Drug Crimes

What to Know About North Carolina’s First Step Act

By Joel Hancock

Drug issues are running rampant in today’s current landscape. But people would not be able to obtain drugs without the existence of drug trafficking. Drug trafficking includes either the transport or sale of controlled substances to others. Drug trafficking is a more serious offense than drug possession since it impacts many more lives. Therefore, the penalties associated with it are much more serious as well. 

While North Carolina usually requires its judges to comply with mandatory sentencing rules for drug trafficking, there is a new law that may change that depending upon the circumstances. The newly enacted First Step Act allows for a judge to depart from the rules in some cases. So, when exactly does the First Step Act apply? Here’s what to know.

The Circumstances of the Case

The circumstances of each case impact whether the First Step Act can apply to a drug trafficking case. The first requirement for the First Step Act to apply is that the accused must accept responsibility for his or her actions. Additionally, he or she must not have used a dangerous weapon or another type of violence when carrying out the alleged drug trafficking. 

The Criminal History of the Alleged Trafficker

The next thing taken into consideration is the criminal history of the alleged trafficker. The individual who is charged cannot have any previous felony convictions – otherwise, the First Step Act cannot apply. While this includes prior drug charges, it also includes any other felonies. If there is any evidence that the accused was previously involved in either using violence to commit a crime or engaging in the manufacture, transport, delivery, or sale of a controlled substance, the First Step Act cannot apply. 

The Amount of the Controlled Substances

The next factor in determining whether the First Step Act can apply is the amount of the controlled substances involved. The amount of the controlled substance in the accused’s possession must fall within the lowest category for trafficking that type of substance. 

If the court finds that the First Step Act can apply, the individual who is accused may be able to receive limits on their sentence should they be convicted.

The Attorneys at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Help Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with a Crime

It can be incredibly scary to be arrested, and even more frightening to learn that you are going to be prosecuted under the criminal justice system. Not only the outcome of the case, but the experience itself can have a major impact on your life. That is why it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you to fight these charges and obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Joel Hancock is a native of Carteret County, NC. He devotes 100% of his practice to defending those accused of traffic infractions, DWI, misdemeanors, and felonies in Carteret County, NC.