How Much Jail Time Can I Be Ordered to Serve for a Cocaine Conviction?

You are probably concerned about your future if you have been charged with a cocaine-related offense in North Carolina. You may be wondering how much jail time you could serve if you are convicted of the offense. The amount of jail time you may face depends on several factors, including the amount of cocaine involved. In North Carolina, controlled substances are classified into different schedules based on how addictive and dangerous they are when used. Schedule I substances are considered the most hazardous and addictive, and Schedule VI substances are considered the least harmful and addictive. 

Cocaine is classified as a Schedule II substance. In contrast, marijuana is considered a Schedule VI substance. As a result, the penalties for cocaine-related offenses are severe, even if you have only been charged with simple possession of cocaine. It is important that you take the charges against you seriously and work with an experienced attorney who can provide you with an effective legal defense. 

The Penalties for Cocaine Possession Depend on the Amount of Cocaine

Possession of any amount of cocaine, even a tiny amount, carries serious penalties. However, possession of a small amount of cocaine carries the least harsh penalties because a simple position is considered a Class I felony, the lowest class of felonies. The criminal code recommends a penalty of six to 12 months in prison for a first-time defendant caught with a small amount of cocaine. In reality, it is natural for a first-time offender to spend any time in prison. With the help of an experienced attorney, a first-time offender may be able to become eligible for a deferment program and avoid jail time.

Class H Felony Charges for Cocaine

If there is evidence that the defendant intended to sell or deliver cocaine, the charge will be upgraded from a Class I felony to a Class H Felony. In North Carolina, Class H felonies carry a penalty of up to 10 months in jail for first-time offenders. Those with previous criminal history can serve up to 30 months in jail if convicted. Possession with intent to sell or deliver (PWISD) is an even more severe cocaine-related offense. If the defendant is found with cocaine and other items indicating an intent to sell or distribute cocaine, they can face possession with intent to sell your delivery charges. 

Examples of items found on their person or within their proximity that could lead to these charges include a scale, cash, plastic bag, or any other item that could be linked to selling or distributing cocaine. When police officers cannot find evidence to support a possession charge with intent to sell or deliver, the prosecutor can still try to make the charge based on police surveillance or video-recorded sales with undercover informants.

The sale or distribution of cocaine is considered a Class G felony. Class G felonies carry a penalty of about 31 months in prison. If the amount of cocaine seized is more than 28 grams in weight, it is considered drug trafficking. Trafficking between 28 and 200 grams of cocaine carries a prison sentence of up to 70 months. Trafficking up to 400 grams of cocaine can be elevated to a Class F felony. If convicted, defendants face a sentence of up to 93 months in prison. Finally, if cocaine is over 400 grams, it is a Class D felony, carrying between 175 and 219 months in prison. 

Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina

Have you or your loved one been charged with a cocaine-related offense in Charlotte, North Carolina? If so, it is crucial that you hire a skilled criminal defense attorney who understands North Carolina laws and the criminal courts. The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, have extensive experience representing clients facing a wide range of federal charges, including charges related to cocaine. We know how to carefully investigate cases, gather evidence, and aggressively poke holes in the prosecution's case against you. 

We will investigate and find any constitutional violations or other problems with the search and seizure related to the charges against you. After developing an aggressive legal strategy, we will negotiate with the prosecution for the best outcome. Depending on your case, you can have the charges dismissed or reduced significantly with the help of a skilled attorney. Contact Arnold & Smith PLLC to schedule a free case evaluation.