Rhode Island

(information last updated Fall 2017)

Ongoing Projects:

State Project:

The Rhode Island Environmental Monitoring Collaborative has been tasked with  “organizing, coordinating, maintaining and supporting the environmental monitoring systems within [the state,]” including citizen science groups.  See infra “Use of Information.”

Trespass Laws:

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

No.  One entering upon the property of another must have “been forbidden to do so by the owner” to be guilty of criminal trespass.  R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-44-26.

Stalking Laws:

Criminal Law:

 “(a) Any person who: (1) harasses another person; or (2) willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows another person with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of bodily injury, is guilty of the crime of stalking.

(b)  Stalking shall be deemed a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than five (5) years, by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($ 10,000), or both.”  R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-59-2.

Civil Law:

“(a) Any person who suffers harm pursuant to [R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-59-2] may recover his or her damages in a civil action against the offender.”  R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-2.1.

Drone Laws:

“Subject to federal law, the state of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation shall have exclusive legal authority to regulate any object capable of flying that is remotely controlled and flies autonomously through software-controlled flight plans embedded in the object’s system by a global-position system, commonly known as unpiloted aerial vehicles, remotely piloted aircraft, drones, or unmanned aircraft systems.”  R.I. Gen. Laws § 1-8-1.

Use of Information:

Although our research is incomplete, these provisions could be construed to allow the use of information collected by citizens.

Explicitly Allows:

In 2004, the R.I. Legislature created the Rhode Island Environmental Monitoring Collaborative “for the purposes of organizing, coordinating, maintaining and supporting the environmental monitoring systems within [the state].”  R.I. Gen. Laws § 46-23.2-5.  It consists of 10 unpaid members, who sit ex officio from various governmental and educational organizations (e.g. Dep’t of Envtl. Mgmt.; Univ. of R.I. Graduate Sch. of Oceanography), id., one of which, Univ. of R.I. Watershed Watch, is a dedicated citizen science organization.  See URI Watershed Watch, Univ. of R.I., http://web.uri.edu/watershedwatch/ (last visited Apr. 10, 2017).  The Collaborative “shall work with other organizations and agencies that monitor . . . watersheds to perform [its duties].”  R.I. Gen. Laws § 46-23.2-5.


Evidentiary Standards:

Pleading a Claim:

Requires certification that the claim “is well grounded in fact.”  R.I. Super. R. Civ. P. 11.

Authentication or Chain of Custody:

“The requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.”  R.I. R. Evid. 901.

Expert Testimony:

Daubert standard.  See In re Odell, 672 A.2d 457, 459 (R.I. 1996).


Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.