Rhode Island Injury Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

I’ve previously spoken on this blog about how Facebook and social media can affect your personal injury claim and/or lawsuit.  It is well established that insurance companies and defense attorneys will examine your Facebook profile if it is open to the public.  They will use anything to their advantage to discredit you or your case.  Examples of ways in which your social media can effect and harm your personal injury claim:

  • Pictures or descriptions of yourself going to the gym or for a jog while claiming disability (even if it is rehab and stretching exercises, it looks bad);
  • Pictures or descriptions of yourself doing work (even if unpaid) while making a claim for lost wages or loss of earning capacity (for instance, helping a friend move or doing remodeling work on your home);

This blog has been very very good to me and helped build my business when I left Boston four years ago, but alas, it has been long ignored. Not by intent but merely because we have been too busy during an exceptional period of growth. Starting today, however, I vow to return to the multiple postings per week that generated a lot of buzz and helped bring in many of my clients.

Here are just a few of the things we have been up to in the few months since my last post:

Expungement allows a person with a criminal record, under certain circumstances, to have his or her criminal record permanently deleted. This is an incredible tool and is useful for someone applying for college, applying for new jobs, looking to join the army or other branch of the military, or who just wants to keep the public out of their past. An article in the Providence Journal yesterday reported that the number of criminal records expunged jumped 36 percent in 2012. Last year, 269 felonies and 3,929 misdemeanors were expunged and erased from the public record. This was a jump from 3,091 total expungements completed in 2011.

Today, it is reported that Attorney General Kilmartin is proposing newer easier restrictions to allow for more expungements. His proposal asks that any person who has never committed a felony and has stayed out of trouble be allowed to expunge up to five misdemeanors as opposed to the current one misdemeanor allowed. The law would not apply to domestic violence crimes or DUIs. Rhode Island law, as it stands, has a “one bite at the apple” approach. A single misdemeanor can be expunged after five years without further offense and a single felony can be expunged after ten years without further arrest. The increased opportunity for expungement is meant to assist those who made bad decisions or indiscretions in their youth but have since changed and improved their life for the better.

If you have waited the appropriate amount of time after your previous crime and the conviction was not for an act of violence, you may qualify for an expungement. My office will file the paperwork and appear at the motion on your behalf. The total fee for this service is only $500 which includes the $100 fee payable to the Courts if your expungement is approved. It is a small price to pay to permanently remove your criminal record as you seek a new job or a new life position.

I don’t use this forum to discuss criminal cases too often, but after an exceptional week in Court, I want to share some good results. This week I secured the dismissal of a DUI case and the dismissal of a domestic assault charge. My approach to my client’s case whether personal injury or criminal is to aggressively pursue the matter and prepare every case as if we are going to trial. I never assume an injury case is going to settle and I never assume that a criminal case is going to result in a plea… this approach is the most effective way I know to ensure great results for my clients. This week was a good one in the criminal courts.

My first client was arrested for DUI following an auto accident with significant property damage and injuries. Although it was the first offense, the prosecution was looking for severe penalties because of the accident. After aggressively fighting this case, the DUI was dismissed for lack of evidence and my client was left to face only civil penalties.

The second charge dismissed this week was for domestic assault. In this case, the client had a prior record which was resolved by a criminal filing. His year for the criminal filing had not yet passed and the new domestic assault charge also meant that he would be violated on the filing charge. After a full hearing in front of the Judge, the violation was dismissed. This was a major victory for a client who was facing jail time should he be found in violation.

I am so grateful to all of my family, friends, past and future clients for helping to make my law practice such a success. Today marks 3 years since I opened my own doors in Providence and I can hardly believe it. I’ve been so fortunate to meet so many great people throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts (and in the case of entertainment law, people all over the country!) and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to help with their legal needs.

The last year was the best yet with a record number of new clients and cases and some terrific results for my clients in personal injury, entertainment law and criminal defense. I am proud to describe just a few of the great results and projects that I was involved in over the past year alone:

In Personal Injury:

Criminal Defense Attorney Joseph Lamy has secured another great result for a criminal defendant. In just this past month we have successfully secured the dismissal of assault charges, two DUI cases, marijuana possession and this week we have obtained a fantastic result in a very serious case. My client was charged with two counts of third degree sexual assault (statutory rape) and there was a very large age gap between my client and the alleged victim which makes a statutory rape case that much more difficult. According to RIGL 11-37-6, a person is guilty of third degree sexual assault if:

he or she is over the age of eighteen (18) years and engaged in sexual penetration with another person over the age of fourteen (14) years and under the age of consent, sixteen (16) years of age.

My office worked this case for over a year, filing nearly a dozen motions, aggressively tackling discovery and working relentlessly with the prosecutor towards a positive outcome. We were ready for trial to begin this Monday but were able to avoid it because the prosecution made a fantastic offer to avoid trial. One count of third degree sexual assault was dismissed and my client plead nolo contendre to an amended charge of misdemeanor simple assault.

This morning in Kent County Courthouse, criminal defense attorney Joseph Lamy secured the dismissal of assault charges based on the defense that the accused was legally entitled to come to the aid of another person in danger.

The canon of law surrounding “self-defense” to assault or violent crime charges is large. It is abundantly clear that a person is entitled to use reasonable self-defense if he or she believes that they are under imminent physical harm. There is case law that supports an extension of this self-defense rule to a third party intervenor.

In the case at hand, my client witnessed one person strike another smaller person during a dispute. My client was behind the attacker and when the attacker motioned to strike the other person for a second time, my client brought him down to the ground. The police felt that excessive force may have been used and because the “victim” wanted to press charges, my client was arrested for simple assault. We argued from the onset that my client was intervening for the protection of someone in danger of imminent harm. Today we were successful and had the assault charges dismissed.

This morning in Taunton District Court, Massachusetts and Rhode Island criminal defense attorney Joseph Lamy secured the dismissal of misdemeanor charges for operating to endanger. In Massachusetts, negligent operation of a motor vehicle or driving to endanger, Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90, Section 24(1)(h)(2)(a), carries very serious penalties. My client was facing not only the suspension of his license but jail time ranging from a couple of weeks to two years! It may be surprising to know that a traffic violation can result in a criminal record with such serious penalties, but it is true in Massachusetts if you are charged with driving to endanger.

The language of the statute is somewhat ambiguous but you may be charged with this criminal vehicle violation if the police believe your driving was extremely reckless or so dangerous that you put the lives of others at risk. Some examples of this behavior include: racing vehicles, speeds in excess of 20mph over the limit, frequent and rapid lane changes, utter disregard for the safety of others, etc. Some police officers, as in this case with my client, are too quick to turn minor traffic violations into criminal offenses and for this reason, these charges should always be fought aggressively in Court by an attorney.

My client had not committed any of the violations that would make him subject to this charge and we were able to prove this to the district attorney resulting in a dismissal of all charges (including the speeding ticket!). This case arose out of an auto accident. My client was operating with the right of way when another driver took a left turn in front of my client, failing to yield the right of way. The impact was significant and substantial damage was caused to both vehicles. Based on the physical damages alone, and on some other questionable evidence, the officer charged my client with driving to endanger. The officer did not witness the accident. No accident reconstruction was completed and no engineer was brought to the scene to examine the vehicles. Despite the absence of any tangible evidence, the officer charged my client criminally with driving in excess of 20mph over the speed limit.

I was able to successfully convince the Taunton District Attorney that they could never reach their required standard of proof, namely, that my client was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We showed that the case was built on questionable evidence and located and interviewed independent witnesses who confirmed that my client was driving approximately 40-45 mph (the speed limit was 40). Finally, this morning we gained the judge’s approval to dismiss all charges.

My office also represents this client for personal injuries sustained in this car accident. Not only did we successfully dismiss all of the criminal charges that my client is facing but we have convinced the other woman’s insurance company to accept responsibility and pay for all of my client’s damages.

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In speaking with a potential client this morning, I suggested that her case might be eligible for a criminal filing. Most people, including my new client, are unfamiliar with the criminal filing and need an explanation. Here it is….

First time offenders who commit minor crimes might be eligible for a criminal filing in Rhode Island. A criminal filing is one of the lightest punishments available to a defendant. A filing is held for one year and if the defendant can stay out of trouble during that time, the case is eligible to be expunged at the end of the year. Therefore, if your criminal defense attorney negotiates a filing for your penalty, you are only required to stay out of trouble for one year and the case will be thrown out and expunged as if it never happened. It is a great alternative to probation or more serious penalties.

Furthermore, a filing entered with a plea of nolo contendre (further discussed in my blog post about no contest pleas) is not a conviction in the State of Rhode Island. If you are arrested again during the period of a filing, that disposition will be revoked and you will be back in court. Furthermore, you will now be facing penalties for the new charges.

If you have been arrested and would like to know more about criminal filings in Rhode Island or would like to know if you may be eligible for this sentence, contact our office right away for a free consultation.

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This morning in Rhode Island District Court, criminal defense attorney Joseph Lamy successfully obtained a dismissal of felony cocaine possession charges. In Rhode Island, cocaine is classified as a schedule I drug and possession charges come with very serious penalties. According to the statute, a non drug-addicted person caught with possession of a schedule I drug is facing up to a life sentence and fines of up to $500,000!

If you have been arrested on drug possession charges, contact our office right away for a free initial consultation. The earlier I enter the case, the better your chances of a positive outcome.