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An Introduction to Rhode Island Drug Laws

Posted by Ken Barrett | Feb 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

In Rhode Island, there are several drug laws that may impact the citizens of the state. Understanding possession, constructive possession, and possession with intent to sell drugs is perhaps more complicated than the average person thinks.

Possession of Drugs

Possession of drugs is probably the most straight forward of the three legal concepts we are discussing in this post. When one has drugs "In his possession," he is guilty of a crime. "In his possession" means in his pocket, in his hand, tucked inside his clothing, or somewhere else on his person. It doesn't matter if the person bought the drugs, or intended to use the drugs. Perhaps you are holding the drugs for another person. Nonetheless, if you have the drugs on your person, you are possessing the drugs, in the eyes of the law.

Constructive Possession of Drugs

"Constructive possession" means something slightly different. Imagine, for example, you are pulled over in your car. You have no drugs on your person, in your pocket or in your hands, but when they search the car, they find drugs under the driver's seat - where you were sitting. Here, you may be charged with drug possession under the theory of "constructive possession." Similarly, if you are in your home and the police execute a warrant, drugs found in your bedside table may be considered yours under a theory of constructive possession. Where it can get tricky is when the drugs are found in the living room. Or the back seat of the car. Or some other place where more than one person may have access to the drugs.

Possession with Intent to Sell (or Distribute)

When people think of “selling drugs” as a criminal offense, they often imagine a scenario where one person hands over money to another person in exchange for drugs. And this does, in fact, constitute a sale. However, people can also get charged with possession with intent to distribute on far fewer facts. Sometimes, in the law, a person's intent to sell is presumed based on the amount of drugs in his possession. Prosecutors will look at the facts as a whole when determining whether to charge a case as a possession case, rather than a possession with intent to distribute case by considering the following:

  • The amount of controlled substances possessed;
  • Whether the amount is greater than one would consider reasonable for personal use;
  • The possession of the type of drug paraphernalia typically necessary for selling drugs;
  • Frequent, short term visitors to the residence or workplace; and
  • Whether the person possesses large amounts of cash.

If You are Charged with a Drug Crime...

Drug crimes are very serious in the state of Rhode Island. You could face jail or prison time, depending on the nature of the charge and your prior criminal record. Consequently, it is a good idea to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact the Law Office of Kensley R. Barrett, Esq. at 401-380-6724 for a consultation today.

About the Author

Ken Barrett

Attorney Kensley Barrett is a skilled criminal defense lawyer with a proven track record in handling a wide range of cases in Rhode Island. Known for his strong background in trial advocacy and negotiation, Barrett is dedicated to providing personalized and effective representation for his clients. Recognized as a "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers and with a 10.0 "Superb" rating on Avvo, he consistently achieves successful outcomes, including acquittals, dismissals, and reduced charges.


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Kensley Barrett

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