Being charged with any crime associated with cocaine possession in North Carolina is extremely serious. If you are caught with any amount of cocaine you can be charged with a felony. The most common and least severe cocaine offense is simple possession of cocaine, which is a Class I felony. If, however, you are caught with more than a single dose of cocaine you could be charged with Possession with Intent to Sell or Deliver Cocaine (PWISD Cocaine), which is a Class H Felony. Lastly, if you are caught with large amounts of Cocaine you can be charged with Trafficking Cocaine. The punishments associated with Trafficking Cocaine range from a Class G Felony to a Class D Felony depending on how much cocaine was present. Possession of cocaine is generally charged under North Carolina’s state laws. However, you could be charged under state or federal criminal laws for more serious cocaine-related crimes.

Overview of Felony Drug Crimes 

How Does Cocaine Charges Differ From Marijuana Charges?

Cocaine in a Small Clear Bag

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug and much more addictive than marijuana. Therefore possession of cocaine is treated more harshly than possession of marijuana in North Carolina. Marijuana possession is often a misdemeanor crime with fines and probation as the most common sentence. Rarely will a misdemeanor marijuana conviction result in a person being sentenced to jail. In Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, an individual may even be able to take an approved drug education program in exchange for a dismissal of marijuana possession charges.

In contrast, the charges of simple possession of cocaine is a felony, and a conviction can result in you being sentenced to prison and having to pay a fine. You could also have a criminal record for the rest of your life.

Charges and Penalties for Possession of Cocaine in North Carolina

Controlled substances are classified in Schedules I through VI depending on the dangerousness of the drug, the chances of it being abused, and whether it has any medicinal purposes. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous. Cocaine is considered a Schedule II drug.

In addition, felonies are classified into letter groups from A to I, with an A felony conviction being the most serious. Possession of cocaine is the least serious charge you could be charged with and is a Class I felony—but it still comes with long-term consequences. To be convicted of this crime, the prosecutor must prove that you knowingly possessed cocaine. The possession can be actual or constructive. The following guidelines apply to whether you are considered in possession of cocaine:

  • To be in actual possession of cocaine, the drugs must be on your person, you must be aware of their presence, and you must control the drugs.
  • You can be in constructive possession of the cocaine if you have control over the cocaine, but it is not in your actual possession.

To be considered in actual or constructive possession of cocaine, you must know that what you possess is a controlled substance. If you are convicted of possession of cocaine, your sentence will be based in part on your prior criminal record and how much cocaine you possessed. You could be sentenced as follows:

  • Three months to two years in jail, and
  • Substantial Fines

How Felony Sentencing Works 

What PWISD Cocaine Charges Could You Face?

Possession with the intent to sell and distribute cocaine is a much more serious charge. You can be charged with this crime if you knowingly possess cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver it. PWISD is a Class H felony. In order to be found guilty of PWISD Cocaine the State of North Carolina has to prove that you possessed cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver it to someone else. The State of North Carolina will say that you intend to sell cocaine or deliver cocaine if you possess more than a single dose of cocaine or, if in addition to being found with cocaine, you were also found with items that are associated with the sale and delivery of cocaine such as baggies, scales, and other drug paraphernalia. If you are convicted of a Class H felony, you face up to 39 months in jail for your first offense and significant monetary fines.  

Penalities for Trafficking Cocaine

If you were found in possession of large amounts of cocaine, 28 or more grams, you could be charged with Trafficking Cocaine an even more serious felony. Examples of the penalties you could face if charged with Trafficking Cocaine include:

  • For a Class G felony conviction involving 28 to 200 grams of cocaine, you could be sentenced to 51 months in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
  • If you are convicted of a Class F felony for the possession, sale or distribution of 200 to 400 grams of cocaine, you could be sentenced to 93 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
  • You could be convicted of a Class D felony if there was 400 or more grams of cocaine. The prison sentence is from 175 to 222 months, and the fine can be up to $250,000.

Lastly, you can be charged and sentenced differently for selling cocaine to a minor, selling cocaine within 300 feet of a school and possessing cocaine at a prison or jail. 

Are You Looking for a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Charlotte, NC?

If you are facing criminal charges, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charlotte office directly at 980.207.3355 to schedule your free consultation.

Fight Your Drug Charges 


Howard W. Long, II
Connect with me
Charlotte Criminal Defense and DWI Lawyer