More than 45% of imprisoned people in the US are in jail because of drug charges, about half a million people nationwide, roughly one in five. Drug charges are also one of the main reasons for incarceration in North Carolina.
When most people think of drug charges, they usually think of felony charges such as production and distribution. But since North Carolina law contains very harsh penalties for drug charges, even a misdemeanor can be a serious offense.
Types Of Charges
Generally, North Carolina has two types of drug charges: trafficking and possession, which are also graded by the type of drug involved. Possession is a lesser charge than trafficking, but both can carry very strict penalties, including fines. Possession of drug paraphernalia is also a reason you can be arrested, even if you have no drugs at the time of your arrest.
Misdemeanors are usually considered “minor,” such as simple possession of marijuana, and can lead to smaller fines and the potential for short jail sentences for first offenses. However, subsequent misdemeanors can bring additional jail time.
Charges and jail time are also related to the amount of a drug on your person at the time of your arrest. For instance, if you are carrying less than 28 grams of cocaine, a Schedule II drug, you’ll be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, and can spend six to twelve months in jail. But if you have more than 28 grams of cocaine, you’ll be charged with drug trafficking instead, which can also lead to federal charges, steeper fines and much longer jail sentences.
Schedule of Drugs
North Carolina divides drugs up into schedules, set out by the Controlled Substances Act. At the top of the schedule is Schedule 1 for the most serious of drugs that have no medical use and a high risk of abuse and addiction (opiates, ecstasy, and others) and are charged as a Class 1 Felony. On the bottom, Schedule VI drugs are a Class 3 Misdemeanor, and are for low-level substances such as marijuana and hashish, with a lower potential for addiction and abuse.
However, even small amounts of marijuana are grounds for arrest, and a misdemeanor conviction can lead to jail time, as little as 30 days or as long as six months. Felony drug charges can mean years of prison time, as well as high fines.
Consequences Of Drug Charges
An arrest and conviction for drug charges can lead to serious consequences, including:
- Loss of employment
- Loss of professional licensure (i.e., doctor, nurse, lawyer, pilot, etc.)
- Difficulty finding employment
- Difficulty finding housing (i.e., renting an apartment)
- Inability to obtain federal benefits such as student financial aid for tuition and housing assistance
- Child custody issues, including loss of visitation
Anywhere you are asked, you will be required to state that you have an arrest record, even for a misdemeanor.
Prior drug arrests can also increase fines and jail sentences. Convictions will permanently disrupt your life, and prevent you from seeking and accepting opportunities that you might have had otherwise.
Having a Raleigh drug charge defense attorney to represent you will ensure that you receive a fair trial. If you’re innocent, it’s vital that you are represented in court by an experienced lawyer who can mount an aggressive defense and ensure that your rights are protected.
Dewey P. Brinkley For Drug Related Charges in Raleigh
North Carolina drug laws are complex, and no two cases are alike. Handling drug charges yourself, without legal representation, increases your chance of losing your case and potentially receiving considerable jail time. No matter what kind of drug charges you’re facing, it’s important to have strong legal representation when you’re facing a judge and possible jail time.
Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County prosecutor who will prepare a strong defense and make sure you receive a fair trial under the law. He has considerable experience defending those charged with drug offenses and works for the best possible outcome. Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 for a free consultation.