What Are the Minimum Penalties for First-Time Drug Trafficking Offenders?

Drug trafficking charges are serious in North Carolina and can lead to lengthy jail sentences. It's vital to seek legal counsel immediately if you're under investigation or have been arrested. Don't agree to any interviews without an attorney present, as anything you say can be used against you in court. A skilled criminal defense attorney can provide legal guidance, investigate the case, develop a defense strategy, negotiate plea deals, and advocate for you in court. Obtaining legal representation early can improve your chances of achieving the best possible outcome in a drug charges case.

Contact a Charlotte Drug Trafficking Attorney Today

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our primary goal is to provide exceptional legal representation to clients facing drug trafficking and other criminal charges. We understand that facing such charges can be overwhelming and may seem impossible, but we firmly believe that every individual has rights that must be protected. When you choose to work with our firm, you can trust that we will be dedicated to pursuing the best possible outcome for your case.

We recognize the gravity of the situation you are facing, and our experienced team of attorneys is well-prepared to handle complex and challenging criminal cases. We have the necessary resources, knowledge, and skills to build a compelling and aggressive legal defense strategy tailored to the unique circumstances of your situation.

Our approach involves:

  • Thorough investigation and analysis of the evidence.
  • Identifying any weaknesses in the prosecution's case.
  • Exploring all possible legal avenues for your defense.

We will advocate tirelessly on your behalf, ensuring that your rights are safeguarded at every step of the legal process.

We understand the impact of criminal charges on your life, and we are committed to providing you with the support and guidance you need during this difficult time. Our dedication to our clients goes beyond just providing legal services; we strive to be responsive, compassionate, and communicative throughout the entirety of your case.

If you are facing drug trafficking or other criminal charges, we invite you to take the first step toward a strong defense by contacting our firm for a free case evaluation. During this consultation, we will listen to your side of the story, assess the details of your case, and discuss potential legal strategies. We believe in fighting relentlessly for our clients, and we are ready to stand by your side to protect your rights and pursue the most favorable outcome possible. Don't hesitate to reach out to Arnold & Smith, PLLC, and let us fight for you.

What Constitutes Drug Trafficking in North Carolina?

Many people in North Carolina believe that drug trafficking charges only apply to those who manufacture and sell drugs or transport them across state lines. However, this is not entirely true. Possessing a significant amount of an illegal substance, even without evidence of selling or transportation, can lead to drug trafficking charges.

North Carolina's anti-drug trafficking law, defined in North Carolina § 90-95, aims to prevent the large-scale possession, transportation, and distribution of controlled substances. This law prohibits manufacturing, selling, distributing, and possessing controlled or counterfeit controlled substances.

Drug trafficking charges are more severe than other drug-related charges because they carry mandatory minimum prison sentences upon conviction. The severity of the charge depends on the quantity of the drug in possession. North Carolina categorizes drugs into different controlled substance schedules based on factors such as addictiveness, medical use, potential for abuse, and legitimate medical problems.

Various illegal substances can result in drug trafficking charges, including marijuana, opioids, cocaine, LSD, methamphetamine, and heroin. The weight of the controlled substance associated with drug trafficking charges varies depending on the specific substance. For example, possession of 10 pounds of marijuana or 28 grams of cocaine or methamphetamine could lead to drug trafficking charges.

The weights specified in the law indicate the minimum threshold for a drug trafficking charge. For instance, possessing 10 pounds of marijuana would result in a class H felony, while possession of 50 pounds of marijuana would be classified as a more severe class G felony. For example, the weights differ but are specific for different substances, such as the following:

  • 10 lbs of marijuana
  • 28 g of cocaine
  • 28g of methamphetamines
  • 4g of heroin or other opioids
  • 100 units of LSD
  • 28g of MDMA

If you are facing drug trafficking charges, it is up to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly sold, delivered, or possessed the controlled substance. Therefore, it is crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney who can build a strong defense strategy and protect your rights throughout the legal process.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences in North Carolina

Drug trafficking offenses in North Carolina come with mandatory minimum prison sentences, which can be as long as 225 months. The length of the sentence is determined by the amount and type of drug in possession. For instance, if convicted of drug trafficking involving 28 to 200 grams of cocaine, the mandatory minimum prison sentence is 35 months. However, if the amount is over 400 grams, the minimum penalty is 175 months. 

Trafficking opiates, opium, fentanyl, and heroin carries even more severe minimum sentences. If convicted of drug trafficking involving 4 to 14 grams of these substances, the mandatory minimum sentence is 70 months. For amounts over 28 grams, the minimum penalty is 225 months. The law sets these mandatory minimum sentences, and judges have limited discretion in imposing drug trafficking sentences. The aim is to deter drug trafficking and penalize those involved in large-scale drug distribution or possession.

It is essential for individuals facing drug trafficking charges to seek immediate experienced legal representation. A criminal defense lawyer can examine the specifics of the case, explore potential defenses, and negotiate with the prosecution for a possible reduction of charges or more favorable sentencing outcomes. The knowledge and expertise of an attorney can help protect the rights of the accused and ensure a fair legal process, especially given the severity of these penalties.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Drug trafficking convictions in North Carolina can have long-lasting consequences. They can result in the loss of gun ownership, difficulty finding housing and employment, and social stigmatization. Seeking guidance from experienced criminal defense attorneys is crucial. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, they offer free case evaluations and dedicated representation to protect your rights.