FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  CONTACT:     Kristy dosReis

March 26, 2021                                                                                    (401) 274-4400 x2234

                                                                                                               This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

                                                                                                              Twitter @AGNeronha

 

Florida man faces hate crimes sentencing enhancement stemming from alleged road rage incident

 

An indictment, information, or complaint is merely an allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that a Florida man is facing multiple felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from an alleged road rage incident in East Greenwich in 2020.

 

Joseph Francis (age 35), of Pompano Beach, FL, was arraigned today in Kent County Superior Court and charged with three counts of felony assault, three counts of using a firearm while committing a crime of violence, one count of carrying a pistol without a license, one count of carrying a weapon while intoxicated, one count of possession of a controlled substance, one count of driving under the influence of liquor, one count of possession of a prohibited weapon other than a firearm, and one count of disorderly conduct.

 

The Office of the Attorney General filed a notice with the court that it intends to pursue a hate crimes sentencing enhancement in the case.

 

As alleged in the criminal information, on the evening of July 12, 2020, Rhode Island State Police responded to a call for assistance on Route 4 in East Greenwich involving a reported road rage incident.

 

That evening, Francis was involved in a near collision with another car carrying three individuals while driving north on Route 4. It is alleged that the near collision led to Francis directing racial epithets at the people in the other car. This led to a physical confrontation after all parties got out of their cars, at which point Francis allegedly brandished a firearm and threatened the three occupants of the other car before driving away.

 

Special Assistant Attorney General Robert Johnson IV of the Office of the Attorney General and the Rhode Island State Police led the investigation and ongoing prosecution of this case.

 

Rhode Island Hate Crime Sentencing Enhancement Law

 

If a defendant is convicted of a criminal offense, there is a separate sentencing hearing at which the State must prove that the criminal offense was motivated by “the actor's hatred or animus toward the actual or perceived disability, religion, color, race, national origin or ancestry, sexual orientation, or gender of that person.”  If the court determines beyond a reasonable doubt that the criminal offense was so motivated, the penalty for the criminal offense can be increased pursuant to the Rhode Island Hate Crimes Sentencing Act.

 

###

 

 

Follow us on social media!

Pfizer is seeking the FDA's approval for the emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 12-15. Both the company and it's German partner BioNTech [[ bye-oh-N-tek ]] said they also plan to submit similar requests in other countries. A clinical trial found the vaccine to be safe and effective in producing strong antibody responses in that age group.       Congressional investigators are looking over documents that reportedly show efforts by the Trump administration to alter or block CDC reports regarding COVID-19. The Washington Post reports that Trump appointees within HHS privately cheered their efforts to give a more positive view of the pandemic in 2020. The report references an email calling for more attention on the number of deaths attributed to heart attacks, cancer and suicides.       The White House is defending the administration's border policies amid the surge of illegal immigrants. Speaking to reporters, Press Secretary Jen Psaki [[ SAH-kee ]] said it would be inhumane to send the kids packing. She added the administration is taking a broader view of periodic border surges and is focused on the root causes.        A semiconductor chip shortage is forcing General Motors to reduce overtime shifts at two assembly plants. The cuts will affect Flint, Michigan and Fort Wayne, Indiana plants which produce a variety of pickup models from Chevrolet and GMC brands. The cuts are to be made this weekend.       A memorial for rapper DMX is growing outside of White Plains Hospital in New York. That's where the hip-hop start died today at the age of 50. Fans placed many things like candles, balloons and champagne bottles.        President Biden is paying tribute to the late Prince Phillip. Speaking to reporters, Biden said that the Duke of Edinburgh [[ ED-in-burra ]] was a "heck of a guy" and will be missed. The husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth passed away at the age of 99.       A dog owner in Massachusetts is back with her pup following a long absence. WBZ-TV reports that the canine, named Bay, had been missing from her Framingham home since 2016. The dog's owner received a call last week from Animal Control that the dog had been found safe and sound in Needham about 10 miles away from her home.