Rhode Island drug possession laws are quite strict and severe. Although you may feel like you weren’t hurting anyone by having drugs in your possession, the laws view it differently. For something as seemingly minor as marijuana possession, you could be facing serious jail time, fines, and other lasting repercussions under Rhode Island law.
In order to be charged and subsequently convicted for drug possession, you don’t have to have the drugs on you person. They don’t have to be in your hand or even your pocket when the police search you. As long as they are considered “under your control”, you can be charged. This means that drugs found in your vehicle, home, or even found next to you on the sidewalk could be used against you.
Although drug laws in Rhode Island are very strict and have the potential to carry serious penalties, you have rights. From the moment you encounter police, you have rights. Your defense lawyer is there for you, to ensure those rights have been protected from the beginning. From challenging evidence seized in a questionable search to ensuring you don’t say anything that could further incriminate you, your attorney is there as your advocate, to look out for your best interests.
The criminal charge you face for drug possession in Rhode Island depends on the exact drug or controlled substance you are accused of possessing.
Rhode Island Marijuana Possession Penalties
Marijuana possession decriminalized was passed in June 2012, although technically it doesn’t go into effect until April 1, 2013.
The decriminalization statute will allow up to 1 oz of marijuana for adults, with only a civil penalty of a $150 ticket. A first-time possession of marijuana charge will no longer be considered a misdemeanor.
You may still be convicted until that time, or for larger amounts.
You can also be ordered to serve up to 100 hours of community service and have to attend drug education classes.
If you have a prior conviction on your record, your penalties can be doubled. This means you could face up to 2 years in jail and higher fines. You would also potentially have to complete 200 hours of community service on top of any drug treatment and education programs.
Regardless of how many convictions you have on your record, if your possession charge comes while you are driving, you will lose your license for 6 months to one year.
Finally, if you are accused of possessing more than 1 kilogram of marijuana, you will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and fines reaching $500,000.
Rhode Island Drug Possession Penalties
If you are accused of possession of any drug controlled substance other than marijuana, you could be charged with a felony. If this is your first such offense, you’ll face:
- Up to 3 years in jail
- Fines reaching $5,000
- Drug Education Classes
- Community Service
If this isn’t your first charge, your penalties could be doubled or even tripled.
Rhode Island drug possession charges carry significant enhancements if you are charged with possessing the drugs in a school zone or if you have multiple convictions on your record. The best way to know for certain what you are up against and how a lawyer may be able to help is to consult with one as soon as possible.
An experienced Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer can size up your case and help you decide how to best proceed to protect your rights and freedom.
Please contact us for a consultation with a Rhode Island criminal defense attorney with experience fighting drug charges in RI courts.