District Court


The District Court handles arraignments for felony and misdemeanor cases. Misdemeanor cases are punishable by up to one (1) year in prison and fines are not to exceed $1,000. There are no jury trials heard in District Court. If you are being charged with a crime, you are referred to as a "defendant."


If you are posting bail on behalf of a defendant or for yourself, there are a few procedures that you should know.

  • Pursuant to ​G.L. 1956 § 12-13-10​, ​any balance of bail funds available after the payment of restitution, fines, and costs, or any other assessments issued by any court within the Rhode Island Judiciary, must be refunded to the defendant or the individual who posted the money on behalf of the defendant.

  • If you are a party posting bail for a defendant at the court, you must have a license or a Rhode Island Identification Card to post bail.

  • If you post bail for a defendant at the prison or at the police station with a Bail Commissioner (Justice of the Peace), any fees that you pay are non-refundable and are not part of your bail.         

  • Under ​G.L. 1956 § 12-10-2(d), a person arrested is afforded the opportunity to be arraigned and released on bail by a bail commissioner (also called a justice of the peace), when appropriate, if taken into custody when court is not in session. ​​​Bail commissioners are individuals who are appointed by the Chief Judge of the District Court and who have the authority to conduct an arraignment (special arraignment) to decide whether a person who has been arrested and taken into police custody should be released. The arraignment usually takes place at the police department and is held when court is not in session – evenings, weekends, and holidays. Even though the person is arraigned by a bail commissioner, the person must still attend a formal arraignment in the District Court after the person is released from police custody. A bail commissioner will charge a non-refundable fee for performing the arraignment at the police station.

Failure to Appear

In the event you signed a notice to appear before the District Court and you fail to appear, the judicial officer will order a bench warrant for your arrest. You should report to the District Court immediately to appear before a judicial officer on the warrant. Please note that the District Court Clerk’s Office does not continue or reschedule any court dates.

No Contact Orders

In all domestic violence offenses, a No Contact Order (an order of protection) is issued automatically by the judicial officer and/or the bail commissioner. If you are the victim or complaining witness and wish to drop the No Contact Order, you must speak to a Domestic Violence advocate in order to appear before a judicial officer to drop the order. You may contact the District Court Clerk’s Office to receive contact information for the advocate.​​​​​