Marijuana remains classified as an illegal drug on a federal level. However, many states have taken steps to legalize or decriminalize marijuana possession. In North Carolina, marijuana possession remains illegal. If you are caught with marijuana, here are some things that you should know.
North Carolina Laws for Marijuana Possession
Marijuana is considered a Schedule VI substance, which is the lowest of severity for controlled substances in the state. Often, marijuana possession has lighter sentences than more addictive or abused drugs like cocaine, meth, and heroin. Despite this, there are still significant penalties for marijuana possession that should not be taken lightly.
Penalties for Marijuana Possession Vary
The penalties that you could expect to pay for marijuana possession charges in North Carolina depend on the amount found and whether the marijuana was for personal use or with the intent to distribute.
Most personal use marijuana possession charges are misdemeanors. If you’re caught with half an ounce or less, you can expect to pay a $200 fine. For half an ounce to 1.5 ounces, there is a $1,000 fine and up to 45 days of jail time. If you have more than 1.5 ounces, it is considered a felony with up to 8 months of jail time.
Felony marijuana possession charges with the intent to distribute carry mandatory minimum jail sentences. This means that if convicted, there is a minimum amount of time that you will spend in jail. For this reason, it is important to consult with a drug crimes attorney in North Carolina to build a strong defense.
Some mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana possession in North Carolina:
● Between 10 pounds and 50 pounds has a 25-month minimum sentence and a $5,000 fine
● Between 50 pounds and 2,000 pounds has a 35-month minimum sentence and a $25,000 fine
● Between 2,000 pounds and 10,000 pounds has a 70-month minimum sentence and a $50,000 fine
● More than 10,000 pounds has a 175-month minimum sentence and a $200,000 fine
There are other marijuana possession-related charges that carry hefty fines and jail time in North Carolina. These include:
● Sale or delivery of marijuana
● Sale of marijuana to a minor or a pregnant woman
● Sale of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a child care facility or public park
● Cultivation marijuana plants
● Possession of hash, concentrates, or paraphernalia
The Importance of Intent
Having a large amount of marijuana in your possession does not necessarily mean that you were planning on selling it. A charge for the intent to sell marijuana should include law enforcement officially finding other materials required to distribute marijuana such as plastic bags and scales. If a larger volume of marijuana was found without these other items, your drug crimes attorney could build a case that you did not have the intent to sell or deliver the drug and should have a lesser charge.
An important consideration when assessing the penalties for marijuana possession in North Carolina is whether you have a history of prior convictions. If this is your first offense, it will be easier to try to demand leniency than if you have a criminal record. No matter what your background is, you can discuss the impact of those convictions on your current case with a lawyer to determine how to best build a strong case.
Probation vs. Jail Time
The ultimate goal of having an experienced attorney by your side during sentencing is to get leniency. Ideally, you wouldn’t be convicted. However, if you are convicted, your lawyer will argue for probation instead of jail time in a state facility. This might make it possible to continue working and caring for your family even in spite of the conviction. For many people, spending months or years away from family is the worst part. This could potentially help to eliminate that concern.
Consult a Drug Crimes Attorney in North Carolina
All criminal offenses should be taken seriously. The sooner that you involve an experienced attorney in your case, the more options that you might have available to you legally. If you or a loved one have been charged with marijuana possession, contact the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley at (919) 832-0307 or by using the online form. You can discuss your case and decide on what to do next during your initial consultation. Dewey P. Brinkley has experience fighting wrongful charges.