Rhode Island

This page provides a breakdown of all major developments and right to counsel law that the NCCRC knows for this state, sorted by subject area. Click on either tab below to see the aspect it describes.

Color Key Explanation
Categorical Right To Counsel There is a right to counsel without qualification for all indigent individuals in this type of case (except that the individual may be required to request counsel).
Discretionary Appointment Of Counsel Courts are permitted but not required to appoint counsel for any indigent individual in this type of case. A request may be required.
Right Or Appointment Is Qualified The established right to counsel or discretionary appointment of counsel is limited in some way, including: the only authority comes from a lower/intermediate court decision or a city government, not a high court or state legislature; a case has cast doubt on prior authority; a statute is ambiguous; or the right or discretionary appointment is not for all individuals or proceedings within that type of case.
No Such Proceeding This state has no law creating a judicial proceeding of this type.
None While this state does not provide for or require appointment of counsel with respect to the given subject area, it does have something (such as a report or bar policy) that supports the right to or appointment of counsel for this subject area.
Other Because the "Other subject areas” category can include developments from different subject areas that do not work the same way as each other, a blanket categorization of this category is not possible.

Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for indigent parents in abuse/neglect cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

Legislation

Legislation (dead): extended foster care

05/24/2017

These bills would have required appointed counsel for foster children who avail themselves of voluntary extended services.

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Civil Commitment - Subject of Petition

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for an indigent subject of a civil commitment proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Custody Disputes - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court may appoint counsel for a minor in a divorce proceeding to handle issues related to custody, support, or visitation.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Guardianship/Conservatorship of Adults - Ward

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for the subject of a guardianship proceeding, but only upon request or if the petition is contested.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Sexually Dangerous Persons - Commitment

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

An indigent sex offender objecting to a community notification requirement has the right to appointed counsel.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Right to counsel

A federal court found a right to counsel for sexually dangerous person commitments. Rhode Island, however, has no such procedure at this time.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Sexually Dangerous Persons - Registration/Notification

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Rhode Island provides a right to counsel for sex offenders objecting to community notification.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A Rhode Island court held that sex offenders have a constitutional right to counsel when objecting to community notification.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is an arguable right to counsel for parents in adoption proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Birth Parents

Court Rule or Initiative

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Indigent parents have a right to counsel in termination of parental rights cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Truancy - Petition Against Child

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Indigent children in Rhode Island are entitled to counsel in truancy proceedings (which are treated as "wayward child" matters).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Other Subject Areas

Legislation

Right to counsel - seizure of vehicles used for explosives transport

There is a right to counsel for an unknown person whose vehicle is seized on the grounds it was used to transport illegal explosives.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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