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District Court Unit

The District Court Unit in Providence County prosecutes a multitude of criminal matters brought forward in the 6th Division District Court and the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal. Each day, District Court Unit prosecutors are responsible for conducting bail hearings on capital cases and enumerated drug delivery offenses, hearings to which any defendant who is held without bail is entitled, according to the Rhode Island General Laws and Article 1 Section 9 of the Rhode Island Constitution.

Statewide, there were a total of 5,525 matters handled by the District Court Unit: 4,195 at the District Court level and 1,330 matters at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.

Unit prosecutors also regularly handle cases against defendants accused of violating the terms and conditions of either their bail on an existing case or of a pending sentence of probation or suspended time. Additionally, Unit prosecutors handle motions to expunge, motions to reduce and/or modify bail and bail conditions, motions to vacate no-contact orders, applications for post-conviction relief and waivers of information for certain felony offenses on a daily basis.

The Department of Attorney General has exclusive authority to prosecute every charge of breathalyzer refusal brought under Rhode Island General Law §31-27-2.1. The District Court Unit prosecutes all breathalyzer-refusal cases at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.

In 2012, Unit attorneys made a total of 1,330 pretrial and trial appearances at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal, up from 1,107 in 2011. Further, Unit prosecutors handle any appeal of a Tribunal decision both before the Tribunal Appeals panel and subsequently before a Judge of the District Court.

The District Court Unit prosecutes pretrial and trial matters brought by various state law enforcement agencies throughout Rhode Island, primarily the Rhode Island State Police. In addition, Unit prosecutors handle all criminal cases referred by the state Contractors Registration and Licensing Board and from the Department of Labor and Training.

The District Courts traditionally are the busiest courts in the judicial system. In 2012, the Providence County District Court Unit chief and four attorneys handled 1,833 cases.

The Unit represented various state and local law enforcement agencies in 288 bail hearings, 779 probation violation hearings, 288 bail violation hearings, 552 pretrial conferences, 116 fugitive matters, 32 competency hearings, 35 Contractors Registration & Licensing Board (CRLB) presentments and an additional 31 matters.

District Court prosecutors assigned to each of the County offices also heard matters before the District Court: in the 2 nd Division District Court, a Newport County prosecutor handled 349 matters; in Kent County, in the 3 rd Division, prosecutors handled 1,460 matters; and in the 4 th Division at Washington County, District Court prosecutors handled 553 matters, including bail hearings, probation and bail violation hearings, pretrial conferences and trials.

Statewide, in 2012, there were a total of 5,525 matters handled by the District Court Unit: 4,195 at the District Court level and 1,330 matters at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.