You face an uphill battle if you’re arrested for possession, trafficking, manufacturing, or other criminal activities related to controlled substances. You’ll face misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the circumstances. A conviction can mean hefty fines, probation, and jail time. For more serious drug offenses, there may even be a mandatory minimum sentence of incarceration, especially if you are being charged with a federal drug crime.

The stakes are high in a drug crimes case. You need an experienced attorney who understands the criminal justice system to fight for you. The drug crime defense lawyers at Tarlton Polk Law have the trial skills to identify and attack weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Brad Polk and Raymond Tarlton started off as prosecuting attorneys. Now they use that knowledge to represent individuals charged with drug offenses. In many matters, they’ve been able to get a dismissal, acquittal, or reduction in the charges. Every case is unique, but some general information should help you understand how drug crimes work in North Carolina.

Arrested on Drug Charges in North Carolina? You need a criminal defense lawyer to help with your case. Reach out to us for a free consultation.

Overview of Drug Crimes in North Carolina

There are a number of ways a person’s interactions with controlled substances can lead to criminal charges. The nature of the charges you face under North Carolina drug laws depends on the type of substance, based upon the state’s categorization system, the North Carolina Drug Schedules:

federal drug charges

North Carolina Drug Schedules

  • Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. They include heroin, ecstasy, peyote, opiates, and other substances.
  • Schedule II controlled substances also have a high potential for abuse. But they do have medical uses. There are restrictions on these drugs because of issues with dependence. Opium, cocaine, morphine, and methadone are examples.
  • Schedule III drugs have less potential for abuse and have an accepted use in medicine, but there is the potential for dependence. This group includes some barbiturates, ketamine, and anabolic steroids.
  • Schedule IV substances present limited potential for abuse or dependence. Valium, Xanax, Rohypnol fall into this category.
  • Schedule V drugs are available over-the-counter, but these are illegal because they have potential for abuse.
  • Schedule VI substances have low potential for abuse and have no accepted medical use. Despite initiatives in other states, marijuana does not have a medically accepted use in North Carolina and is still a controlled substance.

In addition, North Carolina drug crime charges depend on the type of activity:

Types of Charges

  • Possession of Controlled Substance: Knowing possession of a controlled substance, whether actual or constructive, can be a felony or a misdemeanor. This depends on the nature of the substance and whether the person charged has any prior convictions related to drugs.
  • Sale or Delivery of Controlled Substance: A person who knowingly sells or delivers a controlled substance to another person, in exchange for cash, services, or other items of value.
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: Using or possessing objects with the intent to use them for the ingestion or consumption of controlled substances is illegal. In addition, it’s a crime to plant, manufacture, compound, or otherwise develop a drug for consumption by another person.
  • Manufacture of a Controlled Substance: Producing or processing a controlled substance with intent to distribute it to others.
  • Trafficking: It’s a crime to sell, deliver, or transport controlled substances to another person. It is also illegal to distribute them when mixing or compounding takes place with the sale.

Penalties for Drug Crimes

In some ways, sentencing for a drug offense in North Carolina follows the typical structure for misdemeanor or felony crimes. However, the law punishes drug crimes more seriously. It allows for mandatory minimum prison terms for some offenders. Except for Schedule I controlled substances and repeat offenses, you will face a misdemeanor for possession. The crime is a Class I Misdemeanor that carries a possible sentence of 45 days in jail.

Trafficking Drug Felony Offenses

When circumstances indicate that you may be trafficking in a controlled substance, you will face felony charges that always fall under mandatory minimum sentencing.

  • Class H Felony: The minimum jail time is 25 months, with a maximum of 30 months incarceration. There is also a minimum fine of $5,000.
  • Class G Felony: A minimum sentence of 35 months in jail applies, though a judge could sentence up to 42 months’ incarceration. Plus, the minimum fine is $25,000.
  • Class F Felony: A judge must sentence up to 70 months in prison, with a maximum of 84 months. The applicable fine is $50,000.
  • Class D Felony: A conviction requires the judge to sentence 175 months in prison, but he or she may order up to 219 months. The minimum fine is $200,000.

It may be possible to avoid incarceration on a drug trafficking conviction by providing “substantial assistance” to authorities in helping to apprehend others. To be sure, the judge may deviate from the mandatory minimum imprisonment term if he or she is satisfied with the assistance. Furthermore, in some cases, the judge can even order probation.

Consult with our Drug Crime Defense Attorneys

As you can see, the consequences for a conviction on drug crimes in North Carolina are considerable. With mandatory minimum sentencing structures in place, your options for a reduction in jail time are limited unless you have an experienced lawyer to fight for your rights. If you’re facing charges related to controlled substances, please contact the drug crime defense lawyers at Tarlton Polk Law. Our attorneys have represented many clients in your position, helping them obtain the best possible result. We can schedule a consultation to review your case and then tell you more about your options.