Family court is not a criminal court. Therefore, generally, the family court does not hear cases that involve criminal defendants, nor does it impose criminal penalties on defendants. However, Rhode Island allows some criminal cases with juvenile defendants to be transferred to family court. The state believes that in some situations the family court is better equipped to handle cases involving young people.
Moving a case from criminal court to family court has both pros and cons for defendants. In most cases, the defendant will be given a lesser penalty in family court than they would in a criminal court. This is because the family court is more focused on rehabilitation and will usually order interventions like counseling, and other forms of treatment . Conversely, criminal defendants often have more rights during the process, including a right to counsel, and stricter rules of evidence that the state must follow. Your skilled Rhode Island family law attorney can help you understand how these differences will apply in your situation.
In the case at issue, a juvenile defendant was adjudicated by the family court for delinquency after being found responsible for two counts of second-degree child molestation sexual assault. The victims were under the age of 14. As part of the adjudication, the defendant was required to register as a sex offender.