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§11-31-1  Circulation of obscene publications and shows. –

Published: 2015

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Criminal Offenses


Obscene and Objectionable Publications and Shows

SECTION 11-31-1

   § 11-31-1  Circulation of obscene

publications and shows. –

(a) Every person who willfully or knowingly promotes for the purpose of

commercial gain within the community any show, motion picture, performance,

photograph, book, magazine, or other material which is obscene shall, upon

conviction, be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100)

nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment for not more

than two (2) years, or both.

   (b) For the purpose of this section:

   (1) In determining whether or not a show, motion picture,

performance, photograph, book, magazine, or other material is obscene the trier

of the fact must find:

   (i) That the average person, applying contemporary community

standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient


   (ii) That the work depicts or describes, in a patently

offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by this chapter; and

   (iii) That the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious

literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

   (2) "Community standards" means the geographical area of the

state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

   (3) "Knowingly" means having knowledge of the character and

content of the material or failure on notice to exercise reasonable inspection

which would disclose the content and character of it.

   (4) "Material" means anything tangible which is capable of

being used or adapted to arouse prurient interest through the medium of

reading, or observation.

   (5) "Patently offensive" means so offensive on its face as to

affront current standards of decency.

   (6) "Performance" means any play, motion picture, dance, or

other exhibition performed before an audience.

   (7) "Promote" means to manufacture, issue, sell, give,

provide, lend, mail, deliver, transfer, transmit, publish, distribute,

circulate, disseminate, present, exhibit, or advertise or to offer or agree to

do it for resale.

   (8) "Sexual conduct" means:

   (i) An act of sexual intercourse, normal or perverted, actual

or simulated, including genital-genital, anal-genital, or oral-genital

intercourse, whether between human beings or between a human being and an


   (ii) Sado-masochistic abuse, meaning flagellation or torture

by or upon a person in an act of apparent sexual stimulation or gratification.

   (iii) Masturbation, excretory functions, and lewd exhibitions

of the genitals.

   (9) "Standards of decency" means community standards of


   (c) If any of the depictions and descriptions of sexual

conduct described in this section are declared by a court of competent

jurisdiction to be unlawfully included because the depictions or descriptions

are constitutionally protected or for any other reason, that declaration shall

not invalidate this chapter as to other sexual conduct included in this chapter.

History of Section.

(P.L. 1978, ch. 218, § 2; P.L. 1979, ch. 406, § 1.)