The bill amends Section 12-10-2 of the General Laws in Chapter 12-10, which pertains to "Preliminary Proceedings in District Courts," specifically addressing the powers of justices of the peace in Rhode Island. The amendment authorizes justices of the peace, who are members of the state bar, to set and take bail for bailable offenses (excluding those punishable by life imprisonment), issue warrants and complaints returnable to the district court, and commit individuals to adult correctional institutions in default of bail. The justices of the peace are also empowered to handle cases involving bail and/or probation violations by issuing writs of mittimus and habeas corpus, and to proceed with arraignments on new charges. However, they are not permitted to issue search warrants.

Additionally, the bill outlines the procedures for handling misdemeanor and non-capital felony cases, including the acceptance of not guilty pleas and scheduling of pre-trial conference and felony screening dates. A significant change introduced by the bill is the increase in the fee for the services of justices of the peace from fifty dollars ($50.00) to one hundred dollars ($100), with a provision for a higher fee not exceeding two hundred dollars ($200) for special sessions requested between 11:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. The bill also grants immunity to justices of the peace for actions taken under this section. The act is set to take effect upon passage.

Statutes affected:
7953: 12-10-2