Right to counsel

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Legislation, Sexually Dangerous Persons - Registration/Notification

R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-37.1-13(3) and 11-37.1-14(3) state that an indigent sex offender objecting to a community notification requirement has the right to appointed counsel. 


In State v. Leon, 2013 R.I. Super. LEXIS 45 (R.I. Super. 2013), the court noted that the statutory scheme in Rhode Island had been amended so as to have first level review occur with a magistrate of a Superior Court, after which the magistrate’s decision could be appealed to a Superior Court judge, but that the right to counsel provisions had not been updated to address whether the right to counsel extended to this second appeal.  It then held that “Since §§ 11-37.1-13 and 8-2-39.2 are unclear about the duration of a sexual offender's right to counsel, the rule of lenity would dictate that § 11-37.1-13 be interpreted in Mr. Leon's favor to provide him with appointed counsel for his appeal to this Court.” 


Then, in DiCarlo v. State, 2016 R.I. Super. LEXIS 43 (R.I. Super. 2016), the court again held that the statutory right to counsel extended to appeals to the Superior Court judge, and commented that this statutory construction ruling was “consistent with an equal protection analysis.”  It added that “leaving it to the Drug Court Magistrate to make a final determination concerning the right to counsel on appeal, and thereby forcing a litigant to proceed pro se, would render his or her opportunity to be heard meaningless.”

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no