Marijuana Crimes

Although eleven states have legalized the use and possession of recreational marijuana, marijuana is illegal in North Carolina. Even the use of medical marijuana is illegal in Charlotte and throughout North Carolina. Individuals cannot grow, possess, sell, distribute, or ingest marijuana or cannabis products. Those who do face serious criminal penalties. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our criminal defense lawyers have helped many clients successfully defend against criminal marijuana charges. Contact our Charlotte law firm today to learn how we can effectively defend you against marijuana charges.

Marijuana-Related Criminal Charges

Most marijuana-related charges are misdemeanors in North Carolina with penalties of less than a year of prison time. However, when the quantity of marijuana is large enough, the crime can become a felony charge. In North Carolina, marijuana-related charges include the following:

  • Possession with intent to distribute marijuana
  • Possession of marijuana
  • Distribution and sale of marijuana
  • Possession of marijuana paraphernalia
Simple Possession of Marijuana in North Carolina

Possession of marijuana can be a misdemeanor charge or a felony charge, depending on the quantity of marijuana involved. Defendants who possess less than .5 ounces of marijuana or cannabis products will be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor. Convicted defendants might be able to avoid jail time and must pay a $200 fine.

When law enforcement officers see drug or marijuana paraphernalia during the arrest, the defendant might face two separate criminal charges with the possibility of more jail time and higher fines. When an individual possesses between .5 and 1.5 ounces, he or she will face a Class I misdemeanor charge, punishable by a fine and up to 120 days in jail.

Actual Possession and Constructive Possession of Marijuana in North Carolina

Prosecutors use two different methods of proving the crime of marijuana possession in North Carolina. The first is to prove actual possession of marijuana. A suspect actually possesses marijuana when law enforcement finds marijuana that is actually on the suspect’s person. A suspect with marijuana in his or her hand or pocket is in actual possession of marijuana. Prosecutors can also prove constructive possession. A suspect had constructive possession of marijuana when the marijuana is in a place he or she can use it, access it, or dispose of it. Constructive possession means the individual has control over the marijuana. One of the best defenses against marijuana possession charges is to argue that you were not in actual or constructive possession of marijuana.

Penalties for Marijuana-Related Charges in North Carolina

Marijuana-related charges can range from misdemeanors to felony charges, depending on the severity. Misdemeanor charges come with jail sentences of less than a year. However, misdemeanor charges can have a negative impact on a defendant’s life. Receiving a misdemeanor conviction can make it difficult to secure a job, take out student loans, or secure rental housing.

Felony Marijuana Charges in North Carolina

Defendants who possess 1.5 ounces or more of marijuana face felony marijuana charges in North Carolina. Even first-time marijuana possession offenses are prosecuted as a felony when they involve 1.5 ounces or more. Those convicted face between three and 12 months of imprisonment as well as fines and probation. Defendants with more than 10 pounds of cannabis face marijuana trafficking charges which are even more serious and can result in 20 years or more in prison, depending on the amount of marijuana possessed.

Our Marijuana Defense Lawyers can Help

In many cases, prosecutors try to intimidate defendants in order to secure a plea bargain. In a plea bargain, the defendant would plead guilty in exchange for a less severe charge. A skilled defense attorney can fight for your best interests and negotiate with the prosecutor. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we will advise you as to your best defense strategy and help to ensure that state prosecutors do not take advantage of you. Defense strategies may include one or more of the following:

  • Law enforcement engaged in an unconstitutional search and seizure of the suspect’s vehicle or home
  • The marijuana charges arose from a traffic stop that was unconstitutional because the law enforcement officer did not have the necessary reasonable suspicion to pull you over
  • The law enforcement officers weighed the marijuana incorrectly
  • The drug-sniffing dogs are unreliable

If you are facing a marijuana charge in North Carolina, our lawyers can help. Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible is essential to gather information and prepare a persuasive legal defense. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today to schedule your free initial consultation.