Charged With A Gun Crime In Rhode Island? Get the Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyers at Abilheira Law on Your Side.

Despite the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, gun laws in the United States have become increasingly oppressive — especially in light of recent events. That being said, crimes involving firearms (often referred to as “gun crimes”) are extremely serious and a conviction can result in life-altering consequences, including jail time.

That is why it is important to have a dedicated and knowledgeable Rhode Island criminal defense attorney in your corner to advocate for your rights and get you the best possible outcome based on the unique circumstances of your case. Our skilled lawyers are prepared to defend you against any Rhode Island gun crime charge, including but not limited to:

  • Firing in a compact area
  • Unlawful discharge of a firearm
  • Possession of a firearm while in the commission of a crime
  • Possession of a firearm by a person previously convicted of a felony
  • Possession of a firearm without a license or permit
  • Committing fraud in order to obtain a firearm permit or license

Rhode Island Firearms Act

Rhode Island General Laws § 11-47, also known as The Rhode Island Firearms Act (“Firearms Act”) outlines the various gun laws in this State: when possession of a firearm is or is not permitted, what types of firearms are or are not lawful, and the associated penalties for committing a gun crime in Rhode Island.

Carrying/Using/Discharging a firearm when committing a crime of violence

A person who carries, uses, or discharges a firearm when committing a crime of violence (listed below) will face an additional felony firearm charge.

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Rape, first- or second-degree sexual assault
  • First- or second-degree child molestation
  • Kidnapping
  • First- and second-degree arson
  • Mayhem
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Breaking and entering
  • Any felony violation involving the illegal manufacture, sale, or delivery of a controlled substance
  • Possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver a schedule I or II controlled substance classified in schedule I or schedule II
  • Assault with a dangerous weapon
  • Assault or battery involving grave bodily injury
  • Assault with intent to commit any offense punishable as a felony
  • A domestic violence felony

Carrying a firearm when committing a crime of violence

If convicted of carrying a firearm while attempting to commit or committing a crime of violence, under RI Gen Laws § 11-47-3 those individuals will face penalties including:

  • First offense- prison for 3-10 years
  • Second offense- prison for 10 to 20 years
  • Third or subsequent offense- 15 years to life in prison

Using a firearm when committing a crime of violence

Under RI Gen Laws § 11-47-3.2, those individuals who use a firearm while attempting to or committing a crime of violence (as defined above) will face the following penalties, in addition to those for the underlying crime of violence:

  • First offense- 10 years in prison
  • Second offense- 20 years in prison
  • Third or subsequent offense- life in prison, or life without the possibility of parole

However, if the weapon used is a machine gun, the penalties are increased as follows:

  • First offense- 30 years in prison
  • Second offense- life in prison

Moreover, any sentence imposed for using a firearm during a crime of violence will be imposed consecutively (or after) the sentence imposed for the underlying crime or attempted crime.  The sentences will not be concurrent (or at the same time) as the underlying offense

Discharging a firearm when committing a crime of violence

If while committing a crime of violence (as defined above), the person discharges a firearm, they shall face an additional felony charge with penalties as follows:

  • Ten (10) years in prison, if no injury
  • Twenty (20) years in prison, if a person is injured or a police officer is endangered while on duty.
  • Life in prison if:
    • a police officer (on duty) is injured by the discharge of the firearm
    • if the death or permanent incapacity of any person results

Moreover, any sentence imposed for using a firearm during a crime of violence will be imposed consecutively (or after) the sentence imposed for the underlying crime or attempted crime. The sentences will not be concurrent (or at the same time) as the underlying offense.

Firearms Possession Offenses

“Possessing” or “carrying” a firearm refers to a person’s intentional control of a firearm with the knowledge of its nature. Even if a person discards the firearm in an attempt to evade police, s/he may be charged with being in possession of the firearm if there is evidence that supports the inference that s/he had control of the firearm before discarding it.

Possession of firearms by certain persons prohibited

Under RI Gen Laws § 11-47-5, certain individuals are prohibited from possessing, purchasing, owning, carrying, or transporting a firearm including:

  • Those who have been convicted of a crime of violence
  • Those who are a fugitive from justice
  • Those who have been convicted or plead nolo contendere to a felony domestic violence crime
  • Those who have been convicted or plead nolo contendere to certain misdemeanor domestic violence crimes including:
  • Simple assault
  • Cyberstalking and cyberharassment
  • Violation of a protective order
  • Disorderly conduct (if it involved the use or attempted use of a dangerous weapon).
  • Those who are on community confinement
  • Those who are prohibited by a court of competent jurisdiction

Penalties include imprisonment for not less than two (2) nor more than ten (10) years; the sentence shall not be suspended, deferred or probation.

Possession of a firearm without a license or permit

Under RI Gen Laws § 11-47-8, it is illegal for a person to carry a firearm on or about his or her person or in their vehicle, whether concealed or visible, unless they have a license or permit. Every person convicted of violating this statute shall be imprisoned for at least one (1) year or up to ten (10) years or fined up to $10,000.

Please note, it is not illegal to carry a firearm in one’s home, land or place of business. Nor is it illegal to merely travel through the State of Rhode Island with a firearm, so long as the person has a valid license or permit from another licensing authority.

Possession of a firearm while delivering, possessing with intent to deliver, or manufacturing a controlled substance

In addition to being charged with the above drug charges and facing the penalties associated with said crimes, individuals committing these crimes while possessing a firearm will face a minimum of two (2) years in prison and up to twenty (20) years in prison.

Please note, that it is NOT a defense that the person in possession of the firearm had a valid license or permit to carry or possess the firearm.

Firing in A Compact Area

Any person who discharges a firearm in a compact area without permission or justification or within two hundred and fifty feet of one’s home or residence could face imprisonment for one (1) year, a fine of up to five hundred dollars ($500), or both.

Get a knowledgeable RI firearms lawyer on your side! Call Abilheira Law today.

Our Rhode Island gun crimes lawyers have the skill and expertise to successfully defend your firearms offense.  We will help protect your rights and fight to meet your goals.

If you or someone you know are facing a gun crime charge in Rhode Island, or if you would like more information, please contact our experienced Rhode Island criminal defense attorneys at Abilheira Law today. Call us now (401) 245-5100.