RG 005. Office of the Attorney General
Identifier: RG 005
The Attorney General is established under the Rhode Island Constitution as one of the five general officers subject to election by voters. The Office of the Attorney General was first created in Rhode Island in May 1650. Since its creation, the office has been an elected position, except for a brief period from 1740 to 1742 when the charter allowed for the appointment of a King’s attorney for each county. The office of the Attorney General was formally adopted under the Rhode Island State Constitution in 1842. The Department of Attorney General is divided into three distinct divisions: Criminal, Civil and Administration, each of which is responsible for several sub-units which together combine to meet the goals and the objectives of the Department. The Department is divided into four budget programs, Criminal, Civil, General, and the Bureau of Criminal Identification.The Department of Attorney General is the central legal agency of the State. The Department is responsible for prosecution of all felony criminal cases and misdemeanor appeals as well as prosecution of misdemeanor cases brought by State law enforcement action in the various district courts. Additionally, as chief legal officer of the State, the Attorney General has responsibilities beyond criminal prosecution. The Attorney General represents all agencies, departments, and commissions in litigation and initiates legal action where necessary to protect the interests of Rhode Island citizens. These matters range from gas, electric and telephone company rates before the Public Utilities Commission, health insurance rates cases, environmental issues, protecting the public’s rights under the Open Meetings Act and the Access to Public Records Act, to protecting consumers from deceptive practices and antitrust violations. The Attorney General provides legal advice to state officers and state agencies whenever requested. The Department of Attorney General is also charged with operating and maintaining the State Bureau of Criminal Identification, which is the central repository of all criminal records in the State.