If you are facing criminal charges in North Carolina for drug use, possession, or trafficking, what you do next could have an immeasurable impact on your future. You may be facing a misdemeanor or it might be a felony, depending mostly on how much drugs were involved in the alleged crime and what sort of drug it was. It also matters whether you are believed to have had the drugs on your possession for personal use or if it appears that you were intending to sell or distribute the drugs. Finally, the level of crime and the associated penalties can be different depending on how many times you’ve been convicted of other drug charges. Prior convictions can quickly turn a misdemeanor into a felony.
Ignorance of the Law or Relevant Factors is Not a Valid Defense for Drug Crimes
It is important to be aware that you cannot use ignorance as a defense when you are facing criminal charges in North Carolina. You might wish to say that you didn’t know the given drug was illegal, that you were unaware of the age of the person you distributed it to (as distributing to minors is a worse crime), or that you didn’t know the person was pregnant (also a worse crime than other forms of distribution). None of this matters. Ignorance of the laws or any relevant factors in your case will not minimize your guilt or offer an adequate defense for your innocence.
Even Misdemeanor Drug Charges Can Have a Significant Impact on Your Future
It is common for people to believe that they will not experience a terrible negative impact from a crime that is deemed to be a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is certainly better than a felony, but it will still impact your future in a variety of unpleasant ways. While you may be glad to avoid jail time and have less damaging and costly consequences, a misdemeanor can still follow you in ways you might not expect. For instance, you might not be able to find work or a place to live. You might not be able to get any loans for future goals, and your conviction might impact your rights to your children.
A prime example of this is a woman who was facing a felony drug charge, but was able to get it reduced to a misdemeanor because she had no prior convictions. This is someone with a degree and plans for her future. Yet, the misdemeanor conviction put a stop to those plans. She was never able to pursue a career with her degree and was never able to purchase a house. This is not an isolated example; there are plenty of people with misdemeanor drug convictions who have never been able to get past them.
This is just one reason that you would be wise to contact a North Carolina criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if you are facing drug charges. It may seem, at this point, to be a lost cause, as you may think that a misdemeanor is the best possible outcome for your case. Yet, this might not be true, depending on the circumstances and the legal representation you have.
North Carolina Leaves Room for Second Chances
So, how might you avoid having a drug crime conviction on your record? Take advantage of North Carolina’s second chance programs and options. If you have prior drug convictions, then you won’t be able to take advantage of these options; but if this is your first offense, you may have the opportunity to avoid charges, or have them deferred until such time as you can complete the programs and community service, and get your fines paid. If you succeed in this, without getting into any more legal troubles in the process, then you may be able to have your charges completely dismissed. In some cases, you will be able to have the charges expunged from your record.
North Carolina offers misdemeanor first offender programs, felony first offender programs, specific drug and alcohol treatment programs, and a conditional discharge program. To find out if you are eligible for a program like this and what will be required of you to complete it, contact a North Carolina criminal defense attorney to discuss the details of your case and what the options are.
The NC Criminal Defense Lawyers at Remington & Dixon Are Here For You
Facing drug charges can be a scary situation, and you should not try to face it alone. You need support, guidance, and skilled representation to minimize the consequences and damage to your future. The experienced and professional criminal defense attorneys in Charlotte at Remington & Dixon Attorneys and Counselors at Law can help you to make the most of the programs available to you and ensure that your rights are protected.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.