Pepper Spray Laws – Rhode Island

Rhode Island is a broadly permissive state when it comes to the civilian possession and use of pepper spray, including other defensive spray formulations.

One must only be 18 years of age or older to possess pepper spray in the state, and there are no other restrictions on the quantity, formulation or any other salient characteristic about the spray itself or the device that discharges it.

Rhode Island flag

Keep reading to get the rest of the story on Rhode Island’s pepper spray laws and a selection of the most relevant state statutes governing possession and use at the end of the article.

Fast Facts

  • Anyone 18 years old or older May legally possess or purchase pepper spray in the state of Rhode Island.
  • All typical non-lethal defensive spray formulations are permitted under law, including OC pepper spray and CN and CS tear gases, as well as blends.
  • Citizens may carry any quantity of defensive spray that they choose so long as they’re otherwise allowed to be in possession of the spray.

Overview

Rhode Island law is simple, straightforward and to the point concerning all defensive sprays in civilian hands. Anyone that is aged 18 years or older can legally purchase and possess pepper spray in the state so long as they are possessing it or only self-defense purposes.

The relevant statute, 11-47-57 “Mace or similar substances” notes that any other use of a defensive spray is punishable by a $25 fine. Note that criminal misuse of pepper spray against another person will certainly entail far worse consequences, so you have been warned!

Other than that, citizens may possess defensive sprays in pretty much any configuration that fits their needs and desires. Oleoresin capsicum, OC pepper spray, is permitted as are chemical tear gases, among them CN, CS and Mace-brand irritants.

Blends are also okay, though the statute notes that any substance or device protected under this definition must be non-lethal.

Additionally, there are no restrictions on capacity so citizens can carry anything from a tiny keychain canister suitable for packing light to a jumbo, wide area can suitable for busting up a mob or fending off dangerous wildlife. It is worth mentioning that nowhere under the statutes for prohibited weapons are defensive sprays, tear gas sprays, or mace even mentioned.

Assuming that one does not use them to assault any other person or otherwise misuse them it can be inferred that pepper and other defensive sprays are permitted on school grounds.

Conclusion

Aside from an age restriction Rhode Island is definitely a permissive state regarding pepper sprays for civilians, with no onerous laws governing the formulation, the capacity or the possession of these substances in civilian hands.

You have to be 18 years old or older to possess any defensive spray in the state, but other than that you should not encounter any trouble procuring or carrying it. Defensive sprays are even permitted on school grounds, making them an excellent protection option for students and staff.

Relevant State Statutes

11-47-60.2. Possession of weapons on school grounds – Notification.

(a) If a student is found to be carrying a weapon, as defined in § 11-47-42, a firearm or replica of a firearm, or commits an aggravated assault on school grounds as defined in § 11-47-60, the principal or designee shall immediately notify the student’s parents and the local police and turn the weapon over, if any, to the local enforcement agency.

(b) Any person who has reasonable cause to know that any person is in violation of this statute shall notify the principal or designee. The principal or designee shall immediately notify the student’s parents and the local police. Any person acting in good faith who makes a report under this section shall have immunity from any civil liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of making the report.

(c) School superintendents shall receive notice from the clerk of the family court regarding the disposition of all cases involving juveniles from their school districts adjudged pursuant to this statute. This information shall remain confidential and be shared with school officials who deal directly with the student.

(d) The provisions of this section should not apply to the following activities when the activities are officially recognized and sanctioned by the educational institution:

(1) Firearm instructed and/or safety course;

(2) Government-sponsored military-related programs such as ROTC;

(3) Interscholastic shooting and/or marksmanship events;

(4) Military history and firearms collection courses and/or programs; and

(5) The use of blank guns in theatrical and/or athletic events.

(e) The provisions of this section shall not apply to colleges, universities or junior colleges.

11-47-42. Weapons other than firearms prohibited.

(a)(1) No person shall carry or possess or attempt to use against another any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slingshot, billy, sandclub, sandbag, metal knuckles, slap glove, bludgeon, stun-gun, or the so called “Kung-Fu” weapons.

(2) No person shall with intent to use unlawfully against another, carry or possess a crossbow, dagger, dirk, stiletto, sword-in-cane, bowie knife, or other similar weapon designed to cut and stab another.

(3) No person shall wear or carry concealed upon his person, any of the above-mentioned instruments or weapons, or any razor, or knife of any description having a blade of more than three (3) inches in length measuring from the end of the handle where the blade is attached to the end of the blade, or other weapon of like kind or description.

Any person violating the provisions of these subsections shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, and the weapon so found shall be confiscated.

Any person violating the provisions of these subsections while he or she is incarcerated within the confines of the adult correctional institutions shall be punished by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than three thousand dollars ($3,000), or by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than five (5) years, or both, and the weapon so found shall be confiscated.

(b) No person shall sell to a person under eighteen (18) years of age, without the written authorization of the minor’s parent or legal guardian, any stink bomb, blackjack, slingshot, bill, sandclub, sandbag, metal knuckles, slap glove, bludgeon, stungun, paint ball gun, so called “kung-fu” weapons, dagger, dirk, stiletto, sword-in-cane, bowie knife, razor, or knife of any description having a blade of more than three inches (3″) in length as described in subsection (a) of this section, or any multi-pronged star with sharpened edges designed to be used as a weapon and commonly known as a Chinese throwing star, except that an individual who is actually engaged in the instruction of martial arts and licensed under § 5-43-1 may carry and possess any multi-pronged star with sharpened edges for the sole purpose of instructional use. Any person violating the provisions of this subsection shall be punished by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than three thousand dollars ($3,000), or by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than five (5) years, or both, and the weapons so found shall be confiscated.

11-47-57. “Mace” or similar substances.

Any person eighteen (18) years of age or over may carry on his or her person and use, unless otherwise prohibited by law, any non-lethal noxious substance or liquid for his or her protection or the protection of others; however, the use of any non-lethal noxious substance or liquid for any other purpose shall be punishable by a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars ($25.00).

11-5-2. Felony assault.

(a) Every person who shall make an assault or battery, or both, upon the person of another, with a dangerous weapon, or with acid or other dangerous substance, or by fire, or an assault or battery that results in serious bodily injury shall be guilty of a felony assault. If such assault results in serious bodily injury, it shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than twenty (20) years. Every other felony assault which results in bodily injury or no injury shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than six (6) years.

(b) Where the provisions of “The Domestic Violence Prevention Act”, chapter 29 of title 12, are applicable, the penalties for violation of this section shall also include the penalties as provided in § 12-29-5.

(c) “Serious bodily injury” means physical injury that:

(1) Creates a substantial risk of death;

(2) Causes protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily part, member, or organ;

(3) Causes serious permanent disfigurement or circumcises, excises, or infibulates the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of a person; or

(4) Results in the termination of a pregnancy where the person making the assault or battery is someone other than the pregnant person and knows or has reason to know that the person upon whom the assault or battery is made is pregnant.

(d) This section shall not apply to acts committed by:

(1) Any person relating to the performance of an abortion pursuant to chapter 4.13 of title 23, the Reproductive Privacy Act, for which the consent of the pregnant person, or a person authorized by law on her behalf, has been obtained or for which such consent is implied by law; or

(2) Any person for any medical treatment of the pregnant person or the fetus.

(e) “Bodily injury” means physical injury that causes physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.

11-5-2.2. Battery – Criminal negligence.

(a) When serious bodily injury, as defined in § 11-5-2, of any person, occurs as a proximate result of criminal negligence, the person committing the criminal negligence shall be guilty of battery and shall be deemed to have committed a felony and shall be imprisoned not exceeding ten (10) years or fined not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both.

(b) For the purposes of this section: (i) “Criminal negligence” shall mean: Conduct which is such a departure from what would be that of an ordinary prudent or careful person in the same circumstance as to be incompatible with a proper regard for human life or an indifference to consequences. Criminal negligence is negligence that is aggravated, culpable or gross; (ii) “Person” shall mean an individual or any business entity recognized by the laws of the state of Rhode Island including, but not limited to, corporations, limited liability corporations, partnerships or limited liability partnerships.

11-5-3. Simple assault or battery.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in § 11-5-2, every person who shall make an assault or battery or both shall be imprisoned not exceeding one year or fined not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both.

(b) Where the provisions of “The Domestic Violence Prevention Act”, chapter 29 of title 12, are applicable, the penalties for violation of this section shall also include the penalties as provided in § 12-29-5.

11-5-5. Assault of police officers and other officials.

Any person who shall make an assault or battery, or both, by knowingly and willfully either (1) striking, or (2) spraying with a noxious chemical, commonly used as a personal defense weapon, including Mace and an oleoresin capsicum product or like products, a uniformed member of the state police or metropolitan park police, environmental police officer, state properties patrol officer, probation and parole officers, state government case worker or investigator, judge of the supreme, superior, family, district court, traffic tribunal or municipal court, deputy sheriff, city or town police officer or firefighter, member of the capitol police, member of campus security force of state colleges and universities, member of the Rhode Island airport police department, member of the Rhode Island fugitive task force, Rhode Island public transit authority bus driver, or on-duty plainclothes member of the town, city, or state police force, investigator of the department of the attorney general appointed pursuant to § 42-9-8.1, or member of the railroad police after proper identification is displayed, or uniformed dog officer, or out-of-state police officer called into Rhode Island under a cooperative agreement to provide mutual aid at the request of the state of Rhode Island pursuant to chapter 37 of title 42, or assistant attorney general or special assistant attorney general, or employees of the department of environmental management responsible for administrative inspections or any constable authorized by chapter 45-16 of the Rhode Island general law causing bodily injury while the officer or official is engaged in the performance of his or her duty, shall be deemed to have committed a felony, and shall be imprisoned not exceeding three (3) years, or fined not exceeding fifteen hundred dollars ($1,500), or both.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.