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Capital Felony in Rhode Island 

Capital Felony in Rhode Island 

A capital felony criminal charge in Rhode Island is the most serious criminal offense known to the law. Those charged with a capital felony criminal charge in Rhode Island need to contact an experienced Rhode Island criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

What is a capital felony?

When learning of the two different categories of criminal offenses, you may know that a misdemeanor is widely considered a minor crime whereas a felony is a major or more serious crime. A capital felony is the most severe criminal charge, someone, under the law, as they are punishable by life imprisonment. 

Examples of capital felonies include:

  • Kidnapping
  • Arson
  • Burglary
  • first-degree sexual assault
  • first-degree robbery
  • first-degree child molestation
  • Murder
  • some drug trafficking crimes

What are the penalties for a capital felony?

A capital felony, by definition, is a felony crime punishable by up to life imprisonment or the death penalty.  Rhode Island does not recognize the death penalty.   Therefore, upon conviction for a capital felony offense, a defendant faces the possible punishment of life imprisonment. 

Judges deciding on potential penalties for a defendant convicted of a capital felony in Rhode Island will consider many factors such as the defendant’s personal background and characteristics such as education level, employment history, mental health history, physical disabilities, substance abuse history, immigration status, family background and circumstances, military history and more.   

Judges will also consider the defendant’s criminal history (if any), acceptance of responsibility, remorse towards the victim, and the impact on the victim(s) by the crime. All of these factors will impact the duration and other terms of a sentence imposed for a capital felony conviction.

Will you go to jail if convicted of a capital felony? 

Time in prison is a direct consequence of being found guilty of a capital felony. Rhode Island abolished the death penalty in 1984, so this form of punishment is no longer an option for those convicted of a capital felony. 

However, life in prison is a potential punishment for capital felony convictions. While the law recognizes alternative penalties to jail time, such as community service, treatment programs, fines, probation, and suspected sentences, the vast majority of offenders who are convicted of a capital felony will face a punishment of actual time in prison, which may be any terms of years up to and including life imprisonment. 

What court handles capital felonies?

All felony charges, including capital felonies in Rhode Island, are handled in Rhode Island Superior Court.  Because Rhode Island is a state comprised of four counties, there are four individual Superior Courts: Providence County Superior Court, Kent County Superior Court, Washington County Superior Court, and Newport County Superior Court.  Felony charges may be filed in the Superior Court in one of two ways. 

  1. The first is the criminal information process, where the prosecutor’s office filed criminal charges that it has reviewed for legal sufficiency and the existence of probable case.   
  2. The second way to file felony charges in Superior Court, and the only way capital felonies are charged is via the indictment process. There is when the prosecution presents its evidence to a grand jury to review and determine if there’s probable cause to support the charge.  If so, the grand jury returns an indictment. 

What is the max jail sentence if convicted of a capital felony in Rhode Island?

Under Rhode Island law, the maximum potential sentence for a capital felony conviction in Rhode Island is life imprisonment. If you or someone you know has been charged with a capital felony, their freedom or liberty is almost always in jeopardy. A capital felony is a criminal charge that should be taken lightly under any circumstances. Contact a Rhode Island capital felony attorney as soon as possible if you suspect you are under investigation or have been charged with a capital felony. 

Should I hire an attorney to defend my case?

If you are charged with any crime, and most especially a capital felon, hiring an experienced Rhode Island criminal defense attorney is your best chance for a successful outcome. Because capital felonies are the most serious crimes known to the law, the prosecution will not hesitate to seek against those accused harsh punishments. 

There is no question that facing a capital felony charge can be a terrifying experience, especially for a first-time offender. A Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the extent of your charges and guide you through each step of the criminal justice process. A skilled capital felony defense lawyer will be able to present options and explore your case with a fresh perspective. 

What are the possible defenses?

The defense strategy that your Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer formulates will depend on your specific charges and the surrounding circumstances. Each charge needs to be thoroughly examined, investigated, and analyzed before developing a criminal defense.  No two cases or capital felony charges are the same, so it is crucial for your lawyer to explore every inch of your case to create a unique, aggressive, and powerful defense strategy. 

How do I find a lawyer with experience defending capital cases in Rhode Island?

The Law Office of John L. Calcagni III is open 24 hours a day, seven days per week. Do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of John L. Calcagni, III immediately after becoming aware of a capital felony charge.  With an extensive list of five-star reviews and unmatched experience in his field, it is easy to see that John L. Calcagni III is a top-rated Rhode Island Criminal Defense Lawter.   Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your options.