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Can a court reduce penalties for distributing drugs to minors?

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

Rhode Island law prohibits the possession, manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance. It only exempts authorized entities like common carriers, public employees and medical professionals.

In addition, the Uniform Controlled Substances Act details the penalties for distributing drugs to minors. In all instances, the alleged distributor should be aged 18 and above. While the supposed recipient must be below 18 and at least three years younger than the distributor.

Schedule I and II substances

The law imposes the greatest punishment to those who distribute Schedule I and II drugs, excluding marijuana. The penalty could be a fine of $500,000 at most or imprisonment of at least 15 years or for life. In some situations, the penalties could be a fine plus imprisonment.

Ways to reduce a sentence

There are times when the courts can impose an alternative sentence below 15 years. For this to happen, there should be “substantial and compelling circumstances” to justify the reduced sentence such as:

  • The defense was able to present evidence of high quality and credibility.
  • The defendant was cooperative with and respectful to law enforcement authorities.
  • Their background and character reflected a good record prior to the offense.

There could also be underlying reasons behind the nature and circumstances of the drug distribution. For whatever reason, the trial justice must put on record their justification for reducing the sentence.

Schedule III, IV and V drugs

Meanwhile, the punishment for distributing Schedule III and IV drugs may be a fine of $40,000 at most or imprisonment of five to 20 years, or both. As for distributing marijuana or a Schedule V drug, the penalty could be a maximum fine worth $10,000 or a sentence of two to five years, or both.

Additionally, the penalties may vary for the distribution of imitation drugs. The sentence should not go beyond five years and the fine must not exceed $20,000.

The right to defend yourself

Getting a charge for distributing drugs is a major criminal offense. If you are facing such an ordeal, you may still exercise your right to defend yourself. Seeking legal support may help you give your side of the story, challenge the case and present new evidence.