Understanding North Carolina Drug Laws (And How To Fight Drug Charges)

In North Carolina there are several legal repercussions that involve drugs. If you have been charged with a drug crime, it is important to hire a lawyer who is fully versed in the drug laws of North Carolina. Our lawyers will be advocates for you and help you with what you should know about misdemeanor and felony drug laws in North Carolina and possible sentences.

What Are The Different Types Of Drug Crimes?

There is a wide range of drug crimes in North Carolina and they all carry different penalties. These crimes include:

  • Possession of a controlled substance, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia, including syringes, bongs, etc.
  • Drug trafficking
  • Drug possession with intent to distribute (sell)
  • Conspiracy to traffic drugs
  • Drug manufacturing
  • Possession of chemicals with intent to manufacture drugs
  • Illegal cultivation of marijuana
  • Possession of synthetic drugs such as K2, Molly, MDMA, bath salts, etc.
  • Selling drugs to minors
  • Selling prescription drugs
  • Prescription forgery

Each one of these laws can result in heavy jail time in North Carolina.

At Roberts Law Group, PLLC, our team of dedicated lawyers knows to fight a criminal charge for drug possession in North Carolina along with other drug-related charges. We know how law enforcement operates during these investigations, and we will work with you to build you the best defense possible. We have handled thousands of cases and will use our experience to build you the best defense possible.

North Carolina Drug Classification

North Carolina classifies drugs or " controlled substances" into 6 categories called schedules.

Schedule I: These drugs have the highest potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

  • Includes heroin, ecstasy, peyote, opiates, GHB, methaqualone, fentanyl
  • Penalty for possession: Class I Felony, up to 19 months in prison

Schedule II: These drugs have high addiction risk with little medical use.

  • Includes cocaine, opium, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine and methadone
  • Penalty for possession (less than 100 dosage units): Class 1 Misdemeanor, up to 120 days in jail
  • Penalty for possession (more than 100 dosage units or for a second offense) : Class I Felony, up to 24 months in prison
  • Note that there is an exception for cocaine and methamphetamine, which are punished as felonies regardless of quantity

Schedule III: These drugs have less potential for abuse than I and II and have accepted medical uses.

  • Includes ketamine, anabolic steroids, barbitutes
  • Penalty for possession (first drug offense): Class 1 Misdemeanor, up to 120 days in jail
  • Penalty for possession (second drug offense): Class I Felony, up to 24 months in jail

Schedule IV: These drugs have low potential for abuse and have accepted medical uses.

  • Includes Xanax, valium, Darvon, rohyphol, clonazepam
  • Penalty for possession (first drug offense): Class 1 Misdemeanor, up to 120 days in jail
  • Penalty for possession (second drug offense): Class I Felony, up to 24 months in jail

Schedule V: These drugs have a very low potential for abuse and have accepted medical uses. Abuse may lead to limited dependence.

  • Includes codeine, certain anticonvulsants, drugs with limited concentrations of narcotics
  • Penalty for possession (first drug offense): Class 2 Misdemeanor, up to 60 days in jail
  • Penalty for possession (second drug offense): Class 1 Misdemeanor, up to 120 days in jail

Schedule VI: These drugs have a low potential for abuse but no accepted medical uses.

  • Include marijuana, hashish, hash oil
  • Penalty for possession less than one-half ounce of marijuana(first drug offense): Class 3 Misdemeanor, up to 20 days in jail with possibility for suspended sentence
  • Penalty for possession more than one-half ounce of marijuana but less than one and one-half ounce (second offense): Class 1 Misdemeanor, up to 120 days in jail
  • Penalty for possession of more than one and one-half ounce of marijuana: Class I Felony, up to 24 months in prison

What About Marijuana?

Despite the growing trend toward legalization (or, at least, decriminalization) of marijuana across the country, it remains a controlled substance in North Carolina. Depending on the quantity involved, if you get caught with marijuana, you may be looking at charges for misdemeanor simple possession (usually personal-use amounts), or for felony simply possession (based on the quantity) or the more serious charge of possession with intent to distribute. Charges involving less than one and a half ounces (42 grams) of marijuana are misdemeanors provided there is no evidence of manufacturing or intent to sell.

Facing Misdemeanor Drug Charges?

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor drug crime in North Carolina, you are most likely looking at fines and/or probation. However, jail time is possible. Additionally, having a drug conviction on your record - no matter how minor - can impact your future in a big way. The conviction will show up on background checks for jobs, education, housing and other opportunities. That's why you need a lawyer who understands these charges.

At Roberts Law Group, we'll fight for you - for your rights, freedom, reputation and future.

Felony Drug Charges Explained

In North Carolina, you can end up facing a felony drug charge depending on the type and quantity of drugs involved. Your criminal record is also a factor. And if trafficking is involved, you may be looking at a federal charge also.

A charge for first-time possession of drugs such as heroin, ecstasy and cocaine is an automatic felony. Second-time possession of a controlled substance charge is a felony offense for all other drugs except Schedule V and Schedule VI drugs. These other drugs include:

  • Prescription drugs such as Xanax, Valium, Ritalin, Adderall, Vicodin and Percocet
  • Codeine and hydrocodone
  • Ketamine
  • Other schedule I-IV drugs in North Carolina

A felony drug offense carries harsher penalties and fines than a misdemeanor. For marijuana possession, you may charged with a felony if you have more than 1.5 ounces or it is your third charge. If paraphernalia is involved, and there is evidence of manufacturing or intent to distribute, you will be looking at much harsher penalties.

It is possible to get a felony drug charged reduced to a misdemeanor or dismissed, but it depends on the evidence against you and your criminal history. A strong defense lawyer can help increase the chances of a reduced charge.

Drug Trafficking

If you are caught trafficking drugs in North Carolina you will be looking at very serious charges. Drug trafficking is automatically a felony in North Carolina, but the penalty varies depending on amount of drugs and the type of drugs involved.

Criminal history does not come into play for trafficking as much because North Carolina has set sentencing guidelines for drug trafficking charges specifically. For a smaller amount, you could be looking at 70 to 93 months in prison, and for bigger cases, up to 23 years in prison.

After A Felony Drug Conviction: What Happens Next?

In North Carolina, the penalties for drug charges vary depending on:

  • The amount of drugs in your possession
  • The type of drugs
  • Your criminal record (in certain cases)

If federal agents are involved in the arrest, if the crime occurred on federal property, or if the crime violates federal drug laws, you could be charged with a federal crime. These charges generally come with harsher penalties.

When you are arrested, the first thing you will need to do is call a lawyer. Our attorneys have a full understanding of the ins and outs of North Carolina drug laws and will begin building your defense right away.

If you are convicted of a drug offense, you could be facing profound consequences beyond fines and prison time. Even a misdemeanor may lead to jail time, which could result in you losing your job for missing work. If you are in school, you may be facing other disciplinary actions such as suspension or expulsion for school or sports teams.

Once you are out of the jail, the drug offense stays on your criminal record. If you have a felony on your record, it could be harder to:

  • Find a job
  • Find housing
  • Secure a loan for a house or business
  • Secure financial aid for school

We will do everything we can to build you a strong case to protect your future.

How To Defend Against Drug Charges In North Carolina

As you can see, the drug laws in North Carolina are complicated, and every case has different circumstances. If you have been charged with a drug crime, it is important to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. We will explain how the investigation will proceed, and our legal team will begin building a strong defense against your drug charges.

At Roberts Law Group, we fight for the best results for our clients. All three of our lead attorneys are on the list of the top 100 trial lawyers (through the National Trial Lawyers) and have the experience necessary to develop a strong and strategic legal defense. We're committed to protecting your rights and freedoms. We have long-established reputations as lawyers who get the job done - even on tough cases.

With multiple offices throughout North Carolina, our drug attorneys can be reached online or by phone at 919-521-4646.