Most U.S. states have multiple judicial districts, each headed by a District Attorney or "D.A." (also called "State's Attorneys," "County Attorneys," or simply "Prosecutors"). The D.A. files criminal charges within their respective district on behalf of the state. Some states have a D.A.'s office for each county, while others have districts made up of several counties.
However, Rhode Island is unique in that the Attorney General's office prosecutes all crimes within the state. This is primarily due to the small geographical area of Rhode Island, which has just five counties and is less than half the size of Delaware, which is the second-smallest state in terms of square footage.
So if you're looking for information about your local Rhode Island District Attorney, you'll want to search for the Attorney General instead. This article focuses on how crimes are prosecuted in the state of Rhode Island, including links to helpful resources.
Rhode Island Attorney General's Office: Basics
Because there are no D.A.s in Rhode Island, the state's Attorney General's Office handles all prosecutorial duties within the state. As in all other states, the Attorney General (or "A.G.") is elected and holds the highest prosecutorial position in the state. The A.G. prosecutes all felony cases and misdemeanor appeals.
Other duties include representation of Rhode Island (and its other agencies) in matters of litigation; the initiation of legal actions to protect state residents (such as lawsuits to protect aggrieved consumers); and management of the state's Bureau of Criminal Identification.
Being Charged With a Crime in Rhode Island: What to Expect
If you've been arrested for a felony offense, the first step is an appearance before a district court judge to set bail (or to release you on your own recognizance). Meanwhile, the Attorney General's office will determine whether there's enough probable cause to formally charge you with a felony (they have as many as six months to make this decision).
If charges are filed, you'll be arraigned at court; you'll enter a formal plea and, if you plead "not guilty," your pre-trial conference will be scheduled. At this meeting, your attorney and the state's attorney assigned to the case will review the evidence. If there's no resolution before trial (such as a plea deal), then your case will be scheduled for trial.
If you're arrested for a misdemeanor, you'll also be processed at the police station but not subject to detainment. The rest of the process is similar to that of a felony charge.
Rhode Island Criminal Cases: Related Resources
If you're facing criminal charges in Rhode Island, you'll want to prepare for your case and become familiar with the criminal justice system. The following resources will help you in that endeavor:
Get Professional Legal Help With Your Rhode Island Criminal Case
Although Rhode Island District Attorneys don't actually exist, crimes are of course still prosecuted in the state. If you're on the wrong side of the law and facing charges, it's in your best interests to work with a legal professional. Get started today and contact an experienced Rhode Island criminal defense attorney.