Charlotte Drug Charge Lawyer
Controlled substances in North Carolina are strictly regulated. It is illegal in the state to do any of the following in regards to a controlled substance:
- Sell; or
- Manufacture or cultivate.
The penalties that are associated with each of the drug crimes listed above are dependent on both the amount of drug that is possessed/distributed/sold/manufactured/cultivated as well as the type of drug involved in the crimes.
- Drug possession charges: The possession of drugs is the least severe drug offense, although the penalties for this crime type are not light. Possession of schedule I drugs (such as ecstasy or heroin) is considered to be a class 1 felony, which carries a penalty of prison time as well as a fine. Possession of schedule VI drugs, on the other hand, such as marijuana, is a much less serious drug charge. While this offense can still result in jail time of up to 30 days, it is considered to be a class 3 misdemeanor.
- Drug distribution and sale: Distributing or selling drugs in North Carolina can carry harsh penalties. Even distributing a schedule VI drug can be a serious crime – if accused of selling or distributing more than 50 pounds, but less than 2,000, the crime would be considered a class G felony. For a class G felony, a person may be penalized by a fine of up to $25,000 and face prison time of up to 42 months. If charged with the distribution or sale of other drugs, such as cocaine, or in greater amounts, the penalties can be much more serious.
- Drug manufacturer or cultivation: Manufacturing a drug (i.e. methamphetamine) or cultivating a drug (i.e. marijuana) is a felony drug charge, regardless of the type of drug or the amount that is being manufactured or cultivated. However, the class of felony, and therefore the penalty, is dependent upon the drug type and amount. For example, the cultivation of less than 10 pounds of marijuana is a felony drug charge that carries up to eight months in prison; the manufacture of methamphetamines is a class C felony, which is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and prison time of up to 279 months. If the methamphetamines were packaged or repackaged, but not manufactured by the defendant, the offense is considered to be a class H felony, per North Carolina General Statutes section 90-95, which is a less serious offense.
Being charged with a drug crime can change your life, even if the crime was only possession of marijuana. Drug convictions will go on your permanent criminal record, and can impair your future opportunities. To learn more about defenses to drug charges in Charlotte, it is essential that you speak with a criminal lawyer.
Drug Crimes in Charlotte, North Carolina
When it comes to alleged drug activity and drug crimes in Charlotte, North Carolina, there are a number of different kinds of felony criminal offenses that you could be charged with. The offenses range from lower level felonies such as drug possession, to the higher-level felonies like drug trafficking. If you have been charged with a drug offense, you will face serious consequences. Depending on the crime you are charged with, the potential punishment might range from probation up to mandatory jail time of 20 years or more. This goes for first time offenders, too. If you are charged with a drug crime, you will need the backing of a drug crime lawyer.
What Is Considered a Controlled Substance?
Simply put, a controlled substance is a drug. Drugs are classified as a Schedule I, II, III, IV, V, or a VI controlled substance. While Schedule I controlled substances are the most dangerous, Schedule VI drugs are considered to be the least dangerous. For any type of drug conviction, from possession all the way to trafficking, the potential punishment tends to depend on the classification of the illegal substance involved, and a drug charge lawyer will be able to defend your case accordingly.
Here is an outline of the different Schedules of illegal substances:
- Schedule 1 – these drugs are considered to have the highest potential for abuse, are not accepted for medical use, and are seen as having a lack of accepted safety. Examples are: ecstasy, heroine, and opiates.
- Schedule II – these drugs have a higher potential for abuse which can lead to psychological or physical dependence, and have some accepted medical use with restrictions. Examples are: Ritalin, codeine, opium, and cocaine.
- Schedule III – these drugs have potential for abuse, but less so than the previous schedules. They do have an accepted medical use, but abuse could lead to high psychological and low physical dependence. Examples include: anabolic steroids.
- Schedule IV – this class of drugs has a low potential for use, an accepted medical use, and abuse could lead to limited dependence. Examples include: Xanax and valium.
- Schedule V – these drugs have a lower potential for abuse and accepted medical use. Examples include over the counter cough medication that has codeine in it.
- Schedule VI – a class of drugs with a relatively low potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, such as marijuana (no medical use in NC, although other states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use).
Drug Crimes in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Terms You Need to Know
Besides having an understanding of the different Schedules of illegal substance, it is important to understand a few terms related to drug charges. While your drug possession lawyer will go through the terms with you depending on your charges, the below terms have significant meaning when it comes to discussing different drug crimes in Charlotte, N.C.
- Possession – you may have constructive or actual possession of the drugs.
- Knowingly – refers to you being aware of what you were doing. In other words, you had knowledge of a fact. That fact, in terms of drug crimes, means that you knew you were engaging in a particular activity, be it selling the drugs, possessing, manufacturing drugs, transporting the drugs, or delivering the drugs.
- Deliver – you are considered to have delivered drugs if you engage in the constructive or actual transfer of drugs to someone else.
- Sale – you have to have transferred drugs to someone else for compensation of some form, be it monetary or other items like services or jewelry.
- Constructive possession of drugs – this is when you have the intent and ability to maintain control over the drugs, even if the drugs are not on your person. While these types of cases of very much based on facts, there are a few things the court will look at when making a determination.
- Actual possession – if you have actual possession of a drug, it is on your person and you know about it.
- Transport – you have transported drugs if you carry or move them from one place to another.
- Manufacture – in drug crimes in Charlotte, N.C., you are considered to manufacture controlled substances if you:
- Engage in packaging or repackaging the substance
- Engage in labelling or relabeling drug containers
- Prepare, produce, or process the drugs
What Type of Drug Crimes Can You Be Charged with in North Carolina?
In this state, there is a vast list of potential drug crimes. Most criminal offenses, though, fall into five major categories:
- Sale or delivery
- Possession with intent to sell, deliver, or manufacture
- Sale or Delivery
The sale or delivery of a controlled substance falls in North Carolina G.S. 90-95(a)(1). A drug charge lawyer will explain that this means it is a criminal offense to knowingly deliver or sell a controlled substance to others.
The punishment for this offense tends to differ depending on whether you are convicted on the delivery of drugs or the sale of drugs:
- If you sold Schedule I or II controlled substances, it is a Class G felony and is punishable by up to 47 months imprisonment.
- If you sold Schedule III, IV, V, or VI drugs, it is a Class H felony and is punishable by up to 39 months jail time.
- If you delivered any class of controlled substance, it is considered a Class H felony, too.
Under North Carolina’s General Statute, 90-95(a)(3), it is a crime for someone to knowingly possess a controlled substance. Your drug crime attorney will determine if there are any exceptions, but typically, punishment for possession is as follows:
- Schedule I – Class I felony that is punishable with up to 24 months in prison
- Schedule II, III, IV – Class I felony with up to 24 months jail time is the amount possess is either more than 110 dosage units, capsules, or equivalent quantity; more than 4 tablets, dosage units of hydromorphone, or capsules; or any amount of cocaine, amphetamine, or methamphetamine.
- Schedule V – Class 2 misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 60 days in prison
- Schedule VI – Class I felony that can be punishable with up to 24 months in prison if the amount possessed is more than 3/20 of an ounce of hashish; more than 21 grams of synthetic cannabinoid, or more than 1 ½ ounces of marijuana. Class 3 misdemeanor if it is below ½ ounce.
It is illegal to engage in the manufacturing of drugs, particularly if you knowingly manufacture a controlled substance. It must be noted that if the manufacturing process involves compounding or even preparing, you must also act with the intent to distribute the drugs.
An experienced drug charges lawyer will be able to explain the types of punishment to you, but for manufacturing, punishment usually involves:
- Schedule I or II – this is a Class H felony and is punishable by as much as 39 months in jail
- The manufacture of methamphetamine, which is a Schedule II controlled substance, is considered a Class C felony and is punishable by up to 231 months in jail
- Schedule III, IV, V, VI – this is a Class I felony and is punishable by as much as 24 months imprisonment.
- Possession with Intent to Sell, Deliver, or Manufacture
In this state, it is a felony drug crime to knowingly possess drugs with the intent to sell, deliver, or manufacturer it. The punishment for this is:
- Schedule I or II – Class H felony that may be punishable with up to 39 months jail time
- Schedule III, IV, VI – Class I felony that may be punishable by up to 24 months in prison
Under the states G.S. 90-95(h) and (i), you have committed a drug trafficking offense when you knowingly conspire to manufacture drugs, deliver them, sell them, possess or transport a controlled substance or manufacture, deliver, sell, possess or transport a controlled substance.
Contrary to punishment of other drug crimes in Charlotte, North Caroline, drug trafficking is not punished. Rather, if you are convicted of this crime, you must be sentenced accordingly, no matter if you have a prior criminal conviction or not.
The Charlotte Drug Trafficking Corridor
In North Carolina, there is a web of interstates and highways that crisscross the state and connect major cities including Raleigh and Charlotte to Fayetteville, Greensboro, and Wilmington, along with other areas throughout the state. The I-77 and I-85 both pass through Charlotte, thereby creating thoroughfares for travelers along the East Coast.
It is this area that is highly considered a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and it is regularly targeted by state, federal, and local authorities alike as a hub for the transport of illegal controlled substance in and out of the state.
Unfortunately, this type of geographically targeted policing sometimes means that innocent people are swept up in a wide net that was cast with the intention of stopping genuine drug traffickers. What’s more, those who may commit a drug crime in N.C. will find themselves charges with trafficking when just possession with intent to deliver or sell or straight forward possession should have been the appropriate charge. If you have been charged, you will need the help of an experienced drug crime lawyer in Charlotte.
Manufacturing, distributing, selling, transporting, and possessing large quantities of drugs can be prosecuted as drug trafficking. Furthermore, if it is believed that you are working with others doing these activities, you could face criminal charges of conspiracy to traffic drugs.
Possessing the below minimum quantities of drugs may result in drug trafficking charges:
- 4 grams and more of opium or heroin
- 10 pounds or greater or marijuana
- 100 or more tablets of LSD or ecstasy
- 28 grams of cocaine or more
- 50 doses or more of synthetic cannabinoids or synthetic marijuana
In this state, drug trafficking is a criminal offense that will trigger the application of a minimum mandatory sentence. If you are convicted of trafficking, you will have to spend time in jail, regardless of whether or not this is your first offense. The situation that leads to the drug trafficking charge or even the conspiracy to traffic drugs may also result in federal drug charges and you will need the representation of a drug charges lawyer.
Drug Trafficking Penalties
In North Carolina, there is a structured sentencing system. A criminal offense is classed according to a specific level by statute. Once convicted, your criminal sentence is based on the structure system as well any past criminal history.
Overall, the minimum mandatory sentences that are levied on drug trafficking convictions tend to be significantly greater than those that fall under the structure sentencing system. For instance, a drug trafficking conviction that involves between 10 and 50 pounds of marijuana is considered to be a Class H felony and under structured sentencing guidelines, you would typically face a jail sentence of 5-6 months. However, the minimum mandatory sentence for drug trafficking a minimum of 10 pounds of marijuana, but less than 50 pounds of the substances, is a much greater 25-39 month.
Each of the mandatory minimum drug trafficking sentences mentioned above include a mandatory minimum fine, too.
Prison Time for Drug Trafficking in Charlotte
Jail time for the trafficking of drugs can add up quickly. The sentence has to be served one right after the other as opposed to at the same time as any other existing sentences for other offenses. Your drug crime lawyer will explain that you should also expect to spend a number of months under post release supervision once you complete your sentence for trafficking.
If you are not charged with drug trafficking, but rather the conspiracy to traffic, you will be sentenced at the same minimum mandatory level as the underlying crime. But, attempted drug trafficking is typically sentenced with the structured sentencing grid as opposed to the mandatory minimums. If you are convicted of attempted drug trafficking, it usually means a much lesser sentence that that for outright drug trafficking.
Can You Fight Your Drug Trafficking Charges?
If you are charged for drug trafficking, you will need to help of an experienced drug crime attorney who will use the best drug trafficking defense strategy possible in order to force the federal or state prosecutor to prove each and every element of the defense. If the prosecutor is unable to do this, your drug charge lawyer will argue for a dismissal, fight the charges at a trial, or negotiate for a plea to reduce charges, depending on the circumstances of your case.
When it comes to examining certain issues, your drug charge attorney will carefully evaluate your options and devise a defense strategy that will usually include:
- Credibility issues with any witnesses that are presented by government – the prosecutor relies on testimonies, but is the witness a snitch? Has the crime lab that is involved in the case ever been subject to any type of investigations itself?
- Weakness in the case – Can the prosecutor prove every single element of your charged offense? If there any kind of dispute as to whether or not you were in actual possession of the drugs? Is the number of drugs in question?
- Constitutional issues during your investigation – where you correctly read your rights? Was the traffic stop really unconstitutional? Were you given a drug crime attorney when you requested one?
Choosing the Right Drug Charge Lawyer for Your Case
Choosing the right lawyer is important in a drug trafficking case, or any other drug crime defense. When it comes to choosing your drug charge attorney, consider whether he or she has the experience needed handling such cases, and also whether or not he or she is licensed to practice in both federal and state courts. There are times when drug trafficking crimes, especially, can be charged as either a federal drug offense or a North Carolina offense, and you want an attorney who will be prepared for both scenarios.
If you are charged under a Charlotte, North Carolina statute, it is important to get in touch with an experienced drug charge lawyer immediately. He or she will be able to guide you through the criminal process and give you options to have the stress that a conviction may bring. Keep in mind that it is important to your drug crime case that you first consult with a drug charge attorney before even talking to the authorities.
Besides fighting the evidence when you get to trial, there are several avenues available under the state’s laws to seek an outright dismissal of your charges, especially if you are a first-time offender (except in the case of drug trafficking charges).
If you have been charged with any of the drug crimes mentioned in this article, contact our drug charge attorneys at Remington & Dixon for your legal issues. We serve North Carolina criminal defense cases and have ample experience and knowledge when it comes to drug crimes and charges. We will help you seek the best possible outcome for your charges, or fight for probation or a lesser sentence in the event that you are convicted. Contact one of our drug charge lawyers to discuss your case.