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What Does Intent to Sell Mean for North Carolina Drug Charges?

Cases involving the intent to sell controlled substances are some of the most common criminal drug charges prosecuted in North Carolina. There are serious consequences for intending to sell illegal drugs that are much more severe than mere possession of drugs. Prosecutors must prove that the defendant intended to sell the drugs in their possession to convict a defendant of intent to sell. If you are facing drug charges, contact the skilled attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation.

The Elements of Intent to Sell Controlled Substances

Concerning controlled substances, selling means exchanging drugs for something of value. Something of value can be cash or another object of value, such as jewelry. In North Carolina, you can face intent to sell charges when the following elements have been met:

  • Unlawful possession of a controlled substance
  • The knowledge of a controlled substance being in your possession
  • The intention to sell the controlled substance
The Definition of Controlled Substances

A controlled substance is a chemical or drug that is regulated by a state government or the federal government. Possessing and selling controlled substances without a license in North Carolina is illegal. The classification of the controlled substance is based on its potential for abuse and addiction. For example, Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous because they have the highest potential for abuse, and there are currently no accepted medical uses for them.

On the other hand, Schedule VI controlled substances are the least likely to become addictive and have some accepted medical uses. Marijuana is an example of a Schedule VI drug. The penalties associated with drug crimes involving Schedule I controlled substances are the most severe.

The Difference Between Possession and Intent to Sell

Regarding drug offenses, there is a significant difference between possessing an illegal controlled substance and the intent to sell. In North Carolina, simple possession is a misdemeanor-level crime. Possession with the intent to sell is a separate, more serious crime considered a felony in North Carolina and most other states.

Generally, when a defendant faces charges for possession of a controlled substance with the intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver (PWISMD) occurs when a law enforcement officer believes that the person has drugs in their possession with the intent to sell. Several different factors can influence what specific charge a prosecutor decides to pursue.

Prosecutors Must Prove Intent

The prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to sell or distribute the controlled substance to convict a defendant of intent to sell. The prosecutor does not need to prove that you sold drugs but only that you intended to sell drugs. If you have been charged with this crime, it is crucial that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.

An attorney can begin gathering evidence that shows that the prosecution cannot prove you have the requisite intent to convict you. There are factors outside of the possession of a controlled substance that can indicate possession with the intent to sell or distribute. These factors are called circumstantial evidence. Prosecutors use these factors to prove your guilt in a court of law. Some of the factors the prosecutor may use to try to convict you include the following:

  • Possession of packaging of controlled substances
  • Possession of large quantities of controlled substances
  • Scales
  • Ziplock bags or other small plastic containers
  • Multiple cell phones
  • Notebooks or ledgers detailing drug transactions
  • Pagers or beepers
  • Weapons such as guns
  • Chemicals used to manufacture drugs
  • Prescription drugs that a medical professional has not prescribed
The Penalties for Intent to Sell in North Carolina

The penalty for possessing controlled substances with intent to sell depends on the drug’s classification as a controlled substance. For more severe controlled substances, such as Schedule I or II substances, the penalty is a Class H felony that is punishable by four to 25 months in prison. When the substance in question is classified as Schedule III, IV, V, or VI, the charge is considered a Class I felony punishable by three to 12 months in prison.

Legal Defenses

The best legal defense will depend on the factors of your unique case. Constitutional violations could lead to evidence against you being dismissed. Unlawful custody of evidence and failing to prove a chain of custody can also help bolster your defense. Your attorney may argue that you were not in possession of the drugs or that you purchased the drugs for personal use.

Discuss Your Case With a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina

Working with a skilled attorney is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your legal rights. The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, have a proven track record of aggressively defending clients in a wide range of cases, including possession with intent to sell. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more.