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State Methamphetamine Offenses

United States law, both at the federal and state level, make it a crime to be in possession of any illegal drug or controlled substance. For this reason, all drug-related charges are serious crimes and can lead to stiff fines and severe penalties. North Carolina, as well as other states in the nation, considers methamphetamine a dangerous and illegal substance; those charged with possession in Monroe and the surrounding areas will likely face life-changing penalties.

The federal government passed the Methamphetamine Epidemic Act back in 2005, in an effort to create tougher restrictions on the any legal uses of the drug as well as harsher penalties on the illegal use of the drug. Since 2005, the mere possession of some of methamphetamine’s chemical makeup – commonly referred to as its “precursors” – can still result in drug charges related to the possession the illegal substance. Precursors include any over-the-counter drugs or chemicals that are used in the production of methamphetamine.

Schedule Classifications of Drugs

Commonly referred to as “meth”, the drug methamphetamine is an extremely addictive stimulant. The drug meth is chemically similar to amphetamine. Some street names for methamphetamine include crystal, chalk, or ice. These names refer to the drug’s characteristics which include being a white and odorless crystalline powder. While methamphetamine can be prescribed by a physician, its medical uses are narrow. For this reason any dose of methamphetamine that are legally prescribed are much lower than those that are often abused; these prescriptions also do not allow for refills.

North Carolina law classifies controlled substances into different schedules. The classifications begin at Schedule I and increase in number as the drugs themselves decrease in danger. Methamphetamine is considered a Class II controlled substance. In order to fall into Class II, a controlled substance must have a high risk for potential abuse, a currently medically accepted use but with severe restrictions on its medical use; and abuse of the substance can lead to severe physical or psychic dependence. The second most dangerous classification for illegal substances, Schedule II includes drugs like cocaine, opium, and oxycodone in addition to methamphetamine.

Punishments for Possession of Methamphetamine

Under North Carolina law, possessing methamphetamine in Union County without a valid prescription is a punishable offense. The penalties for violating state law, by committing possession as well as the sale, manufacture, and distribution of methamphetamine, can vary. These include:

  • Possession: Mere possession of any amount of methamphetamine is a Class I Felony, which includes six to 12 months of prison time along with monetary fines and possible loss of your driver’s license;
  • Possession with the intent to sell/manufacture: Possession with intent is a higher charge, a Class C Felony, with a prison sentence of 44 to 182 months. If the offense also included the packaging or repackaging of methamphetamine, or labeling or re-labeling of the methamphetamine container, the charge becomes a Class H Felony, with a prison sentence of four to 25 months.
  • Distribution/trafficking: The most severe criminal charge, this felony only comes into play if the accused is found with 28 grams or more of methamphetamine. Possession of 28 to 199 grams of the drug is a Class F Felony, with 70 to 84 months of prison time and a $50,000 monetary fine. Possession of 200 to 399 grams of the drug is a Class E Felony, with 90 to 117 months of prison time and a $100,000 monetary fine. Possession of any amount of methamphetamine over 400 grams is a Class G Felony, with 225 to 279 months of prison time and a monetary fine of $250,000.

While the above are typical penalties under the usual sentencing guidelines in Monroe, North Carolina, those who are repeat drug crime offenders are often subject to harsher sentencing as a result of prior violations of the law. The same is true when it comes to federal law addressing drug crimes, although federal judges also have sentencing guidelines that they follow when determining the appropriate punishment for someone accused and convicted of a drug crime.

Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney

Drug offenses - particularly those involving methamphetamine possession - are serious crimes under both North Carolina and federal laws. Facing drug charges in Union County or anywhere else in the state can impact not just the accused but his or her entire family. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have the legal knowledge to defend those accused of drug charges. We will ensure your rights and interests are protected throughout this difficult time.