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Big Changes Proposed to Rhode Island Criminal Laws

Posted by Matthew Marin | Mar 13, 2011 | 0 Comments

PROVIDENCE - Rhode Island's new attorney general, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, has been in office for just 2 1/2 months. But the former Pawtucket police officer and legislator, now a lawyer who served for 20 years in the state House of Representatives, has just submitted a raft of bills that target everything from lax policing of home care attendants, to residential mortgage fraud, deceptive trade practices, cyber-crimes, drunken driving and public-corruption.

And there are more bills to come. While his staffers are remaining mum about the specifics, Kilmartin is currently working on proposed legislation that would amend the state's medical marijuana-law. There's also a bill being drafted that would give local law enforcement agencies more authority to police gambling gaming facilities.

In a lengthy interview last week, Kilmartin outlined his ambitious legislative agenda for 2011. All of the proposed bills will require a hearing before they come up for a vote. Some measures are mirror images of bills that Kilmartin tried to get enacted when he was a House member. Others incorporate initiatives his Democratic predecessor, Patrick C. Lynch, tried to push through. But some of the bills are newly minted and stem from what Kilmartin sees as flaws in Rhode Island's legal landscape as well as a heap of societal issues.

The bills would require licensure of personal care attendants who help the elderly and disabled in their homes, broaden the reach of current state laws aimed at Internet crime, and add a new arsenal of offenses that prosecutors could charge when going after corrupt public officials.

Kilmartin is also proposing legislation that by July of this year - the US government deadline - would put Rhode Island in compliance with the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act sex-offender registration laws (SORNA) -- an initiative that Lynch, his predecessor, said was too costly for the state to contemplate doing in such a short time span but which Kilmartin claims can be accomplished without additional cost to the state.

Amy Kempe, spokeswoman for Kilmartin, said that if the state did not comply by the deadline, Rhode Island could lose up to $650,000 annually in federal funding for justice initiatives on the state and local level which she said would be more than it would cost to implement the SORNA mandates. "And if we implement the act, the state police have been assured they'd receive $200,000 to establish the web-based notification process," she said.

SORNA contains some provisions that have been controversial nationally - including the requirement that certain juvenile sex offenders who are adjudicated in the Family Court - register on an Internet database, and retroactive registration requirements for some offenders who were convicted and punished for sex crimes years ago.
One of the bills Kilmartin has submitted is aimed at attacking the state's huge problem with drunken drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 40 percent of 2009 highway driving fatalities in Rhode Island involved drivers who were alcohol-impaired, 25 percent above the national average.

About the Author

Matthew Marin

Attorney Matthew T. Marin is a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer with an outstanding track record in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. With expertise in DUI/DWI, drug offenses, domestic violence, and white-collar crimes, he is dedicated to providing personalized and effective representation for his clients. A "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers and a member of the National College for DUI Defense and the National Trial Lawyers Top 100, Attorney Marin is committed to staying current with the latest legal developments and giving back to his community through pro bono work.


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