Drug charges are mainly covered by North Carolina’s Controlled Substances Act. Possession can range from a misdemeanor charge to a serious felony trafficking charge. Available penalties range from fines all the way to more than 20 years in prison, depending on the charge. There are also enhancements buried in the Controlled Substances Act that can greatly increase punishment such as sale to a minor or within a 1,000 feet of a school. Misdemeanor possession charges where punishment does not exceed court costs and a fine still create a criminal record that can adversely affect a person for years. Defenses for drug charges depend on the drug and the circumstances of the charge.
Under the Controlled Substances Act, it is illegal (1) to manufacture, sell, or deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver a controlled substance; (2) to create, sell, or deliver, or possess with the intent to sell or deliver, a counterfeit controlled substance; or (3) to possess a controlled substance. The weight of a controlled substance alone can give rise to possession with intent to sell charges, or even drug trafficking charges which could also be indicted in Federal court.
In North Carolina, drugs like heroin and cocaine are classified into schedules, with schedule 1 being the most severely punished. These are often called “hard” drugs, categorizations which are generally achieved based on how and how harmful the side effects are. Any conviction involving Heroin, Ecstasy, GHB, Methaqualone, Peyote, and Opiates is considered Schedule 1, and possession of these drugs is a Class I Felony which may result in a prison sentence of 3 to 12 months without any prior record. Prior convictions may impact the defendant’s case even more negatively.
Convictions involving Cocaine, Raw Opium, Opium Extracts, Fluid and Powder Codeine, Hydrocodone, Morphine, and Methadone are considered Schedule II drugs, and the first offense involving these may result in a Class 1 Misdemeanor. A second offense involving Schedule II drugs will result in a Class 1 Felony.
Possession of a certain weight alone can lead to trafficking charges. The requisite weight varies from substance to substance. Trafficking charges are sentenced under their own structured sentencing chart that allows for much greater fines and prison sentences. The presence of a firearm, very high weight, or other circumstances can trigger Federal charges.
Contact Triangle Criminal Defense Group in Wake County, Raleigh NC to begin your defense.