Island, a defendant can enter one of four pleas: guilty, not guilty, nolo contendere or an “alfred plea”.

Guilty and Not Guilty Pleas

The pleas of guilty and not guilty are obvious. If the plea is not guilty then the matter will be scheduled for a trial on the merits in which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person is guilty of the alleged offense. The person will be presumed innocent and it is the prosecutions burden to prove that the person is guilty. Usually, it is a very very bad idea to take a guilty plea! Guilty pleas or a finding of guilt after a trial is always a criminal conviction in Rhode Island.

Nolo Contendere Plea

Nolo contendere means a person is not contesting the charges. When a defendant takes a nolo contendere plea in Rhode island, the defendant is indicting that he does not want to contest the charges but is also essentially admitting to the charges.

What is the difference between a guilty plea and a nolo contendere plea in rhode Island? There is a huge difference! A guilty plea is always a criminal conviction under Rhode Island law. A criminal conviction has major negative implications especially when a person applies for employment. A plea of nolo contendere may not constitute a criminal conviction in Rhode Island. A plea of nolo contendere is only a conviction in Rhode Island if there is a sentence of confinement (such as the ACI or home confinement), a suspended sentence or a fine imposed.

For example, A plea of nolo contendere with a sentence of probation and a contribution to the violent crimes indemnity fund or court costs will not constitute a conviction under Rhode Island law! For example, A plea of nolo contendere with a sentence of a filing and a contribution to the violent crimes indemnity fund (vcif) will not constitute a conviction under Rhode Island law.

However, anything with a fine attached to it will be a conviction under Rhode Island law. Therefore, it is important that the defendant gets either no fine or a contribution to the victims fund or court costs rather then a fine.

All misdeameanor plea agreements in Rhode lsland should be nolo contendere with court costs or a contribution towards the victims indemnity fund rather then guilty pleas!

Alfred Pleas

Alfred Pleas are strongly disfavored by judges in Rhode Island (RI) and are difficult to get. Alfred pleas derive from a United States Supreme Court case. In an Alfred plea, a defendant will admit that the state has sufficient evidence to convict him or her if the case went to trial but will not admit to anything.

DUI / Drunk Driving charges

In Rhode Island, any plea to drunk driving, driving under the influence, DUI/ DWI is a conviction under Rhode Island law. A breathalyzer refusal plea of guilty or “admitting to sufficient facts” is not a criminal conviction because a breathalyzer refusal is a civil case. For more information concerning Rhode Island drunk driving / dui and breathalyzer refusal law please see =>—DWI-Law-Should-I-Refuse-The-Breathalyzer?&id=486659

Guilty Finding after Trial and appeals de novo

If the defendant is found guilty after trial the sentence will constitute a conviction. If a person is found guilty at trial in district court they can appeal de novo (of new) to the Superior Court and the conviction will be erased and the case will essentially start all over again in the Superior Court.

Obviously, the defendants best result is either a dismissal by the prosecution or an acquittal.
A defendant has five days to file an appeal of a guilty finding after trial or appeal a plea agreement that he / she is unhappy with. In the Superior Court appeal, the defendant has a right to a trial by jury. Whereas, in The District Court a person waives their right to a trial by jury but in exchange for their waiver of their right to a trial by jury has the right to appeal any guilty finding de novo (of new) to the Superior Court. A person charged with a misdemeanor essentially has two bites of the apple so to speak. A defendant can attempt to win at a judge decided trial in District Court and then if they lose they can do it all over again with a jury trial in Superior Court.

What is a “filing” in Rhode Island?

A one year filing is usually only offered by the prosecutor as a penalty for first time offenders. A filing is a penalty that is typically offered for first time offenders for relatively minor misdemeanors. A filing is the lowest form of penalty available and is always better than probation for an accused. A filing is when the case is put aside for a year and if the person stays out of trouble for a year then the case is eligible to be expunged and destroyed at the end of the year.

Be careful, do not forget to have your filing expunged at the end of the year! It is not automatic. A certified copy of the expungement order must also be sent to the Rhode Island Attorney General ‘s office, the Rhode Island State Police and the local police department that pursued the criminal charge. In the event that a person is found guilty after trial, a person could still be sentenced to a one year filing. However, any guilty finding after trial will constitute a conviction. A guilty finding with a penalty of a filing should be appealed to avoid a conviction.

(Expungement is a process in which a person can have certain eligible Rhode Island criminal records expunged off there record. In order to obtain an expungement of a Rhode Island criminal record a person must file a motion to expunge. I strongly advise that you contact me or another Rhode Island criminal law attorney to determine whether a criminal record can be expunged.)

If a one year filing is offered by the prosecutor / city solicitor and is accepted then the case will be “filed” for a year. This is commonly called a “filing”. If the defendant does not get arrested or get in other trouble and complies with the conditions of the filing during the one year period then the case can be easily expunged from a person’s record after the year.

What types of filing are there in Rhode Island

There are two types of filings, not guilty filings and nolo contendere filings. A not Guilty filing is when the defendant maintains his innocence and the case if filed for a year. A not guilty filing is not usually allowed by Judges in the District Court! Not Guilty filings are extremely rare in the District Court. Some judges will not allow not guilty filings as a matter of policy. Not guilty filings are very beneficial to the defendant as the best case scenario short of a dismissal or not guilty finding because if the person is accused of a new crime or violating their filing the state will need to still prove their underlying case.

A nolo contendere filing is when the defendant admits to guilt and the case is filed for a year. The vast majority of filings are nolo contedere filings! A major difference between a not guilty filing and a nolo contendere filing is when a person is violated for a not guilty filing then the state / prosecution must prove guilt at that time. Whereas, if a person is violated for a nolo contendere filing, the judge simply must impose a sentence because the person has already admitted guilt to that offense.

If the person violates his filing by not complying with the conditions of the filing then the persons filing can be revoked by the Court. If a person takes a nolo contendere filing and gets into further trouble, violates the conditions of the filing or is arrested on a new offense then the person will be hailed back into court to be sentenced on the filing. (unless the filing was a not guilty filing which means the prosecution must prove the defendants guilt) There are various conditions that can be put on a filing inluding alcohol and drug counseling, domestic violence counseling or classes, restitution, no contact with the victim and community service.

A person that has a filing is subject to being held at the aci for 10 days as a violator of his filing if he is arrested for a new offense during the filing period.

What implications are there for domestic violence offenses in Rhode Island?

If the underlying charge is for a domestic offense such as domestic assault, vandalism, or domestic disorderly conduct then the defendant will be ordered to have no contact with his wife, girlfriend or the victim as the case may be.

Upon entering a plea or being found guilty of a crime with domestic implications then the defendant will be ordered to complete a batterers intervention program which involves attending classes. The defendant can also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim if applicable and obtain substance abuse or mental health counseling. Failure to attend the Batterers classes or failure to pay restitution or failure to attend counseling could be considered a violation of probation or a filing.

If the defendant violates the no contact order then the defendant will be charged with a separate offense of violating a no contact order as well as violating the conditions of the filing or probation, as a result of the communication.

The no contact order will remain in effect while the case is pending and during the period of any penalty or sentence. The no Contact order will expire if the case is dismissed. For example, a no contact order will stay in effect until any probationary period or suspended sentence is completed.

Rhode Island Family Court restraining orders

Be careful! There may be a separate restraining order that issued from Rhode Island Family Court as a result of a complaint protection from abuse in a divorce or family law matter. The Family Court has jurisdiction to issue restraining orders for up to three (3) years. The Family Court can issue restraining orders for persons who are married, are divorced, are family members or who have children in common as well as other jurisdiction set forth in the statute. There may also be a restraining order issued by a Court of another state or another Court

Violation of Family Court Complaint protection from Abuse restraining order is a crime in itself and also may constitute a violation of probation, bail and violation of conditions of a filing.

District Court Restraining orders:

There may also be a District Court restraining order from your (ex) boyfriend or girlfriend. The District Court has jurisdiction to issue restraining orders for persons who were or are in a dating relationship or who are roommates. Violation of a District Court restraining order is also a crime in itself. Violation of a District Court restraining order is also a violation of probation and a violation of the terms of bail and a violation of the conditions of a filing.

Superior Court Restraining orders:

Violation of A Superior Court restraining order is punishable by contempt proceedings which could result in confinement. However, violation of a Superior Court restraining order is not a crime in itself. Violation of a Superior Court Restraining order could be considered a violation of bail, probation or conditions of a filing.

Issues concerning custody and visitation of children as well as divorce and family related matters:

The District Court in a criminal case cannot be involved in setting vistitation or dealing with issues concerning divorce or custody of the minor children. The Rhode Island Family Court is the proper Forum for dealing with issues related to divorce and child custody such as: child support, visitation, financial restraining orders and issues concerning marital property, marital real estate and debt.

If your spouse or girlfriend or boyfriend is preventing you from visiting or talking to your child as a result of a criminal case or no contact order then you may need to file for divorce or a separate action for custody or visitation in Family Court.

The Family Court can set visitation and child support as part of a Complaint protection from abuse restraining order. In some instances when domestic violence is alleged or there are issues concerning alcohol, drug abuse or mental health then the Family Court may order supervised visitations. These Supervised visitations my occur at the Providence Family Court or may be supervised by a third party.

No Contact Orders in Rhode Island explained

A “no contact order” means that the defendant is precluded from having any contact and or communication with the victim or the person under the protection of the no contact order. This includes but is not limited to letters, emails, text messages or messages delivered through a third party.

In other words if a person is under a no contact order and sees the victim in public they must leave the area immediately and not acknowledge the victims existence. A person cannot even say “hi” if they walk by the victim by chance on the street.

Be very careful! A person can be arrested for violating a no contact order even if the victim initiates the contact and calls the defendant. A person can be charged with breaking a no contact order even if invited by his wife to come back to the marital home.

Even if the victim tells you that the no contact order has been dropped, do not take the victims word for it. You must see the piece of paper signed by the judge dismissing the no contact order before any contact or communication is initiated. A no contact order expires when the sentence period is finished. However, be careful because there may also be a restraining order issued as a reult of a divorce or family court matter or a District Court restraining order.

A person who is on probation or a probation attached to a suspended sentence must be even more vigilante in order to not violate the no contact order. For example, a single phone call made by the defendant to a victim under the protection of a no contact order probably means a minimum of ten 10 days in jail at the ACI. We are not talking about the local town jail but the ACI.

Violation of conditions of filing

Please note, that a person who has a filing can be held for up to ten days at the ACI if arrested for a new charge / crime. A person who is on a filing must be very careful that he / she stays out of trouble.

If the person is violated from the terms and conditions of the filing then hypothetically the filing could become a conviction because that person has already admitted to the charges by pleading nolo contendere and giving up his right to contest the charges. Court costs will be imposed if there is a nolo contendere filing in a criminal case.

Probation in Rhode Island

If a person receives probation then they will need to abide by the conditions of the probation and agree to keep the peace and be of good behavior. If a person violates his/ her probation by being arrested for a new crime then the person may be held in Jail at the ACI as a probation violator. After ten days a person has the right to a hearing. At the probation violation hearing, the prosecutor must only convince the judge so that the judge is “reasonably satisfied” that the person violated the probation by committing the new offense. Also the person will be prosecuted for the new offense as a separate charge from violating the probation. There is a good chance that if a person is violated for his probation that the probation which was originally not a conviction will now ripen into a conviction.

A probationary period is a time of great risk for a defendant and a defendant must be careful to stay out of trouble!

A person can also be violated for his probation for various infractions that may not be criminal acts but that violate the conditions of probation such as not keeping probation informed of new addresses, leaving the state without permission, not paying court costs or restitution, not properly reporting to the probation officer, etc. When a person is under probation in Rhode Island, he or she is essentially is in a contract with the state to keep the peace, be of good behavior and comply with the conditions and rules of probation.

What is a probation with a suspended sentence in Rhode Island?

If the charges are serious or the person has a lengthy criminal record of has already been placed on probation before then in addition to the probation, the judge may attach a suspended sentence. A person who has a suspended sentence is in a period of extreme risk because a new offense could lead to substantial jail time!

A suspended sentence is always a conviction under Rhode Island law. A person with probation and a suspended sentence attached will not spend anytime in prison unless the person violates the conditions of his probation as set forth above.

The period of the suspended sentence is the most time that a person could spend in prison if the person violates the conditions of the probation or commits a new offense. If the person violates the probation, the judge could sentence the person up to the amount of time that is suspended. Please note that the person could get additional sentence and or penalties as a result of the new charge. It is in the defendants best interest to have the period of suspended sentence to be as short as possible. The suspended sentence typically is for the same amount of time as the period of probation.

Please note that if the offense is driving on a suspended license there are special rules that apply that are set forth in the statutes.

Most prosecutors and judges believe that each sentence should be more severe then the last. A person’s first minor offense is likely to lead to only a filing which is the lowest form of penalty in Rhode Island. A person usually will only be allowed one filing.

Could I be incarcerated at the aci or serve time in jail as a result of a misdemeanor charge?

Yes. A serious misdemeanor could lead to incarceration at the Adult Correctional Institution (ACI). The Vast majority of misdemeanor cases do not result in a sentence of incarceration! A habitual offender could eventually face jail time. A person convicted of a second or third offense dui / dwi faces a minimum mandatory sentence to the ACI . A person with a probation violation or suspended sentence could face incarceration depending on the circumstances. In a Misdemeanor District Court case the Court only has jurisdiction to sentence a person to a year in jail. In some instances a person might qualify for Home confinement in lieu of a sentence at the ACI.

Please be advised that there are different considerations related to Felony criminal charges which are not addressed in this article including but not limited to deferred sentences. Please consult the Rhode Island Public Defender’s website for information related to felony charges and for an explanation of a Deferred sentence.

How Do People Select Rhode Island Divorce Attorneys to Interview?

Let’s face it. Rhode Island lawyers and lawyers in general are officers of the court. We’re supposed to be servants of the public. Yet at the same same we’re independent practitioners and we we’ve got a job to do and money to bring in through our private practice or we don’t survive.

It’s no wonder Rhode Island Lawyers are viewed with skepticism and even cynicism, especially when it’s time to hire one and you’re not sure who to hire or what to do. Here you are, you have a legal issue that needs to be addressed and you take the time to try to identify an attorney who will meet your needs.

It’s easy for questions to surface as to whether the attorney you’re interviewing is looking out for your best interests or simply looking out for his or her own interests and making some money to put food on his or her own table. It is, in fact, appropriate for you to question the attorney’s motives. The best time to do that is at the time you interview the attorney.

You should know that when you set up an appointment to see an attorney, YOU are interviewing the attorney just as much as the attorney is interviewing YOU.

So how do people generally go about choosing an attorney?

1) A referral from a friend or family member.

This is a good source of referrals for the attorney, but is the attorney right for YOU? What did the attorney do for that friend or family member who made the referral? Did the attorney settle a personal injury case? That’s not going to do you much good if you need someone for a family law matter. If your referral isn’t to an attorney that regularly practices in the area of law you need and it isn’t from a person who used those same type of family law services then the referral is “empty”, in other words a referral should be better than just hunting around in the yellow pages. It should provide some valuable reassurance that the attorney you’ve been referred to, can and has already provided valuable an competent services to the person who is making the referral to you, and that those services are in the area of law that you need help with. Without that criteria, the referral is “Empty”.

2) An advertisement in the yellow pages.

This is of course an even less effective way to select a suitable lawyer to interview than the referral from a friend or family member who did not use the attorney for the same type of legal services that you are in need of. When you just select attorneys out of the yellow pages you will most likely do like everyone else does. You select the attorney based on the advertisement itself, particularly its size and its wording. Unfortunately neither of these are indicators that the attorney is competent or will serve you well in the area of law you are in need of. Imagine that you are in need of a divorce attorney and you select the attorney’s advertisement that is the largest and includes the words “Estates”, “Personal Injury Cases”, and Divorces, etc… with 15 years in practice”.

First, that advertisement probably cost quite a bit since even small advertisements in the yellow pages run $3,000 to $5,000 a year. From there you can take a guess who has to pay for just that single marketing ad. That’s right…that attorney’s clients. You can almost certainly plan to pay more for an attorney with a decent sized yellow page ad. Conversely, that attorney might be worth it if you select just the right one.

Second, the “15 years in practice” tells you one of two things. Either that you are going to pay more for those years of experience or that he has been doing “something” law-related for 15 years. I know attorneys who have been in practice for 20 years and have handled perhaps 10 divorces in that amount of time. By the same token the advertisement above wouldn’t seem as impressive if you knew that the attorney only handled 4 divorces within his 15 years of practice. That might not want to be the attorney you want to represent you if you need a Rhode Island Divorce attorney and complex divorce issues regarding pensions, alimony and tax consequences on the sale of a home come into play.

3) Search for the kind of Rhode Island lawyer you want on the internet.

This is becoming more and more the method of searching for attorneys in the technoliterate sector of society. Those who choose this method of searching can go to or another search site of their choice and type in the various terms they want to search on. Searchers can also vary their search terms if the results do not suit them. The main benefit to searching the internet to find Rhode Island attorneys to interview is the third party nature of the ranking system. In a search system such as, the primary listings are ranked by criteria that are not controlled by attorney. It is Google’s system that analyzes the attorney’s websites and/or pages and determines from there whether the attorney’s website matches the criteria you are looking for. In this way you are getting an unbiased selection of attorney websites to review.

Secondarily, if you are searching on the internet for an attorney, you will know if the attorney has a website or not. This will at least give you some indication that the attorney has kept up with technology. If he or she has done so then if it is important to be able to communicate with your attorney by email this may be a factor in your decision to interview that particular attorney. The information on the website of the attorney is also likely to be the most focused regarding what his or her primary practice areas. In some instances the attorney’s website will provide the most valuable information about the attorney in order to decide which attorneys to interview.

Rhode Island Divorce – Guardian Ad Litems for Adults

Appointing a guardian ad litem for adults in Rhode Island divorce cases isn’t very common but it does occur. Typically a guardian ad litem is an attorney (though the guidelines have changed recently to include non-lawyers particularly experienced and trained in dealing with people and issues requiring a guardian’s skills) appointed by the court to represent the “best interests” of the individual and to make recommendations to the court as to what is in the person’s best interests.

Now I put “best interests” in quotes because it is significantly different from simply representing the individual.

When an attorney or other person represents an individual they generally speak for that individual and advocate for exactly what that person wants. That is not what a guardian ad litem does.

Using appropriate factors the guardian ad litem uses his or her judgment to review he circumstances, speak with the individual, look at the case, review pertinent case law, perhaps even review medical records and ultimately recommend to the court what should be done in the “best interests” of the person that they are appointed to be the guardian for. This is true even if the recommendations to the court are entirely contrary to what the individual wants done.

Thus, if John and Sarah are in a divorce and Sarah has a multiple personality disorder and goes back and forth between wanting one day of visitation with her children per week or 2 overnights and 3 full weekends per month for her visitation then the court might determine that Sarah, even with the assistance of her lawyer might not be in a correct state of mind to make the best decision for herself and for her children.

As a result, a judge may order that either Sarah, her children or both… have Guardian Ad Litems appointed for that proceeding.

Assume for a moment that Sarah has a guardian appointed and that the guardian for Sarah, after reviewing all the evidence in her Rhode Island divorce case, her medical records, etc…. that it would, in fact, be best that she see her children more often, yet the guardian finds that Sarah has not been taking her prescribed medication to keep her condition under control and has missed over half of her counseling appointments.

Sarah’s guardian ad litem may recommend to the court that Sarah have only one visit per week with her children until she shows that she can take her medicine and attend counseling on a regular basis to promote Sarah to make more progress for herself and for the benefit of a healthier relationship with her children. This could very well be against Sarah’s outrage and protests.

It is important to understand that in a Rhode Island Divorce proceeding, a Guardian Ad Litem represents the best interests of the person they are appointed to serve. This does not mean they serve at the whim of the client or that they must do what the person they are appointed to represent controls their actions or the position they take.

A lawyer represents the client’s interests and follows the client’s directions within the reasonable direction of the client.

A guardian ad litem appointed by the court (or ever privately) represents the “best interests” of the person (s) they are appointed for, even if their advice, recommendation or counsel to the court is against the wishes of the person they have been appointed to represent.

Rhode Island Litigation- Lawsuit FAQS Written By a Rhode Island (RI) Attorney RE- RI LAW

1) I believe that I have been wronged by another individual or entity, what should I do next?

You should contact an attorney promptly. One reason is that you will not run the risk of having your claim barred by the statute of limitations. Also, your recollection of the events is crucial and as time goes by your memory may fade.

2) How do I commence a civil lawsuit in Rhode island?

A civil lawsuit is commenced when a plaintiff serves a Complaint and a Summons upon the defendant. The complaint is the legal document that sets forth the alleged misconduct by the defendant. The summons is the legal document that directs the defendant to appear before
the court.

3) What should I do if I am served with a Summons and Complaint in a Rhode Island lawsuit?

You should seek the advice of a Rhode island attorney immediately. As the summons instructs, you only have twenty (20) days in which to respond to the Complaint. If the 20 days period passes, the defendant will be in default and lose the case. The response to the Complaint is called an Answer. This legal document sets forth the defendants defenses and counterclaims against
the plaintiff.

4) How much will it cost to hire an attorney?

Every lawyer is free to set his own billing method. There are many different types of billing methods: An attorney might choose a contingent fee, where you only pay the attorney if you win the case, or may offer a flat one time fee or may simply bill hourly. Usually the attorney will determine which method is best by the type of litigation in question. Slepkow, Slepkow & Associates never charges any fee in a personal injury case unless successful.

5) How long before the lawsuit will be finished?

It depends. After the pleadings (Complaint and Answer) have been served, there is a discovery process. This is the period when the parties obtain all of the facts of the case. The length of this process depends on the complexity of the case. The overwhelming majority of cases are settled long before trial.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) By Tenants About Landlord-Tenant Law in Rhode Island

This article contains information answers to questions about Rhode Island Landlord/Tenant Law. The information in this article is more directed towards questions posed by Tenants. Below are some of the more common questions asked by Tenants.

Can my Landlord come into my apartment whenever he/she wants?

No. Except for certain circumstances, a Landlord must provide at least two (2) notice to enter into your apartment and may only request to enter at reasonable times. The Tenant, on the other hand, may not unreasonably withhold your consent to the Landlord entering the apartment. Examples of permissible reasons for the Landlord to enter the apartment are: “to inspect the premises, make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors.” RIGL 34-18-36. A Landlord may enter the apartment without permission in the event of an emergency, or or, during any absence of the tenant in excess of seven (7) days, if reasonably necessary for the protection of the property.

After I leave the apartment, what happens to my security deposit?

After termination of the tenancy, the Tenant is entitled to a return of the full security deposit, less any unpaid rent and less any damage to the rental property, other than wear and tear. If the landlord returns the security deposit with reductions for rent or damages, the Landlord is required to provide notice in the form of an itemization of the reductions to the security deposit. The Landlord must send the notice and itemization “within twenty (20) days after the later of either termination of the tenancy, delivery of possession, or the tenant’s providing the landlord with a forwarding address for the purpose of receiving the security deposit. If the Landlord fails to comply with this requirement, there are potentially stiff penalties. Consult an attorney for further information.

I have received the summons for the court hearing but am planning on leaving any way. Should I still attend the hearing?

Yes, you should attend. By attending the hearing, you ensure that you will have full notice of your legal rights. Additionally, by attending the hearing, you may be able to negotiate with the attorney representing the landlord, thus improving your social/financial situation.

What happens if my apartment is damaged by fire, flood, or something else that prevents me from living in the apartment?

A Tenant has several options in this situation. The tenant may terminate the rental agreement with the landlord by vacating the apartment and notifying the landlord, in writing, the the Tenant wants to terminate the rental agreement due to the condition of the apartment. If only a portion of the apartment is damaged, the Tenant may continue to occupy the undamaged portion of the apartment and reduce that amount of rent due “in proportion to the diminution in the fair rental value of the dwelling unit.” RIGL 34-18-34. The law provides additional provisions regarding prepaid rent and security deposits if this situation occurs.

What if after I provided my old landlord with a security deposit, the old landlord transferred the property to a new landlord, and now the new landlord is claiming that I never provided a security deposit?

If you provided a security deposit to the old landlord, by law, the security deposit was transferred to the current landlord upon his/her acquisition of the rental property. The regular law with respect to security deposits applies.

If I do not have a signed lease agreement, can my landlord raise my rent whenever he or she chooses?

Yes, provided the Landlord follows that Rhode Island General Laws. The Landlord must provide notice in writing to a tenant of a proposed rent increase at least thirty (30) days in advance of the date that the rent increase will become effective. If the Tenant is sixty (62) years old, then the Landlord must provide notice at least sixty (60) days in advance.

Slepkow, Slepkow, & Associates has prepared the materials contained on this website for information purposes only. This information concerns Rhode Island law only and should not be construed as legal advice. No one should rely on any of the information or advice contained on this website without obtaining legal counsel. Slepkow, Slepkow, & Associates is not responsible for any material contained on those sites to which we have linked. The Rhode Island Supreme Court and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court license their respective lawyers in the general practice of law. These courts do not license or certify any lawyer as an expert or specialist in any field of practice.