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Criminal Division

The Attorney General of the State of Rhode Island is charged with the responsibility of prosecuting all felony criminal offenses occurring in the State of Rhode Island, all misdemeanor criminal cases brought by State law enforcement agencies, and all misdemeanor cases appealed to the Superior Court.

The Criminal Division is comprised of 148.1 staff members, consisting of prosecutors, paralegals, secretaries, victim advocates, investigators and financial auditors. These individuals work together to assist the Attorney General in fulfilling his Constitutional obligations. Cases are prosecuted by attorneys assigned to the general criminal trial calendar and through specialized units focusing on white-collar crime, narcotics and organized crime, gangs, firearms offenses, juvenile offenders, domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, Medicaid fraud, elder abuse and traffic safety.

The Criminal Division works closely with local law enforcement, assigning Superior Court prosecutors to act as liaisons to each of the forty-four law enforcement agencies in the State in order to provide legal assistance, and with our federal partners making joint decisions on which office should assert jurisdiction where both state and federal charges are viable.

In 2013, the Office was fortunate to be allocated an attorney from the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training to handle the review and prosecution of unemployment insurance fraud, workers’ compensation fraud, prevailing wage, and payment of wages cases.

The Criminal Division works closely with local law enforcement, assigning Superior Court prosecutors to act as liaisons to each of the forty-four law enforcement agencies in the State in order to provide legal assistance, and with our federal partners making joint decisions on which office should assert jurisdiction where both state and federal charges are viable.

Prosecutors are available to law enforcement 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist in serious matters or complex investigations. During the weekends and holidays, prosecutors rotate coverage to handle the presentation of violations of probation and bail. In 2013, prosecutors logged over 500 uncompensated hours in weekend duty alone, providing coverage for all areas of the State. In addition, prosecutors and support staff consistently worked beyond their 35-hour work-weeks, ensuring court calendars were completed, witnesses were interviewed and cases were well prepared for trial.

Altogether, members of the Criminal Division documented nearly 12,200 uncompensated hours in 2013.

The volume of cases handled by the prosecutors in the criminal division is staggering. Intake Unit prosecutors in Providence County reviewed cases for felony screening and grand jury presentations and negotiated case dispositions through the pre-arraignment calendar. Prosecutors assigned to the trial calendars and specialized units focused on trial preparation, handling cases from the pretrial stage through to disposition. A county prosecutor traveled to each of the county offices to handle felony screenings for Kent, Newport and Washington Counties, and Statewide Grand Jury presentations were handled by various prosecutors throughout the Division.

In 2013, the Providence Intake Unit reviewed a total of 4,446 packages, ensuring there was sufficient evidence to go forward in the Superior Court. The screening prosecutor reviewed 4,139 packages for information charging and in grand jury; prosecutors reviewed 307 packages for presentment to the Providence County Grand Jury. In total, the Providence County Intake Unit charged 3,150 cases and 162 indictments were issued by the Providence County Grand Jury.

The County offices also screened 1,695 felony packages for charging, representing an increase of more than 400 cases screened over the previous year. Statewide, the Office of Attorney General proceeded to file Criminal Informations and Indictments with the Superior Courts in 5,417 felony cases. Division prosecutors disposed of 5,197 felonies and 230 misdemeanors statewide, with 4,728, or 87 percent, disposed by plea agreements.

Prosecutors handled 95 new applications for Post Conviction Relief with decisions being reached in 75 pending matters. The Appellate Division enjoyed tremendous success again this past year, prevailing in approximately 90 percent of its total Rhode Island Supreme Court case docket. The Appellate Unit submitted 86 pre-briefing statements, full briefs, and miscellaneous filings to the State Supreme Court, filed 12 motions to dismiss in the United States District Court and one full brief to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

The year 2013 continued to be a year of development for the Criminal Division in terms of technology with the ongoing implementation and improvement of the Department’s Case Management System (CMS). The system was designed and developed to allow for the more efficient management of cases, allowing administrators to track the caseloads of prosecutors, the length of pending cases, the turnover of prosecutor cases, disposition and dismissal rates, and to allow management to run reports with ease. The CMS also allows for the digital replication of criminal files, promoting more efficient record keeping, online access to files for permitted users, and a backup file system. Furthermore, the system enables prosecutors to easily cross reference defendants in criminal cases, witnesses in criminal cases and track gang activity.

The Criminal Division continued to defend leveling decisions of the Sex Offender Board of Review against sex offenders who appeal their Level 2 or 3 risk assessment to reoffend. In 2013, the Court affirmed 20 appeals, reversing only six, of the 51 filings, with 25 pending at the end of the calendar year.

In 2013, the Criminal Division continued its commitment to veterans. Since taking office, Attorney General Kilmartin has dedicated office resources to a specialized Veterans Court calendar in Kent County District Court. The program, formally known as The Alternative to Sentencing and Trauma Recovery in Rhode Island - Focus on Veterans (ASTR RI), began referrals to the District Court in April of 2011. During 2013, more than 90 referrals were made to the program with approximately 70 cases being accepted. In addition, 40 individuals successfully completed the program. The focus of the Court is to provide wrap-around services to the offender, who suffered some service-related trauma which has likely contributed to the individual’s involvement in the criminal justice system. Mental health, alcohol and drug addiction, homelessness and other issues related to an individual’s military service are addressed in this court, with the goal of rehabilitation and diversion from incarceration or other criminal consequence.

Another accomplishment for the Criminal Division was the reallocation of resources to arson prosecution, and in particular the Division of the State Fire Marshal. The Criminal Division has redirected prosecutorial resources to the Fire Marshal and has employed an arson prosecutor who has experience as a firefighter. Like any prosecution liaison, the arson prosecutor responds to the scene in many cases, to provide his specialized knowledge and assistance in the drafting of search warrants.

The Criminal Division sat on two legislative commissions: the Special Senate Commission to Undertake a Comprehensive Study of Sex Offender Registration and Notification in the State of Rhode Island, the purpose of which to study Rhode Island’s compliance with the Federal Adam Walsh Act, and the Behavior Health and Firearms Safety Task Force, the purpose of which is to study mental health law and weapons and make recommendations, if and to what level, Rhode Island should comply with the mental health and substance abuse requirements of the NICS Database.