Defendant John Whiting challenged his conviction because the misdemeanor threshold for his crime was increased after he had been charged. Whiting was charged with larceny over $500.00, the specific amount being $714. At the time of the offense, this was classified as a felony because of the amount. While Defendant Whiting’s case was pending, the Legislature increased the threshold for felonies to $1500 or more. Whiting motion the court to recognize his case as a misdemeanor. The Superior Court rejected and the Rhode Island Supreme Court agreed with the Superior Court. However, all criminal cases where the statutes have been amended, repealed, modified or changed should not be looked at through this narrow scope . The Supreme Court reminded us that there is a difference when the Legislature decriminalizes a crime then when one is modified:
“Accordingly, the majority reasoned that it would be “inconsistent with the intent of the Legislature to prosecute acts that are no longer criminal offenses,” and upheld the dismissal of the counts arising under the repealed statute. Id. At bottom, the majority opined that it would be “fundamentally unfair to prosecute an individual for prior conduct that would now not constitute a violation of law.” Id. Unlike the circumstances in Babbitt and Mullen, here, at all relevant times, defendant’s conduct was, and remains, criminal. There was no intention to pardon the type of act committed by defendant.”
The bottom line, each case should be handled individually and if the statute is actually repealed the RI Supreme Court has a track record of recognizing that these are instances where cases should be dismissed. See the full opinion: State v. John Whiting.