All states regulate and control the sale of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for their sale. Alabama considers not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine to be controlled substances, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.
How Alabama Classifies Controlled Dangerous Substances
Alabama divides its CDS into five “schedules” based on factors such as their potential for abuse and dependence, and whether they are approved for legitimate medical use:
- Schedule I drugs (such as opiates and certain opium derivatives and hallucinogenic substances) as those that have a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, or are unsafe for use in treatment, even under medical supervision.
- Schedule II drugs (such as coca leaves and opium) have a high potential for abuse, have an accepted medical use and can result in severe psychological and physical dependence if abused.
- Schedule III drugs (such as codeine and amphetamines) have a potential for abuse less 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 barbiturates) have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs, have an acceptable medical use and may lead to limited psychological and physical dependence in relation to Schedule III drugs.
- Schedule V drugs are the least dangerous, with the lowest potential for abuse, a currently accepted medical use, and likely to lead to only limited physical or psychological dependence. Schedule V drugs include medicines that have very small amounts of specified narcotic drugs. (Alabama Code Sections 20-2-22 to 20-2-31.)
This article concerns the unlawful sale or distribution of CDS. Separate punishments apply to possession of CDS for personal use or for the unlawful manufacture of controlled substances.
For information about possession of controlled substances for personal use, see Possession of a Controlled Substance in Alabama.
Felony Sale or Distribution of CDS
Defendants who are charged with the sale or distribution of any amount of CDS face the possibility of a Class A felony conviction. Class A felonies are punishable by ten to 99 years in prison and a fine up to $60,000. There are no misdemeanor options for possession of CDS for sale or distribution.
Harsher penalties face defendants who are over the age of 18 and sell, furnish, or give to a person under the age of eighteen any CDS listed in Schedules I through V. These defendants cannot receive a suspended sentence, nor can they be granted probation. (Alabama Code Section 13A-12-211, 215.)
Sales Near Schools or Public Housing
Alabama imposes additional penalties for the unlawful sale or distribution of CDS when the sale occurred:
- Near a school. If the unlawful sale or distribution occurred on a school campus (a public or private school, college, university, or any other educational campus), or within three miles of such a campus, an additional five-year penalty will be imposed.
- Near public housing. If the unlawful sale or distribution occurred within three miles of or on a public housing project owned by a public housing authority, an additional five-year penalty will be imposed. (Alabama Code Section 13A-12-250, 270.)
Repeat or Habitual Offenders
Alabama imposes increasingly harsh penalties on individuals with any prior felony convictions who commit subsequent Class A felonies.
One prior felony conviction. A person convicted of a Class A felony sale or distribution of CDS can be sentenced to life in prison or for a term of 15 to 99 years.
Two prior felony convictions. Someone convicted of a Class A felony for the sale or distribution of CDS will be sentenced to life in prison, or for a term not less than 99 years.
Three prior felony convictions. Sentencing depends on whether the priors include a Class A conviction:
- Priors that are not Class A convictions. At the discretion of the court, a person convicted of Class A felony sale or distribution of CDS whose three or more prior felonies are not Class A felony convictions may be sentenced to life in prison or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
- Priors that include a Class A conviction. The penalty for a person convicted of Class A felony sale or distribution of CDS who has one or more prior Class A felony convictions faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. (Alabama Code Section 13A-5-9.)
Talk To An Attorney
Possession for sale or distribution of CDS carries harsher penalties that simple possession of CDS. Past convictions, even misdemeanors, can result in extended jail times and heavy fines. It is important that you seek the advise of an attorney who is experienced in handling CDS cases. A good attorney will review the facts of your case, advise you of your options, and help you determine the best way to proceed.