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RobertJDFL, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 13156
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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I was wondering if there is anyway to drop down a felony

Customer Question

i was wondering if there is anyway to drop down a felony charge of child neglect to a misterminer charge ill give a little history
JA: What state is this in? And can you tell me a little more about the charge?
Customer: i left a child in car for about 7minutes wheni returned to car the child was missing because a person parked next to car and took child out and called the police in the state of Rhode Island
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: whenpolice arrived i was with the child and was arrested
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: yes the police arrested me and charged me with felony charges
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 4 months ago.

Thank you for using Just Answer. I am a licensed attorney and look forward to helping you. I am reviewing your question and will reply back shortly.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
the child was not harmed in anyway no did the child have to go to ER for any reason
The mother of the child nor is the Dept of Child Services willing to press any kind of chargers against
nor has the Dept of Child services step into my life in anyway
Also i mind add that the Dept said i should have not been arrested
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 4 months ago.

Good afternoon,

I would agree that given the circumstances, the police way overreacted. At this point, the case will go to the prosecutor's office for review who will make a determination whether to charge you or not. The prosecutor has to be able to prove neglect beyond a reasonable doubt. Here is the statute:

§ 11-9-5 Cruelty to or neglect of child.

(a) Every person having the custody or control of any child under the age of eighteen (18) years who shall abandon that child, or who shall treat the child with gross or habitual cruelty, or who shall wrongfully cause or permit that child to be an habitual sufferer for want of food, clothing, proper care, or oversight, or who shall use or permit the use of that child for any wanton, cruel, or improper purpose, or who shall compel, cause, or permit that child to do any wanton or wrongful act, or who shall cause or permit the home of that child to be the resort of lewd, drunken, wanton, or dissolute persons, or who by reason of neglect, cruelty, drunkenness, or depravity, shall render the home of that child a place in which it is unfit for that child to live, or who shall neglect or refuse to pay the reasonable charges for the support of that child, whenever the child shall be placed by him or her in the custody of, or be assigned by any court to, any individual, association, or corporation, shall be guilty of a felony and shall for every such offense be imprisoned for not less than one year nor more than three (3) years, or be fined not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both, and the child may be proceeded against as a neglected child under the provisions of chapter 1 of title 14.

(b) In addition to any penalty provided in this section, any person convicted or placed on probation for this offense may be required to receive psychosociological counseling in child growth, care and development as a part of that sentence or probation. For purposes of this section, and in accordance with § 40-11-15, a parent or guardian practicing his or her religious beliefs which differ from general community standards who does not provide specified medical treatment for a child shall not, for that reason alone, be considered an abusive or negligent parent or guardian; provided, the provisions of this section shall not: (1) exempt a parent or guardian from having committed the offense of cruelty or neglect if the child is harmed under the provisions of (a) above; (2) exempt the department from the provisions of § 40-11-5; or (3) prohibit the department from filing a petition, pursuant to the provisions of § 40-11-15, for medical services for a child, where his or her health requires it.

Ultimately, the state decides whether to press charges. Whether they can prove that you "abandoned" the child is the question - leaving the child alone for a few minutes arguably isn't abandonment, even though yes, anything could have happened to the child at that time, which is likely what caused the police to arrest you. The fact that the child wasn't injured and that child services also isn't taking action is helpful.

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 4 months ago.

Whether a charge could be plead down would be in the discretion of the prosecutor handling the case and also whether there was a lesser offense (e.g., a person charged with assault with a deadly weapon could plead down to assault). There is no lesser included offense here. However, a defense lawyer may be able to get them to agree to a dismissal of the charge upon let's say you agreeing to be seen and cleared by a psychologist. Alternatively, they may be willing, especially if this is a first offense, to offer something like pre-trial intervention/diversion, where in exchange for completing court requirements such as counseling and a parenting class, the charge is dismissed.

I don't see this with you going to jail, it's not a strong case at all, and not what the statute was written for.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
it was my frist time and i already have a court date and the charges are brought upon me from the police dept that arreseted me
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 4 months ago.

The police can arrest and book you on a charge, but it is the state the actually will file charges (that's why state criminal cases are always written State versus Defendant's name).

Regardless, it doesn't change my answer. Even if a prosecutor wanted to reduce this to a misdemeanor, there is no lesser charge to reduce it to -child neglect is considered a felony in Rhode Island. However, as I mentioned, that doesn't mean that a prosecutor wouldn't be open to negotiating this. A defense lawyer may be able to get them to dismiss the case outright through negotiation. Or, a prosecutor may offer some sort of "diversion" where upon the court sets certain conditions (e.g., parenting classes and counseling) and in exchange the court will then dismiss the charge.

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 4 months ago.

I, like the other Experts on this site, am here to assist customers like you. However, we do so in anticipation of being paid for our efforts, just like other professionals do, since this is our livelihood and not a hobby. To that end, I am more than happy to clarify my answer to you and answer any related follow up questions that you might have. In return, I ask that you show good faith in compliance with the Terms of Service by accepting my answer, whether the news is good or bad, so that I will be paid for my efforts. Thank you!