Possible Defenses In Drug Crime Cases

In Rhode Island, drug crimes are taken seriously and can carry severe penalties. Rhode Island has statutes that outline various drug offenses and their corresponding punishments. Common drug offenses include possession, distribution, trafficking, and manufacturing of controlled substances (R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28-4.01.1). Criminal defense attorneys might present certain defenses in response to a drug charge. 

Drug Crime Defenses:

  • Unlawful Search and Seizure: One of the most common defenses in drug cases is challenging the legality of the search and seizure that led to the discovery of the drugs. If law enforcement conducts an illegal search without a warrant or probable cause, the Court may suppress the evidence and deem it inadmissible.
  • Lack of Possession: The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused knowingly possessed the controlled substance. If the drugs were found in a location accessible to multiple individuals or the defendant was unaware of their presence, the defense may argue that they did not have actual or constructive possession. The defense attorney would say that even if the drugs were found in the vicinity of the accused, they did not have control or dominion over them. The attorney might also try to present an alibi to show that the accused was not present at the location where the drugs were discovered at the time of the incident. Furthermore, the defense attorney might question the chain of custody of the drugs to cast doubt on their authenticity or integrity as evidence. If applicable, the attorney could argue that the accused was mistaken for someone else who possessed the drugs. Lastly, if the accused was coerced or forced into possessing the drugs by someone else, the defendant will want to present evidence to support this claim.
  • Entrapment: If law enforcement officials induced the defendant into committing a drug crime that they would not have otherwise committed, entrapment may be a successful defense. It usually works as follows: The defendant must prove that law enforcement officers induced or coerced them to commit the crime. This inducement can take various forms, such as persistent requests, pressure, or threats. The defendant must demonstrate that they were not inclined or predisposed to commit the crime. If the person was already involved in drug-related activities or had a history of drug offenses, the defense of entrapment becomes less likely to succeed.

The Judge may dismiss the charges if the defense proves the above elements. Additionally, the burden of proof generally lies with the defendant to establish entrapment. In drug cases, entrapment defenses can be complex and challenging to prove. It often requires thorough documentation of the interactions between the defendant and law enforcement officers, including any communication records, witness testimonies, and evidence of inducement. 

  • Duress: If the defendant can demonstrate that they were forced or threatened into committing the drug offense under duress, it may serve as a defense. However, the threat must be imminent and grave to justify the commission of the crime.
  • Illegal Search Warrant: If law enforcement obtains a search warrant through false information or fails to adhere to proper procedures, the warrant may be deemed invalid, and the Court may suppress any evidence obtained.
  • Miranda Rights Violation: If the police did not properly inform the defendant of their Miranda Rights during the arrest or interrogation process, the judge may exclude any statements they made from evidence.


Understanding Rhode Island’s drug crime statutes and potential defenses is crucial for anyone facing drug-related charges in the state. Consulting with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is highly recommended to explore the best defense strategy based on the case’s specific circumstances. PALUMBO LAW has highly skilled criminal defense attorneys who can assist you with your defense for a drug-related charge. Contact us today.

The content of this blog is intended to be general information and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult with a qualified lawyer regarding your specific situation.