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Drug and Narcotic Offenses

Drug and Narcotic Offenses

Rhode Island Drug and Narcotic Offense Information

Each state and the federal government have laws against the unlawful use, manufacture, and distribution of drugs. The purpose of these laws is to reduce the unlawful consumption of drugs, reduce drug-related crimes, and severely punish repeat offenders and major drug dealers. Drug Schedules Federal drug statutes classify controlled substances according to “schedules.” The Attorney General has the authority to delete, add or reschedule substances. State schedules refer to or are based on federal schedules. Drugs included on these schedules are referred to as “Controlled Dangerous Substances” (“CDSs”). Punishment for drug and narcotic offenses generally depends on:

  • The quantity of the drug.
  • It’s classification under the schedules.
  • The purpose of its possession. The most serious drug crimes are:
  • Producing illegal drugs
  • Manufacturing drugs
  • Selling drugs — For example, a person “dealing” (selling) five or more ounces of heroin or cocaine can be jailed for more than 10 years.Possession of drugs with the intent to distribute them is also a serious crime. Prosecutors can prove your intent to distribute drugs just by showing the quantity of the drug, without any evidence that you actually distributed the drug.In most states, possession of drugs for personal use is a serious crime. But in some states, possession of drugs for personal use is punished less severely than distribution crimes. For example, in some states, possession of a small amount of marijuana (less than 50 grams) is decriminalized or treated as a disorderly person’s offense. A person convicted of a disorderly person’s offense is generally not imprisoned but may be placed on probation or ordered to pay a fine. However, possession of a larger quantity of marijuana or other drug, even if for personal use, is treated as a serious crime.



Some states have enhanced penalties for drug crimes. These penalties go into effect if:

  • Minors are used to distribute the drugs
  • The drugs are delivered or sold to minors;
  • The drugs are sold or distributed on school property. Enhanced punishments vary from state to state. You may also be in danger of “forfeiting” your property if you’re convicted of a drug crime. For example, if your house is used to make and distribute drugs, the government may be able to seize your house.


Rhode Island Drug Offenses

§ 21-28-4.01 Prohibited acts A – Penalties. – (a)

(1) Except as authorized by this chapter, it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance.

(2) Any person who is not a drug-addicted person, as defined in § 21-28-1.02(18), who violates this subsection with respect to a controlled substance classified in schedule I or II, except the substance classified as marijuana, is guilty of a crime and upon conviction may be imprisoned to a term up to life or fined not more than five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) nor less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both.

(3) Where the deliverance as prohibited in this subsection shall be the proximate cause of death to the person to whom the controlled substance is delivered, it shall not be a defense that the person delivering the substance was at the time of delivery, a drug-addicted person as defined in § 21-28-1.02(18).

(4) Any person, except as provided for in subdivision (2) of this subsection, who violates this subsection with respect to:

(i) A controlled substance, classified in schedule I or II, is guilty of a crime and upon conviction may be imprisoned for not more than thirty (30) years, or fined not more than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) nor less than three thousand dollars ($3,000), or both;


Special laws cover professional drug dealers. A “drug kingpin,” or a person organizing, financing, or managing a business to manufacture, transport or sell drugs, commits a serious crime. Special sentences are reserved for professional drug dealers. The federal government has the death penalty for drug kingpins. Some states impose 25 years imprisonment without parole for professional drug dealers.

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