Posted in General on December 23, 2021
My spouse / partner and I got in an argument and I called the police. I never wanted the person to get charged or arrested but police arrested them. What can I do?
Most calls to the police with reports of a domestic incident ends up with an arrest, even if the calling party did not want an arrest to occur. After an arrest is made, the defendant will either be released from the police station or will be brought into court for arraignment. An arraignment is a formal court hearing where the defendant is formally accused of the crime and enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. The Court (or bail commissioner) then sets bail.
Under Rhode Island General Laws § 12-29-4, when a person is charged or arrested for a domestic violence offense, he or she must be arraigned before the Court or a bail commissioner. The requirement to impose a no contact order is mandatory under Rhode Island laws, meaning neither the Court nor any bail commissioner has any discretion. The defendant will be court-ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim.
When does a no contact order get dropped?
The no contact order issued by the Court or bail commissioner is one of the most difficult parts of a domestic case especially in a case where the victim does not want the person charged and wants to have contact with them. Spouses/partners must leave the home and find another place to stay. This causes great hardship for families.
Essentially no contact orders may terminate automatically (when the underlying domestic violence charges against the defendant are dismissed or the sentence ultimately imposed ends) or upon an order of the Court.
How can I apply to get the no contact order dropped?
The Court may enter an order that vacates or modifies the no contact order upon application of the alleged victim. This requires the alleged victim to file a Motion to Vacate the No Contact Order.
It is important to note you should not file this Motion unless s/he feels it is safe to do so. The Court will want to make sure the request is knowing, voluntary, and without any threats or coercion. No contact orders are in place to protect people from any abuse or injuries.
After the Motion is filed, you will get a court date to appear (usually at least 10 days out). When you appear on the assigned court date, the Court will review the police reports, listen to oral arguments, and make a decision.
What happens next?
After reviewing police reports and hearing from the parties, the Court might decide to vacate the no contact order, modify the no contact order, or pass the Motion (meaning it gets denied, but you may try again). Oftentimes it takes several motions/requests before a Judge will vacate a no contact order resulting from a domestic violence case. Judges typically want to see the defendant make some progress, complete domestic violence classes, counseling sessions, etc. before vacating it outright. However, it is common for a judge to modify the no contact order to permit electronic communication only, or communication pertaining to the minor children in common only.