What is the Court process? Do I need a lawyer?

The Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy is a criminal defense law firm in Rhode Island that has made a name for itself as a premier criminal law office.


Your first court date will be held in District Court. On that date, your name will be called and you will go up before the Judge. A member of the charging police department will also be there. Attorney Murphy and you will stand in front of the judge and the clerk will ask you your address and date of birth. These are the only questions that you will answer. Attorney Murphy will do the rest of the talking. The clerk will then read the charge or charges. The Judge may act for the police officer to read the facts. Judges do this in order to determine bail and any other bail conditions that might be appropriate.

If needed, Attorney Murphy will make bail arguments on your behalf. Bail will be set (unless it’s a serious felony or you are a bail or probation violator). If its personal recognizance then no money is needed, if its surety bail then you would have to post 10% or use a bail bondsman.

The Judge will then give you a new court date for a pre- trial conference.

Pre-trial conference

During the course of your case, you may have many pretrial conferences. Pre-trial conferences are an opportunity for Attorney Murphy to collect discovery, request additional discovery, file motions and other appropriate filings. This is also a time for Attorney Murphy to discuss your case with the prosecutor and even conference with the Judge. All these things are done with the intent of getting the result you need.

After several pre-trial conferences, you will receive an offer to resolve your matter. You might receive several different offers. Ultimately, it is your case and your decision about how you want your matter resolved. Attorney Murphy will go over all the possibilities and outcomes and help you make a decision.

Ultimately, if you do not want to accept any offer, your matter can be set down for trial.


In District Court, your trial will be a bench trial. This means that there is no jury and just the judge. The judge will make the decision of not guilty or guilty.

The town who charged you will present their witnesses first and Attorney Murphy will have the opportunity to cross exam each witness. The second half of the trial is when you can call your own witnesses.


If you were to lose the trial in District Court you have a right to appeal to Superior Court. If you take an immediate appeal, the sentence will not be imposed and you will start from the beginning in Superior Court.

Do I need a lawyer?

Criminal charges and especially convictions can impact your life in severe ways. You can lose your job, your livelihood, your license, you ability to go certain places and do certain things. Sometimes the impact of a certain case is not seem until years down the road. For example, you get pulled over and charged with a DUI. You decide not to hire an attorney and you end up admitting to charge. Now you have a criminal conviction, you lost your license, you don’t have a clean background and then years later you get charged with another DUI. Now, you are facing mandatory jail. On top of all those reasons, it is scary going into court, especially by yourself. For all these reasons and more, it is very important that you hire a lawyer. Attorney Murphy is willing to work with you and your situation and help you get the representation you need.