Drug Crimes

What is a “Drug”?

In the criminal justice arena, the word “drug” means any illicit substance as defined by either state or federal law. There are extensive lists of illicit drugs in Chapter 90 of the North Carolina General Statutes and 21 United States Code Chapter 13. Interestingly, as new drugs arise and appear on the Federal banned substances list, North Carolina law contains a “catchall” provision that bans any substance banned by federal law even though it is not specifically listed in Chapter 90.

It is important to remember that all drugs are not created equally. Drugs are classified into six schedules that are ranked based on where they fall according to eight characteristics such as the potential for abuse, evidence of pharmacological effect, the history of the drug and pattern of abuse, risk to public health, and whether the drug is a precursor of another controlled substance. Schedule I drugs are classified as drugs that have a high potential for abuse or no currently accepted medical use. Schedule VI drugs are those that have no accepted medical use or pose a relatively low risk of abuse or safety to the public health. Examples of common drugs in each of North Carolina’s Schedules of these drug are as follows:

Schedule I

  • Opiates (Heroin or Morphine)
  • Hallucinogenic Substances like MMDA and MDMA
  • Mescaline (“peyote”)
  • Psilocybin (“shrooms”)

Schedule II

  • Opium
  • Oxycodone
  • Fentanyl
  • Amphetamine
  • Methamphetamine

Schedule III

  • Barbituates
  • Ketamine
  • Codeine
  • Testosterone

Schedule IV

  • Depressants (Xanax)
  • Stimulants (Cathine aka “Khat”)

Schedule V

  • Codeine (in lesser concentrations)
    NOTE: A Schedule V substance may be sold at a retail store without a prescription to persons over the age of 18.

Schedule VI

  • Marijuana
  • Synthetic cannabinoids

Types Of Drug Offenses

Simple Drug Possession

Possession of illegal drugs or controlled substances, for any use, is a crime in North Carolina. Individuals who are found to possess any type of illegal drug, substance, or narcotic may be facing a serious jail sentence if convicted. Simple possession implies that the defendant is possessing the drug with the intent to use it. This charge may sound simple, but depending on the drug schedule, it can be anything but. The most common charge of simple possession involves possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana, a Schedule VI substance. This charge is a Class 3 misdemeanor, the lowest possible class of misdemeanor. Occasionally though, a defendant has between one-half ounce and 1.5 ounces of marijuana. In this instance, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor and can be punished by up to 120 days in jail.

For possession of other Schedules of drugs, the penalties are as follows:

  • Possession of a Schedule I – Class I felony, unless the Schedule I substance is 1 gram or less of MDPV, in which case it is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Possession of a Schedule II, III, or IV – Class 1 misdemeanor if amount is less than 4 doses for certain drugs, Class I felony if more than 4 doses or other drugs.
  • Possession of Schedule V – Class 2 misdemeanor
  • Possession of Schedule VI – Class 3 misdemeanor if less than ½ ounce, Class 1 misdemeanor if between ½ and 1.5 ounces, Class I felony if more than 1/5 ounces.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

One of the most interesting conundrums in North Carolina drug laws is the fact that a defendant faces more jail time for possessing the baggie that holds his marijuana than the possession of the marijuana itself. In North Carolina, drug paraphernalia is defined as anything that can be used or is intended or designed to use to facilitate violating the Controlled Substances Act. This includes objects that can be used to cultivate, manufacture, process, prepare, test, analyze, package, store, contain, conceal, inhale, inject, or ingest a controlled substance. As you can see, this pretty much includes almost everything that is associated with the manufacture, distribution and use of controlled substance that is not the controlled substance itself.

The objects most commonly charged as drug paraphernalia include:

  • Scales
  • Baggie
  • Rolling papers
  • Pill bottles
  • Bowls & Bongs
  • Syringes
  • Needles
  • Steel Wool
  • Roach Clips

Possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and therefore is a serious offense. It is also a difficult charge for the State to prove because many items that an officer may consider drug paraphernalia are items that are legal to possess. If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance or possession of drug paraphernalia, contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today to have an experienced attorney evaluate your case and fight to keep these serious charges off your record.

Possession with Intent to Sell, Manufacture or Deliver

Drug trafficking offenses can also carry very serious federal penalties. In many cases, there are often mandatory sentences associated with these crimes. The federal government will attempt to build their case through surveillance and undercover operations involving federal agencies, such as the DEA. As a result, whether you are being investigated or already charged with a drug trafficking crime, it is imperative that you have an experienced attorney on your side. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we fight these charges directly and challenge the accusations of the federal government. Contact us today and let us fight for you.

If you are facing charges of drug possession, it is very important that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to advocate on your behalf. These charges can leave a serious mark on your life and can influence your ability to be free. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC our attorneys have years of experience handling these types of cases and will provide an aggressive defense on your behalf.

The production or sale of marijuana is also illegal in North Carolina. Similarly, the penalties will vary depending on the amount of marijuana produced or sold. According to North Carolina statute, these penalties can also apply even when the marijuana has not actually been sold. All that is required is the intent to sell or the act of conspiring to sell with more than one person. The following are the possible penalties:

  • Up 10 lbs. = Up to $5,000 fine, up to 1 year prison time, or both.
  • 10 to 50 lbs.. Up to $500 fine, 25-30 months prison time, or both.
  • 50 to 2,000 lbs. Up to $25,000 fine, 35-42 months prison time, or both.
  • 2,000 to 10,000 lbs. Up to $50,000 fine, 70-84 months prison time, or both.
  • 10,000+ lbs. Up to $200,000 fine, 179-219 months prison time, or both.
Contact Us Today

Even if you are only under investigation, our attorneys can help protect your privacy and daily activities from out of hand investigations. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our criminal defense attorneys have years of experience fighting drug charges and are prepared to defend you. Contact our office today today and let our attorneys protect your legal rights and help you to avoid jail time.

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Blog - Drug Crimes