This past June, the Rhode Island Supreme Court approved changes to the court rules that govern probation sentences. Many in the defense and criminal-civil-rights communities believe this to be the first successful step to reform a “broken” probation and parole court system. Over the years, there have been several bills related to this matter that have failed to make their way through the legislature. Recently, due to ongoing pressure by the Rhode Island Public Defender’s Office, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Rhode Island Justice Reinvestment Working Group, the court decided to address the issue again. It is expected that further progress will be made in reforming the Rhode Island probation and parole system. You should contact your criminal defense attorney for any further action your attorney may bring on your behalf.
One major change made during the current probation reformation is the cap term period put in place for non-violent offender’s probation. After this reformation, the cap is now three years. If a judge is to exceed three years in the sentencing of probation, the reform adds that the judge is required to justify his reasoning for making the sentence greater than the three year cap.
Another noteworthy area of probation reform stipulates that the state, or prosecutors, must show “by a preponderance of the evidence” that the defendant has violated their probation. This means that a majority of the evidence brought to the attention of the court must show the defendant actually violated their probation.
In 2013, prior to the reform, Rhode Island had the third-highest probation rate in the United States, with more than 2,700 people on probation per 100,000 adults. Even more staggering, in 2014, one in 44 adult residents were on probation supervision in Rhode Island.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of being on probation, knowing that the term is now capped at three years can help reduce the prior stress brought on by being unaware of the maximum amount of time you could potentially spend on probation. Further, if you are currently completing a sentence of probation greater than three years, your case may be eligible for review by a judge to determine whether you qualify for a reduced sentence. It is important you speak with your criminal defense attorney who can help you further these actions.
Attorney Craig Hein has been successful in defending those who have been criminally accused. Craig’s style is both aggressive and steadfast. From your first conversation with him, you will realize both his capability in the court room and ability to alleviate much of your stress. Craig has made a living out of turning problems into solutions and does not rest until he does everything possible to achieve a desirable outcome. For a free consultation please call 401-619-7214.