Getting charged with a drug offense in North Carolina is a serious matter. Depending on the classification of your drug charge, you could face severe consequences. Having an experienced attorney in NC with expertise in drug charge cases will potentially help reduce your charges or avoid them altogether. This guide discusses what you need to do if you’re an NC first time drug offender because the initial steps could be critical to the outcome of your case.
Classifications of Drug Charges in NC
North Carolina laws have strict regulations surrounding illegal substances, such as drugs and marijuana. Possessing, distributing, selling, and manufacturing (or cultivating) controlled substances in North Carolina is unlawful. Conducting these activities could mean charges for you and potential jail time.
The penalties for any of the above crimes will differ significantly based on the specific type of activity and the amount of drugs involved. The type of drug can also be an essential factor that could impact the severity of your case.
There are also various classifications for drug cases in North Carolina. Here is a detailed explanation for each one.
Drug possession is the least severe drug case classification in North Carolina. However, it does not mean you can get away with it. There are more classifications under this drug charge based on the type of drugs found in your possession.
For example, schedule I drugs are ecstasy or heroin. Possessing these drugs could mean you will be charged with a class I felony case. This carries a fine and prison time. Meanwhile, possessing schedule IV drugs, such as marijuana, is a less serious case. The most severe penalty for this case is 30 days in prison.
Drug Distribution and Sale
Distributing or selling prohibited drugs is a more serious case in North Carolina. Therefore, you can expect harsher penalties than with drug possession. Even if you are distributing marijuana (schedule IV drugs), you could still pay a fine and go to prison for up to 42 months. The fine varies based on the amount of drugs being distributed, but the maximum fine is around $42,000. The penalties for dealing and selling cocaine or heroin are more serious.
Drug Manufacturing and Cultivation
Manufacturing or cultivating (marijuana) is another classification of a drug offender case in North Carolina. It is a felony charge and will be penalized as such. Again, the type and amount of drugs you are charged with will determine the felony classification of your case and the subsequent penalties.
For example, cultivating 10 pounds or less of marijuana could result in eight months of imprisonment. On the other hand, manufacturing methamphetamine is punishable by up to 279 months imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
Drug Trafficking Corridor of North Carolina
As mentioned, North Carolina laws are very strict about drug charges because they want to limit the movement and distribution of controlled substances. In North Carolina, various interstates and highways provide easy access to multiple cities in the state, including Greensboro. These thoroughfares make it easy for controlled substances, like drugs and marijuana, to be transported from one city to another.
Law enforcers monitor these thoroughfares diligently, especially the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. In addition, local, state, and federal authorities monitor these areas as potential hubs for transporting controlled substances.
You are subjected to North Carolina’s structured sentencing system if you’re charged using this approach or any other means. You will be sentenced for the drug offence accordingly, depending on where you fall within that sentence structuring system and your past criminal record.
Unfortunately, this geography-based approach to control drug trafficking can put innocent people at risk of being charged. For example, an innocent passenger in a vehicle that contains marijuana or some other type of drug (without their knowledge) could be accused of a drug offense. Law enforcement officers may not be able to discern if the occupants of the vehicle are guilty, so you could be charged with the same offense as any criminal who possesses or sells drugs.
In this case, you need an excellent legal team to prove your innocence or reduce any charges, especially if you’re a first-time offender.
What is the NC First Time Drug Offender Program?
First time drug offenders in NC have the option that enables them to have certain drug charges against them dismissed. However, you will need legal assistance to navigate this and maximize this one-time opportunity.
The First Offender Program in NC is for individuals wrongfully charged for a drug offense with insufficient evidence, especially those with no previous criminal record. It protects you against illegal detention or seizure of your belongings.
Prematurely using the First Offender Program could be put to waste if you don’t have good legal advice on the matter. You could waste it on an unnecessary charge, which denies you the opportunity to use it for a more serious charge that could hurt your criminal record history in the future.
A good lawyer can advise you legally on the proper steps as an NC first time drug offender. You could argue against any weakness in the drug case, such as the lack of witnesses, insufficient evidence, and other constitutional issues. An experienced drug lawyer will be able to identify any discrepancies in those charges, which could save you from serious consequences that include prison time.
Why You Need a Drug Offense Lawyer in Greensboro, NC
North Carolina takes drug offenses seriously. To control the movement of these drugs, they want to punish anyone responsible for possessing, selling, and manufacturing these controlled substances.
If you’re a first time drug offender, you are liable under the criminal justice system in NC. However, you need good legal representation to ensure you don’t have to deal with severe punishments. A good lawyer can even help first-time offenders have the charges removed from their criminal records.
If you are an NC first time drug offender, one of the first things you must do is call your attorney (or look for one specializing in drug charges in NC). This step could save you lots of legal trouble later on or reduce your charges and penalties.