All states regulate and control the possession of controlled substances. 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 sale of controlled substances—referred to as “delivery” or “possession with the purpose to deliver” in Arkansas statute.
(The possession of controlled substances for personal use carries different penalties. For more information on possession of controlled substances for personal use, see Possession of Controlled Substances in Arkansas.)
Arkansas divides its controlled substances into six “schedules,” according to their potential for abuse and accepted medical use. Some controlled substances, like codeine (a common painkiller), can be possessed legally so long as the holder has a valid prescription.
For more on marijuana possession, see Possession of Marijuana in Arkansas.
(Ark. Code §§ 5-64-203 to -216 (2019).)
Arkansas law refers to illegal drug sale crimes as the “delivery of controlled substances” and “possession of controlled substances with purpose to deliver.”
Delivery. Delivery means to transfer or attempt to transfer from one person to another a controlled substance in exchange for money or anything of value. A completed sales transaction does not need to occur.
Possession with purpose to deliver. Depending on the circumstances, someone charged with possessing an illegal drug might instead end up facing charges of possession with purpose to deliver—sometimes called intent to sell or intent to distribute. A person’s purpose to deliver is based on evidence showing the accused intended to sell the drugs and not possess them for personal use, such as:
(Ark. Code §§ 5-64-101, 5-64-422 and additional sections (2019).)
In Arkansas, most crimes for delivery of, and possession with purpose to deliver, controlled substances carry felony penalties.
Arkansas divides felonies by severity into six offense classes (unclassified, Y, A, B, C, and D), with the most serious felonies placed in Class Y and the least serious felonies in Class D. Felony drug delivery or purpose to deliver crimes fall into Classes A, B, C, D, and Y, with penalties ranging from a year to up to 40 years in prison.
A few delivery-related crimes are misdemeanors. Those referenced in this article are Class A misdemeanors, which is the most serious misdemeanor offense level and carries a maximum sentence of one year’s imprisonment.
(Ark. Code § 5-4-401 (2019).)
Penalties for delivery of, and possession with purpose to deliver, Schedule I and II drugs range from a Class C to Class Y felony.
Possession with purpose to deliver or actual delivery of methamphetamine or cocaine is punished based on the amount of the substance involved:
If the amount is ten grams or more but less than 200 grams:
Possession with the purpose to deliver or the actual delivery of Schedule I or II controlled substances other than methamphetamine or cocaine is punished based on the amount of the substance involved:
(Ark. Code §§ 5-64-420, -422, -424, -426 (2019).)
Possession with purpose to deliver a Schedule III controlled substances is punished based on the amount of the substance involved:
Delivery of Schedule III controlled substances is punished based on the amount of the substance involved:
(Ark. Code §§ 5-64-428, -430 (2019).)
Possession with the purpose to deliver Schedule IV or V controlled substances is punished based on the amount of the substance involved:
Delivery of Schedule IV or V controlled substances is punished based on the amount of the substance involved:
(Ark. Code §§ 5-64-432, -434 (2019).)
Possession with the purpose to deliver or the actual delivery of a Schedule VI controlled substance is punished based on the amount of the substance involved:
(Ark. Code §§ 5-64-436, -438 (2019).)
Delivery of, or possession with purpose to deliver, the following amounts of a controlled substance constitutes trafficking and is punishable as a Class Y felony:
(Ark. Code 5-64-440 (2019).)
Arkansas law provides harsher penalties for delivery crimes committed under certain circumstances, as described below.
The law allows extended terms of imprisonment for defendants with prior felony convictions and a doubling of a sentence for defendants with prior drug convictions involving marijuana, hallucinogens, narcotics, depressants, or stimulants.
(Ark. Code §§ 5-4-501, 5-64-408 (2019).)
A controlled substance crime involving delivery to a minor (younger than 18) can incur serious penalties, including two times the punishment or an additional 10 years’ imprisonment.
(Ark. Code § 5-64-406. (2019).)
A defendant may be punished by an additional ten years’ incarceration for delivery of, or possession with purpose to deliver, a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of these facilities:
(Ark. Code § 5-64-411 (2019).)
A “continuing criminal enterprise” occurs when a defendant derives substantial income from an enterprise carried out with at least five other people and involving in the commission of a series of two or more felonies.
Engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise is an unclassified felony. Defendants face a sentence that is twice that of the underlying crime. The penalty for a second conviction is incarceration for a period that is three times that of the underlying crime.
(Ark. Code § 5-64-405 (2019).)
Arkansas also makes it illegal to deliver drug paraphernalia—items used to ingest, inhale, or inject controlled substances—to a minor who is at least three years younger than the defendant. If the drug paraphernalia is delivered in furtherance of a felony controlled substance violation, the offense is a Class B felony. In all other cases, it’s a Class A misdemeanor. (Ark. Code § 5-64-444 (2019).)
Even though nitrous oxide is not a scheduled controlled substance, Arkansas still punishes people who purposely sell, offer to sell, distribute, or give away nitrous oxide for the purpose of intoxication. The unlawful distribution of nitrous oxide is a Class A misdemeanor. (Ark. Code § 5-64-1202 (2019).)
Convictions for drug delivery and purpose to deliver drugs carry stiff sentences, involving lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines. Sentences can double or even triple under certain circumstances. If you face delivery charges, contact an attorney who specializes in the defense of drug crimes who can provide you with legal advice and information on the potential consequences of the charges against you.