Drug Crimes

If you live in North Carolina, you may be facing or know someone who is facing a drug crime charge. In the legal field, particularly criminal defense, the term ‘drug’ refers to any illicit substance that is defined by federal or state law. Extensive lists of illicit drugs can be found in Chapter 90 of North Carolina General Statutes as well as Chapter 13 of the United States Code. Under federal law, new drugs are added to the illicit drug list, while North Carolina law has a catchall provision making any substance that is banned by federal law illegal under state law whether or not it is listed within Chapter 90 of the North Carolina General Statutes.

Defining Illicit Drugs

Under the law, drugs are classified into six different schedules, ranked by eight characteristics. The characteristics used to rank and classify the drugs include risk to public health, potential for abuse, history of the drug and pattern of its abuse, evidence of pharmacological effect, and whether or not the drug is a gateway to another controlled substance. Accordingly, drugs that are classified into Schedule I are considered to have no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse or high risk of safety to the public’s health. On the other hand, drugs that are classified as Schedule VI are ones that also are considered to have no currently accepted medical use but pose a relatively low risk of abuse or risk of safety to the public’s health. Below are examples of common drugs listed in North Carolina’s schedule of illicit drugs under Chapter 90.

  • Schedule I Drugs: Opiates (such as morphine or heroin), mescaline (peyote), psilocybin (shrooms), and hallucinogenic substances (MMDA and MDMA);
  • Schedule II Drugs: Oxycodone, fentanyl, opium, methanmphetamine, and amphetamine;
  • Schedule III Drugs: Ketamine, codeine, barbiturates, and testosterone;
  • Schedule IV Drugs: Stimulants (khat or cathine) and depressants (xanax);
  • Schedule V Drugs: Lesser concentrations of codeine and other substances that may be sold at a retail store without the need of a prescription to individuals over the age of 18;
  • Schedule VI: Synthetic cannabinoids and marijuana.
North Carolina Drug Offenses

North Carolina makes it a crime for someone to be in possession of controlled substances, no matter the intended use. Someone who is found in possession of an illegal substance, drug, or narcotic may face serious jail time if convicted of the charge. The most common type of drug charge is referred to as simple possession. Simple possession means the accused is found in possession of the drug with the intent to use. While this may sound like a simple charge, the level of criminal charges depend on how the drug is classified under the schedule. Specifically, the charges for possession of:

  • Schedule I: Class I felony unless the substance is one gram or less which drops the charge to a class 1 misdemeanor;
  • Schedule II, III or IV: Class 1 misdemeanor if the amount found is less than four doses of certain drugs, otherwise a class I felony if more than this amount;
  • Schedule V: Class 2 misdemeanor;
  • Schedule VI: Class 3 misdemeanor if found with less than half an ounce, class 1 misdemeanor if found with an amount between half and ounce and one-and-a-half ounces, class I felony if found with more than one-fifth of an ounce.
Drug Paraphernalia

Under North Carolina law, an accused potentially faces more jail time if found in possession of drug paraphernalia than if he or she just had been found with the drug by itself. State law defines drug paraphernalia as any item that can be used, is designed to use, or is intended to use to facilitate violation of drug laws. Therefore, paraphernalia includes objects used to process, prepare, manufacture, cultivate, analyze, package, test, contain, store, conceal, inject, inhale, or ingest a controlled substance - in short, any item that is relevant to the manufacturing, distribution, and use of controlled substances except the actual drugs themselves. The most commonly found and charged drug paraphernalia includes needles, syringes, scales, baggies, pill bottles, rolling papers, roach clips, steel wool, as well as bowls and bongs. North Carolina law makes possession of drug paraphernalia a class 1 misdemeanor.

Drug Crime Defense

If you or someone you know is facing charges of drug possession, drug paraphernalia possession, or drug trafficking in North Carolina, it is vital that you have an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney on your side. The skilled attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have years of experience fighting drug charges and will challenge the government’s accusations against you. Prosecutors will build their case against you; make sure you have a skilled criminal defense attorney fighting for your rights. Contact us today to schedule your initial case evaluation.