Being convicted of a drug crime in North Carolina can have serious repercussions. Besides the criminal penalty, it will impact your reputation, your employment, and your future. The attorney you decide to hire could make a major difference in the nature and degree of your sentencing. In many cases, you may even be able to have the charges dismissed. If you’ve been arrested or charged with any drug crimes, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.
That’s where the experienced team at Hancock Law Firm comes in. Our drug crimes attorneys have a proven history of helping our clients assert a number of defenses against drug charges. Given that drug crimes can lead to both state and federal charges, you need the powerful representation our legal team can provide.
What Are The Different Drug Crimes With Which I May Be Charged?
Every criminal case is different. Depending on your particular circumstances, you could be facing a variety of different charges, including:
- Drug possession charges for common street drugs such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and more
- Drug possession charges for synthetic drugs such as Spice and synthetic marijuana
- Intent to sell and distribute controlled substances
- Manufacturing, sale, trafficking, and delivery of drugs
- Prescription drug charges, including prescription fraud and forgery
- Distributing prescription drugs to others
- Distributing drugs to minors
Each of these charges has their own elements that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order for you to be convicted.
What Drugs Are Covered By North Carolina Laws?
Our state’s legal system categorizes drugs into one of six “schedules.” Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous, and Schedule VI is considered the least. Some of the drugs that are included in each schedule are:
- Schedule I: heroin, ecstasy, and opiates
- Schedule II: cocaine, morphine, codeine, methadone, and opium
- Schedule III: ketamine, anabolic steroids, and barbiturates
- Schedule IV: valium, Xanax, and other depressants and stimulants
- Schedule V: over-the-counter cough medicine with codeine
- Schedule VI: marijuana, THC, and hashish
How Does North Carolina Treat Drug Crimes?
It is illegal to possess, manufacture, use, sell, deliver, or traffic any controlled substance in North Carolina. It is also illegal to possess these substances with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver. Counterfeit controlled substances – anything that is not the drug itself but that is knowingly sold as a drug – are also covered by these statutes.
North Carolina has some of the harshest drug laws in the country. Whether you face a felony or misdemeanor charge will depend on the type of controlled substance, the amount, and actions and intent related to the drug. Being arrested with a small quantity of drugs has different consequences, for example, than being arrested with large quantities that are packaged in tiny bags.
What Constitutes Possession Of A Controlled Substance?
Most people think of possession of drugs as being found with them on your person. But the law is more complicated than that. Possession can be charged in the event of actual or constructive possession of drugs:
- Actual possession — This means the drugs were found on your person: in your hands, in your pockets, in your purse, etc. To gain a conviction, the prosecution must show that you had actual knowledge of the presence of drugs with intent to control, use, or dispose of them.
- Constructive possession — This means you had the intent and ability to control the drugs, even if they were not found on your person. You may be charged with this if drugs are found in your office, home, or vehicle.
Although there is no difference between the two with respect to sentencing, constructive possession is broader and can give prosecutors more leeway in trying to convict you.
What Is Drug Trafficking?
Drug trafficking laws are designed to cover large-scale possession, transportation, and distribution of controlled substances. Whether someone is charged with trafficking will turn on the amount of drugs the defendant allegedly possessed. A conviction for trafficking will require a mandatory minimum prison sentence, making it one of the more serious drug crimes.
What Are Drug Paraphernalia?
Possessing certain items can make the police suspect that you are engaged in drug crimes. For example:
- Rolling papers
- Pill bottles
You may possess these items for legitimate purposes, which can open the door to one of several defenses that may be argued in your case.
Do First-Time Drug Offenders Go to Jail in NC?
Whether first-time drug offenders go to jail in NC depends heavily on the specific circumstances, like the type and amount of drug, presence of intent to distribute, and any prior criminal history. While some first-time offenses with minimal possession might qualify for probation or diversion programs, harsher penalties, including jail time, are also possible. Consulting a competent NC criminal defense attorney is crucial to navigate the legal options and potential outcomes.
What Are Possible Defenses My Attorney Could Raise?
The state has to prove every statutory element of a crime in order to secure a conviction against you. This burden is a high one, and in some cases, it may be possible to have charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed. Some of the possible defenses we may be able to assert are:
- Possession — We may challenge the state’s allegation that you either possessed the drugs (actually or constructively) or knew you possessed the drugs. Constructive possession may be defeated if the state fails to prove you had the intent and ability to possess or control the drugs.
- Illegal search and seizure — The Fourth Amendment protects against unlawful search and seizure procedures, which are common in drug cases. Where the drugs are located when they are found, and how they are found, will affect this.
- Intent to sell and deliver — Drug paraphernalia can indicate intent to sell and deliver drugs. But often, people innocently possess common household items and should not be charged with this offense.
- Chain of custody and drug lab analysis — The prosecution must prove the drug seized was, in fact, the drug itself by having it sent to a crime lab for analysis. There must also be a reliable chain of custody for the drugs, from seizure to the time they are presented in court.
- Witness reliability — Questions about how you were identified by police, selected from a lineup, identified by an informant, and more could come up.
Contact Our Experienced Carteret County Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer
Your future is too important to face a criminal charge on your own. Trust Hancock Law Firm to challenge the evidence in your case and defend your rights as a criminal defendant. Call us today for a consultation.