Possession of a Controlled Substance in Arkansas

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All states regulate and control the possession for personal use of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for possession. Arkansas classifies not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine as controlled substances, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.

This article discusses possession of CDS for personal use only. The possession of CDS for sale or distribution carries different penalties. For more information on possession of CDS for sale or distribution, see Sale of Controlled Substances in Arkansas.

How Arkansas Classifies Controlled Dangerous Substances

Arkansas divides its CDS into six “schedules,” according to their potential for abuse:

  • Schedule I drugs (such as opiates and hallucinogenics) have the highest likelihood of abuse
  • Schedule II drugs (such as raw opium and amphetamines) have a high likelihood of abuse, have an accepted medical use, and can result in severe psychological and physical dependence if abused.
  • Schedule III drugs (such as pentobarbital and anabolic steroids) have a lower likelihood of abuse than Schedule I or II drugs, have an accepted medical use, and can lead to low or moderate physical dependence and high psychological dependence.
  • Schedule IV drugs (such as diazepam and tramadol) have a lower likelihood of abuse than Schedule III drugs, have an acceptable medical use, and may lead to limited psychological and physical dependence compared to Schedule III drugs.
  • Schedule V drugs (such as pseudoephedrine) have a lower likelihood of abuse than Schedule IV drugs, are the least dangerous, a currently accepted medical use, and likely to lead to only limited physical or psychological dependence compared to Schedule IV drugs.
  • Schedule VI drugs (marijuana) are substances that have been determined not to fit into Schedules I-V, have no acceptable medical use, are unsafe even under direct medical supervision, have a high likelihood of physical and/or psychological dependence, and their use poses a significant risk to public health.

For more on marijuana possession, see Possession of Marijuana in Arkansas.

If you’ve been arrested for possession of CDS, you’ll need to consult the Arkansas Code that list precisely which drugs, and in what amounts, fit into each group. Those statutes are Arkansas Code Sections 5-64-203 through 5-64-216.)

Some CDS, like codeine, a common painkiller, may be possessed legally so long as the holder has a valid prescription.

How Arkansas classifies possession of CDS crimes

Arkansas treats its CDS crimes as either felonies or misdemeanors (which result in less jail time and lower fines than felonies).

  • Felonies are divided among six classes (unclassified, Y, A, B, C, and D), with the most serious crimes placed in Class Y and unclassified. CDS possession crimes fall into Classes A, B, C, and D.
  • Misdemeanors are divided among three classes. Possession of certain CDS is a Class A misdemeanor.

Each of the felony and misdemeanor classes has a punishment range of incarceration and fines. Below, each of the CDS possession offenses is explained and placed in a felony or misdemeanor class. The punishment ranges are explained first.

Felony and misdemeanor penalties

Felony convictions incur heavy fines and lengthy incarceration depending on the Class of felony committed:

  • A Class Y felony is punishable by ten to 40 years and the amount of the fine is decided by the court.
  • A Class A felony is punishable by six to 30 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • A Class B felony is punishable by five to 20 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • A Class C felony is punishable by three to ten years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • A Class D felony is punishable by up to six years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year of incarceration and a fine of up to $2,500.

Possession of Schedule I or II CDS, narcotics and methamphetamine only

The punishment for possession of Schedules I or II CDS (narcotics or methamphetamine only) depends on the amount of the substance in the defendant’s possession.

  •    Possession of less than two grams is a Class D felony.
  •   Possession of two grams or more, but less than ten grams, is a Class C felony.
  •   Possession of ten grams or more, but less than 200 grams, is a Class B felony.

Possession of Schedule I or II CDS that is not methamphetamine or cocaine

The punishment for possession of Schedules I or II CDS (not cocaine or methamphetamine) depends on the amount of the substance in the defendant’s possession.

  •   Possession of less than two grams is a Class D felony.
  •  Possession of two grams or more, but less than 28 grams, is a Class C felony.
  •  Possession of 28 grams or more, but less than 100 grams, is a Class B felony.

Possession of Schedule III CDS

The punishment for possession of Schedule III CDS depends on the amount of the substance in the defendant’s possession.

  •  Possession of less than two grams is a Class A misdemeanor.
  •  Possession of two grams or more, but less than 28 grams, is a Class D felony.
  •  Possession of 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams, is a Class C felony.
  •  Possession of 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams, is a Class B felony.

Possession of Schedule IV or V CDS

The punishment for possession of Schedules IV or V CDS depends on the amount of the substance in the defendant’s possession.

  •  Possession of less than 28 grams is a Class A misdemeanor.
  •  Possession of 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams, is a Class D felony.
  •  Possession of 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams, is a Class C felony.
  •  Possession of 400 grams or more, but less than 800 grams, is a Class B felony.

Possession of Schedule VI CDS

The punishment for possession of Schedules VI CDS depends on the amount of the substance in the defendant’s possession and whether the defendant has any prior convictions for possession of Schedule VI CDS.

  • Possession of less than four ounces is a Class A misdemeanor
  •  Possession of one ounce or more, but less than four ounces, when the defendant has two previous convictions for possession of Schedule VI CDS, is a Class D felony.
  •  Possession of four ounces or more, but less than ten pounds, is a Class D felony.
  •  Possession of ten pounds or more, but less than 25 pounds, is a Class C felony.
  •  Possession of 25 pounds or more, but less than 100 pounds, is a Class B felony.
  •  Possession of 100 pounds or more, but less than 500 pounds, is a Class A felony.

Possession of nitrous oxide

Even though nitrous oxide is not a scheduled CDS, Arkansas still punishes people who possess nitrous oxide for the purpose of intoxication. The unlawful possession of nitrous oxide is a Class A misdemeanor.

Enhanced penalties for possession of CDS in a detention facility

A defendant convicted of possession of CDS in a state, county, city, or juvenile detention facility will be punished under the next higher criminal classification.

Enhanced penalties for possession of CDS near certain facilities

A defendant convicted of a Class C felony possession or higher within 1,000 feet of these facilities will be punished by an additional ten years incarceration:

  • city or state park
  • public or private school, college, or university campus
  •  school bus stop
  • skating rink, Boys Club, Girls Club, YMCA, YWCA, community center, recreation center, or video arcade
  • public housing project
  • drug or alcohol treatment center
  • day care center
  • place of worship, or
  • shelter as defined.

Repeat Offenders

Like every state, Arkansas imposes harsher penalties on defendants with multiple prior felony convictions.  (Arkansas Code Section 5-4-501.)  

One to four prior felony convictions:

  • A Class Y felony is punishable by ten years to life
  • A Class A felony is punishable by six to 50 years.
  • A Class B felony is punishable by five to 30 years.
  • A Class C felony is punishable by three to 20 years.
  • A Class D felony is punishable by up to 12 years.

More than four prior felony convictions:

  • A Class Y felony is punishable by ten years to life.
  • Class A felony is punishable by six to 60 years.
  • Class B felony is punishable by five to 40 years.
  • Class C felony is punishable by three to 30 years.
  • Class D felony is punishable by up to 15 years.

If a past conviction is for a violent crime, the additional penalties are higher. You should review the Arkansas code to see how your past violent crime convictions can affect you.

Talk To An Attorney

Convictions for possession of CDS can result in heavy fines and incarceration, with even steeper penalties for people with a criminal history. An attorney who specializes in the defense of CDS crimes will review the facts of your case and advise you of your different options and their possible outcomes.

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