While most drug crimes are focused on so called “controlled substances” such as trafficking heroin and cocaine, North Carolina has a set of criminal offenses for toxic fumes. These toxic fumes are not explicitly controlled substances, but can have hazardous affects on people when inhaled, sold, transported, or otherwise used.
This may not seem like a particular threat to most people not engaging in drug activities, but these charges have the potential to catch people by surprise. These substance can be present in things or places you are not aware of, and while the law requires more than simple possession to prove guilt, this can still get you in legal trouble without skilled representation.
What are Toxic Substances?
Many substances may be considered “toxic”, especially in this day and age of using scientific or clinical terms as buzzwords. Fortunately, North Carolina law specifies the kinds of substances that may be criminalized here, so you do not have to worry if you can face charges for fizzy cola because a health blogger said it was poison.
Under the toxic fumes statute, N.C.G.S § 90-113.10, a toxic substance is any compound, liquid, or chemical containing:
- Cyclohexanone: an organic compound usually used in making nylon.
- Ethyl Alcohol: The form of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, also called ethanol. Can be vaporized and used as an inhalant for greater intoxication than drinking.
- Hexane: an organic compound that makes up a significant part of gasoline.
- Isopropanol: also called isopropyl alcohol, widely used for antiseptics and detergents, but can be burned and inhaled to induce intoxication.
- Methyl Cellosolve Acetate: an organic compound used in a lot of varnishes, dyes and resins.
- Methyl Isobutyl Ketone: an organic compound used in gumns, resins, paints, varnishes, and lacquers.
- Toluol: an aromatic hydrocarbon used in paint thinners, permanent markers, and some cements.
- any other substance that has reasonable grounds to be used to induce intoxication.
What Actions Constitute a Toxic Fumes Offense?
You can be guilty of a criminal offense if you do any of the following in relation to any of the above toxic fumes:
- Inhaling for the purposes of getting intoxicated.
- Possession for the purpose of later inhaling for intoxication.
- Possession with intent to sell for the purpose of other people using it for intoxication.
- Selling, offering to sell, delivering or giving for the purpose of the other person using it for intoxication.
A conviction of any of the above is punished as a class 1 misdemeanor.
What Should I do if I am Charged with a Toxic Fumes Offense?
The first thing to do if you are ever arrested in any scenario is to not panic and acquire a defense attorney to represent you. Even if you know you are innocent and do not think the penalties for this crime are very serious, self-incrimination and mishandling of a criminal case can lead to far more severe consequences and potentially even more damning criminal charges.
If you are facing charges for a toxic fumes offense, reach out to our experienced defense lawyers for help.