Under Rhode Island criminal law and criminal procedure, a person charged with a crime in Rhode Island has a general right to be released on bail. When a defendant is initially arrested on new criminal charges, he or she will make an initial appearance in court for an arraignment. At arraignment, the Court will formally notify the defendant of the charge(s), often call for a plea of not guilty, ensure the defendant has legal representation, and lastly, decide the issue of bail.
With regard to bail, the Court will decide whether to release the defendant on his promise to return to court in the future, order that he or she remain held without bail, or something in between. The primary purpose of bail is to secure a criminal defendant’s presence at future court proceedings, to include trial.
Types of bail
Under Rhode Island criminal law and criminal procedure, there are main types of bail:
- personal recognizance
- surety bail
Personal recognizance refers to a defendant’s release solely on his or her promise to appear before the court in the future, as directed.
Surety bail requires a defendant to post a sum of money, in support of a bond, in order to be released. This is a bond system whereby defendants admitted to bail must either post 10% of the posted bond with the court, to be returned upon conclusion of the case, or pay 5% of the surety bail to a bail bondsman who will assist him or her with securing release on bail.
Conditions of bail
Regardless of the type of bail set by the Court, there are also conditions of bail that may impose if it believes such are necessary to ensure both the defendant’s future court appearances and community safety. The defendant must obey these conditions while released.
Special conditions of bail may include but are not limited to:
- attendance of counseling,
- abiding by no-contact and/or no trespass orders,
- drug and/or alcohol screening, attendance of substance abuse treatment,
- home confinement,
- electronic or GPS monitoring,
- maintaining employment,
- travel restrictions,
- limitations on the internet use,
- prohibitions on having contact with children,
- surrendering and abstention from possessing firearms and/or ammunition,
- and supervision monitoring by pretrial services.
A standard condition of any bail is that the defendant must keep the peace and remain of good behavior, which means, do not get re-arrested.
Once bail conditions are set by the Court, they remain in full force and effect throughout the pendency of a criminal case and may only be modified with permission of the Court.
Under Rhode Island criminal law and criminal procedure, failure to comply with a condition of bail is called a bail violation. Bail violations are governed by Rhode Island Rule of Criminal Procedure 46 (g).
A notice of bail violation is filed by the prosecution with the court where there is reason to believe a defendant has failed to comply with a condition of bail. The decision to file notice of a bail violation is discretionary, and not mandatory.
However, this occurs very often where a defendant is either charged with a new offense or repeatedly fails to comply with special conditions of bail that were previously imposed by the Court.
When a notice of bail violation is filed, the defendant and his/or her attorney must be served with both the notice itself and the basis for the notice.
Upon being presented before the court as a bail violator, the court may re-release the defendant subject to a bail violation hearing, or order the defendant detained pending the outcome of this hearing.
A defendant accused of violating bail is entitled to a bail violation hearing within ten (10) business days or two weeks. Bail violation hearings may occur earlier, if circumstances allow, or may be continued to a later date at the request of either the prosecution or the defense.
Bail violation hearing
A bail violation hearing is conducted by the Court to determine whether the defendant violated a condition of his bail. The prosecution has the burden of proving that the defendant failed to comply with one or more bail conditions. This may include special conditions set by the Court or the standard condition of failing to keep the peace and remaining of good behavior.
Upon receiving notice of violation, the defendant may either admit to violating the condition(s) of bail or proceed to a full hearing. If the defendant elects to admit violation, this may be either with or without an agreement between the parties regarding the punishment to be imposed for the violation – typically a short term to serve at the ACI not to exceed 90 days.
If a defendant elects to proceed to a bail violation hearing, his or her rights are less than at trial. A bail violation hearing is a civil proceeding. The prosecution is not required to prove the alleged violation beyond a reasonable doubt.
Rather, the burden is by a preponderance of evidence, which means more likely than not. While the defendant is entitled to testify, present evidence and witnesses on his or her own behalf, and cross-examine witnesses called by the prosecution.
The rules of evidence and admissibility are also relaxed. The Court may consider types of evidence that otherwise may be inadmissible at a trial, such as physical evidence obtained from an alleged unlawful search and/or an unlawful confession obtained in violation of the constitution.
After the presentation of evidence at a bail violation hearing, the parties will be given the chance to present arguments for and against the finding of a violation.
Punishment for a bail violation
Under Rhode Island criminal law and procedure, if the Court, after the hearing or upon the defendant’s admission, is satisfied that he or she did not keep the peace or remain of good behavior, it may revoke bail for up to ninety (90) days, increase the bail amount, set alternative and more stringent conditions, or any combination thereof.
Furthermore, upon a motion by the prosecution, the Court may in its discretion order forfeiture of the bond originally posted by defendant used to secure release on bail.
Contact Rhode Island bail violations attorney John L. Calcagni, III
For more information on bail, contact Rhode Island bail violations attorney John L. Calcagni, III.