Close X


When the State alleges that you have violated the terms and conditions of your probation, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney with experience defending individuals facing Rule 32F probation violation's immediately. A probation violation could lead to serious consequences including being placed in jail immediately. When you contact the criminal defense and probation violation team at the Marin, Barrett, and Murphy Law Firm we can work with you to try and minimize the consequences and do our best to keep you out of prison.

Rhode Island Probation Violation Defense Lawyers
Marin, Barrett, and Murphy Law Firm
Call Now to get your Best Defense! 401-228-8271

When an individual is put on probation the court can impose a variety of conditions to which they must adhere.  These conditions always include the promise to "keep the peace and be of good behavior" which requires the individual not be arrested while on probation. The State has the burden of proving that you violated the terms of you probation, by "a fair preponderance of evidence," a much lower standard than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

What happens if I pick up a charge while on probation in Rhode Island?

In all likelihood, the State will file what is called a 32(f) Violation.  This is so named because rule 32 is the rule the District Court and Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure that governs violation proceedings.  This will likely be presented to the defendant by the State at his or her initial appearance on the new charge.  The Court can then schedule the matter for a violation hearing to determine whether or not the defendant did in fact violate his filing or probation.  The judge may also grant bail to the defendant with a notice to appear on the hearing date, or the court can hold the defendant without bail at the ACI until the hearing.

What happens at a Rhode Island violation hearing?

Under Rhode Island Law 12-19-14 and Rule 32(f) of the Rhode Island Rules of Criminal Procedure, a defendant alleged to have violated his probation is afforded certain rights.  For instance, he is entitled to be apprised of the grounds upon which the violation is based.  He is also able to cross examine the witnesses against him and to present witnesses and evidence on his own behalf. However, unlike a criminal trial, he is not entitled to a decision by a jury of his peers.  Rather, a judge is the ultimate finder of fact and the one to make the decision on sentencing.  If the judge determines that the defendant did not violate, then the proceeding is over.  If on the other hand the judge does determine that a violation occurred, the matter proceeds for sentencing, at which point the defendant will be given another opportunity to be heard.  Oftentimes violation hearings do not proceed to the presentation of evidence, but rather the defendant, the State, and the Court agree to some sort of resolution beforehand.

Can a violation ever be dismissed or withdrawn?

Absolutely.  Oftentimes if the State cannot meet its burden at a violation hearing they will simply withdraw the violation and end the proceeding.  This may be because they do not have the witnesses or evidence needed to proceed.  It also may be because the defendant has come into compliance with the terms of his filing or probation such that a violation is no longer warranted.  Sometimes a violation may be withdrawn because the term of the probation or filing has already expired, or because the alleged conduct actually predates the term of probation or filing. 

Can a violation be filed if my probation has expired?

That depends.  In some instances, the State may attempt to violate a defendant even if the probation or filing period has expired if the defendant had had an outstanding bench warrant or something else that would toll the expiration of the probation.  In most instances though, a judgment of violation must be made prior to the expiration of the probationary or filing period.  This area of the law can be murky and occasionally up for interpretation; if you or a loved one has a pending probation or filing violation, call us today and let us fight for the best possible outcome.

What does it mean to be presented as a violator?

Under Rhode Island law, when a defendant is alleged to have violated his probation, he must be apprised of the grounds upon which the alleged violation is based.  This happens when the defendant is presented as a violator in court.  More often than not, this occurs when a defendant is arrested and brought to court.  However, in many technical violations, a defendant will be given notice to appear at court either by Probation or by Justice Assistance, an organization in place to monitor compliance of individuals on filings.  If a defendant is given notice, he must appear at a prescheduled court date, at which point he will formally be presented with the basis for the violation.  Thereafter the matter will either be resolved or rescheduled for further hearing.

How does the State of Rhode Island prove a violation?

Much like a criminal offense, the State bears the burden of proving to the Judge that a defendant did in fact violate his filing or his probation and will attempt to do so by presenting evidence and witnesses.  However, violation hearings are fundamentally different from criminal trials in several important ways.  For instance, a defendant is not entitled to a trial by a jury of his peers at a violation hearing; the decision is made solely by a judge.  Additionally, the rules of evidence – normally applied very strictly in criminal trials – are somewhat relaxed at violation hearings, making it easier for the State to make its case.  Perhaps the most important difference is the standard of proof needed for the State to prove a violation.  At a criminal trial, a defendant is presumed to be innocent until he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; at a violation hearing that State need simply to prove by a fair preponderance of the evidence that the defendant failed to keep the peace and be of good behavior.  In fact, it is possible that the defendant can be found not guilty of criminal charge that gave rise to the violation and still be found to be a violator!  With the odds stacked so heavily against alleged violators, it is incredibly important to have an attorney who understands the law and is able to put up the best possible fight.

Who charges probation violations?

Much like criminal charges, filing and probation violations are brought by the State.  This is done by presenting an individual as a Rule 32(f) violator, either by probation or Justice Assistance, the Attorney General, or both. 

What are examples and non-examples of violations in Rhode Island?

As discussed earlier in this section, an individual on a filing or probation can be violated for new substantive criminal offenses.  As such, the list of potential violations is virtually limitless.  In addition to new criminal offenses, failing to comply with the conditions of the filing or probation can also give rise to a violation.  Some common examples include failing to pay restitution; not engaging or comply with required counseling; failing to report to probation; or traveling out of state without the necessary permission.  While there are many examples of conduct that can trigger a violation, there are also many examples of conduct that will not give rise to a violation.  This is typically conduct that while illegal, is either considered de minimis or not criminal.  For instance, parking or speeding tickets, nonpayment of rent, jaywalking, civil offense operating on a suspend license, etc. will not trigger a violation.

What are the potential results for violating probation or a suspended sentence in RI?

If after a violation hearing or an admission of violation a Judge finds that an individual violated his filing, probation, deferred sentence, or suspended sentence, Rhode Island General Law 12-19-14(b) allows for several different sanctions.  The may do the following: revoke some or all of the suspended sentence and order the defendant to serve jail time; impose a sentence if one has not already been imposed; convert a filing to probation or a suspended sentence; or continue the defendant on the original sentence. 

Should I hire a Rhode Island Criminal Defense Attorney to handle a probation violation? 

If you have been reading these FAQs you now understand that the violating a filing or a probationary sentence can have swift and devastating consequences.  You also know that the system seems stacked in favor of the State and against the accused.  If you or a loved one is on probation or a filing and is alleged to have violated, call us today.  Let our team of experienced and tested criminal defense attorneys get to work on crafting a defense and securing the best possible outcome.

Call now to speak directly with a skilled
Rhode Island Probation Violation Defense Lawyer

(401) 228-8271

If the Judge determines that you are in violation of the terms of your probation, they can impose serious penalties on you. These penalties may include:
• Revocation of your probation
• Incarceration
• The addition of a new probation condition

There are a number of reasons why the State may move to violate an individual's probation, including:
• Failing a drug or alcohol test
• Failing to remain law-abiding
• Not keeping in contact with probation
• Failing to pay restitution, a fine, or court fee
• Not completing community service

If you face a probation violation charge, contact the Marin, Barrett, and Murphy Law Firm for a free initial consultation. Highly-skilled criminal defense lawyers Kensley Barrett and Stefanie Murphy regularly defends individuals charged with violating the terms and conditions of their probation.

Call now to speak directly with a skilled
Rhode Island Probation Violation Defense Lawyer

(401) 228-8271 

Rhode Island Probation Violation Laws

§ 12-19-9 Violation of terms of probation – Notice to attorney general – Revocation or continuation of suspension.
Whenever any person who has been placed on probation pursuant to § 12-9-8 violates the terms and conditions of his or her probation as fixed by the court, the police or the probation authority shall inform the attorney general of the violation, and the attorney general shall cause the defendant to appear before the court. The court may request the division of field services to render a report relative to the conduct of the defendant, and, pending receipt of the report, may order the defendant held without bail for a period not exceeding ten (10) days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. The court shall conduct a hearing to determine whether the defendant has violated the terms and conditions of his or her probation, at which hearing the defendant shall have the opportunity to be present and to respond. Upon a determination that the defendant has violated the terms and conditions of his or her probation the court, in open court and in the presence of the defendant, may remove the suspension and order the defendant committed on the sentence previously imposed, or on a lesser sentence, or impose a sentence if one has not been previously imposed, or may continue the suspension of a sentence previously imposed, as to the court may seem just and proper.

Rule 32(f) Revocation of Probation.
The court shall not revoke probation or revoke a suspension of sentence or the filing of a complaint except after a hearing at which the defendant shall be afforded the opportunity to be present and apprised of the grounds on which such action is proposed. The defendant may be admitted to bail pending such hearing. Prior to the hearing the State shall furnish the defendant and the court with a written statement specifying the grounds upon which action is sought under this subdivision. (As amended by the court on September 28, 1988; October 18, 1990.)


The Marin, Barrett, and Murphy Law Firm defends individuals facing a Violation of Probation in Block Island, Bristol, Burrillville, Central Falls, Charlestown, Coventry, Cranston, Cumberland, East Greenwich, East Providence, Exeter, Foster, Glocester, Hopkinton, Jamestown, Johnston, Lincoln, Little Compton, Middletown, Narragansett, Newport, New Shoreham, North Kingstown, North Providence, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Providence, Richmond, Scituate, Smithfield, South Kingstown, Tiverton, Warren, Warwick, Westerly, West Greenwich, West Warwick, Woonsocket.

Attorney Marin Named A SuperLawyer for Ten Consecutive Years 2014-2023

Attorney Matthew Marin has been named a Rhode Island SuperLawyer for 10 consecutive years from 2014 thru 2023. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in Rhode Island are selected by the Research Team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor. Super Lawyers selects lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement in their practice area.

Rhode Island Members of the National College for DUI Defense

Attorneys Matthew Marin and Kensley Barrett are both Rhode Island General Members of the National College for DUI Defense. Members represent some of the most experienced and cutting edge DUI defense attorney's throughout the Country. Nationwide, DUI laws are extremely complex and constantly changing and the College facilitates the exchange of innovative defenses throughout the Country.