North Carolina classifies and assigns penalties to drug charges in a highly confusing manner. To illustrate this point, it’s a fact that there are 10 different felony classifications in North Carolina. There is a variety of felony criminal offenses that a person may be charged with which arises out of alleged drug activity. These offenses run the gamut from low level felonies such as possession to high level felonies like drug trafficking. Being charged with a felony drug offense in North Carolina entails serious potential consequences. Depending on the specific type of offense charged the potential punishment could range from probation to a mandatory jail sentence of more than 20 years even for first time offenders.
North Carolina classifies controlled dangerous substances (CDS) into 6 different categories. Drug/CDS charges are dependent on the type of drug and the quantity of the drug involved in the crime. A controlled dangerous substance is a drug. Every drug is classified according to a Schedule I, II, III, IV, V, or VI controlled substance. Schedule I controlled substances are considered to be the most dangerous, while Schedule VI controlled substances are considered to be the least dangerous. Similarly, in the case of a felony drug conviction the potential punishment is dependent on the classification of the drug, with Schedule I entailing the most severe penalties and Schedule VI having the least severe penalties.
A list providing the detail of each schedule of controlled substances is provided below
Schedule I: Drugs having the highest potential for abuse, having no accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety. Examples include heroine, ecstasy, GHB, methaqualone, peyote, and opiates.
Schedule II: Drugs with a high potential for abuse along with some accepted medical use. Abuse leads to physical or psychological dependence. Examples include cocaine, opium, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, methamphetamine, and Ritalin.
Schedule III: Drugs having the potential for abuse less than Schedule I and II drugs, having an accepted medical use. Abuse leads to low physical and high psychological dependence. Examples include ketamine, anabolic steroids, and barbiturates.
Schedule IV: Drugs having low potential for abuse, having an accepted medical use. Abuse leads to limited physical or psychological dependence. Examples include valium, Xanax, Rohypnol, Darvon, clonazepam, and barbital.
Schedule V: Drugs having lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV drugs along with an accepted medical use. Abuse may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence. An example may be cough medicine with codeine.
Schedule VI: Drugs have relatively low potential for abuse, having no accepted medical use. Abuse leads to limited physical or psychological dependence. Examples include marijuana, hashish, and hashish oil.
Misdemeanor Drug Crimes.
Possessing a small amount of most of the controlled substances listed above and not having a prior conviction for drug charges will typically result in a misdemeanor charge. If however, you are found to be in possession of a Schedule I or some Schedule II drugs then that possession can be charged as a felony. Misdemeanor drug crimes in North Carolina can potentially carry a sentence of up to 45 days in prison.
Felony Drug Charges.
In North Carolina, the list of potential felony drug crimes is a long one from possession to promoting drug sales by a minor that a person engaged in illegal drug activity could face. However, most felony offenses have been categorized within five major felony drug offense categories, including
Possession: Getting caught in possession of a Schedule I drug (as well as some Schedule II drugs, including methamphetamine precursors), is considered a felony.
Sale or Delivery: Additionally, if you are caught with enough of any drug for law enforcement to reasonably suspect that you are making or selling that drug, your charge might be bumped up to a felony.
Manufacturing: Manufacturing and distribution (sale) of drugs are felonies as well. Depending on the schedule of drug involved, you could face a number of different charges
Possession with Intent to Manufacture, Sell, or Deliver
Trafficking: Drug trafficking refers to the manufacturing, distribution, or movement of a certain weight of drugs.
The punishment for drug possession in North Carolina is generally as follows:
Schedule I Drugs: Class I felony, punishable by up to 24 months in jail
Schedule II, III, IV Drugs: Class I felony, punishable by up to 24 months in jail, if the amount possessed is
More than 100 tablets, capsules, dosage units, or equivalent quantity;
More than four tablets, capsules, dosage units of hydromorphone; or
Any amount of amphetamine, methamphetamine, phencyclidine, cocaine, or coca leaves
Schedule V Drugs: Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail
Schedule VI Drugs: Class I felony, punishable by up to 24 months in jail, if the amount possessed is
More than 1 ½ ounces of marijuana;
More than 21 grams of synthetic cannabinoid; or
More than 3/20 of an ounce of hashish
The punishment for Sale or Delivery of Drugs in North Carolina is generally as follows
Sale of Drugs
Schedule I or II Drugs: Class G felony, punishable by up to 47 months in jail
Schedule III, IV, V, or VI Drugs: Class H felony, punishable by up to 39 months in jail
Delivery of Drugs
Schedule I, II, III, IV, V, or VI Drugs: Class H felony, punishable by up to 39 months in jail
The punishment for drug manufacturing in North Carolina is generally as follows
Schedule I or II Drugs: Class H felony, punishable by up to 39 months in jail. (With the exception of manufacture of methamphetamine which is a Class C felony carrying up to 231 months in jail.
Schedule III, IV, V or VI Drugs: Class I felony, punishable by up to 24 months in jail
The punishment for possession of a drug with the intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver in North Carolina is generally as follows:
Schedule I or II Drugs: Class H felony, punishable by up to 39 months in jail
Schedule III, IV, V, or VI Drugs: Class I felony, punishable by up to 24 months in jail
The punishment for drug trafficking unlike the punishment for other felony drug crimes is not punished under the North Carolina Structured Sentencing Guidelines, which accounts for the person’s prior criminal history. Drug trafficking refers to the manufacturing, distribution, or movement of a certain weight of drugs. It is often charged at the federal level, however If the drugs do not cross state or national borders you may face state felony drug trafficking charges instead. Under North Carolina law, trafficking charges could result in prison time for anywhere from 25-279 months. That’s just over two years on the low side to more than 23 years maximum.
The federal court may take over a drug crime at any point if it is at interest to them, and federal charges follow their own unique rules. A federal drug trafficking conviction comes with mandatory minimum sentences, which include 5 years in prison for a first offense to life in prison for your second or third conviction, depending on the circumstances. If you are faced with any sort of drug related charge in North Carolina, it is highly advisable to contact an experienced criminal defense firm such as Parry Tyndall White Attorneys At Law to safeguard your rights.
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