Felony Drug Crimes in North Carolina

Charlotte Drug CrimesIn Charlotte, there are a number of different types of felony criminal offenses that a person may be charged with that arises out of alleged drug activity. These offenses range from lower level felonies such as drug possession, to higher level felonies like drug trafficking. If a person has been charged with a felony drug offense in North Carolina, he or she is facing serious consequences. Depending on the specific drug crime charged, the potential punishment could range from probation to a mandatory jail sentence of more than 20 years. This even includes first time offenders.

What is a Controlled Substance?

A controlled substance is simply a drug. Every drug is classified as either a Schedule I, II, III, IV, V, or VI controlled substance. Schedule I controlled substances are considered the most dangerous, while Schedule VI controlled substances are considered the least dangerous. For any type of felony drug conviction, from possession to trafficking, the potential punishment will be largely dependent upon the classification of the drug involved, with Schedule I being the most severe and Schedule VI being the least severe. The list below provides greater detail of each schedule of controlled substance.

  • Schedule I: Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse, have no accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety. Examples include heroine, ectasy, GHB, methaqualone, peyote, and opiates.
  • Schedule II: Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, have some accepted medical use with extreme restrictions, and abuse may lead to physical or psychological dependence. Examples include cocaine, opium, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, methamphetamine, and ritalin.
  • Schedule III: Schedule III drugs have the potential for abuse, but less than Schedule I and II drugs, have an accepted medical use, and abuse may lead to low physical and high psychological dependence. Examples include ketamine, anabolic steroids, and barbituates.
  • Schedule IV: Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse, have an accepted medical use, and abuse may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence. Examples include valium, Xanax, rohypnol, darvon, clonazepam, and barbital.
  • Schedule V: Schedule V drugs have even a lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV drugs, have an accepted medical use, and abuse may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence. An example includes over the counter cough medicine with codeine.
  • Schedule VI: Schedule VI drugs have a relatively low potential for abuse, have no accepted medical use, and abuse may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence. Examples include marijuana, hashish, and hashish oil.

Key Felony Drug Crime Terms

In addition to understanding the difference between Schedule I, II, III, IV, V, and VI controlled substance classifications, it is also important to understand certain terms related to felony drug cases. That is, the terms below have significant meaning when discussing the various felony drug crimes that a person may be charged with in Charlotte, North Carolina.

  • Knowingly: Generally, “knowingly” means that the person charged was aware of what he or she was doing; that is, the person had knowledge of a certain fact. With felony drug crimes, that certain fact typically means that the person charged knew that they were engaged in a certain activity, whether that be possessing, selling, delivering, manufacturing, or transporting drugs. Often, evidence that is used to prove such knowledge includes the person’s statements or conduct, or statements made to the person.
  • Possession: In a felony drug case, a person may have actual possession or constructive possession of the drug in question.
  • Actual Possession: If an individual has actual possession of a drug, it means it is on his or her person and he or she is aware of the drugs presence.
  • Constructive Possession: Determining whether a person has constructive possession of drugs is much trickier. An individual has constructive possession of a drug when he or she has the intent and ability to maintain control and dominion over the drug, even where the drug is not on his or her person. While drug cases involving constructive possession are very fact specific, there are certain factors the court will often look at in making its determination, including:
  • The person’s proximity, or lack thereof, to the drug;
  • If the person owned the location, such as house or car, or item, like a duffle bag, or purse, where the drug was found;
  • The person’s opportunity to place the drug where it was found;
  • If the person’s personal items, such as mail and ID, were found in the same location as the drug;
  • If the person fled or engaged in suspicious behavior;
  • If the person was engaged in drug activity or impaired by drugs.
  • Sale: To be considered a sale in a felony drug case, a person must transfer drugs to another person for some form of compensation. This compensation may be money, but also may be non-monetary items. Non-monetary items may include items such as clothing, jewelry, video games, or even services.
  • Deliver: An individual is considered to have delivered drugs if he or she engages in the actual or constructive transfer of, or attempt to transfer, drugs to another person
  • Manufacture: In a felony drug case, an individual manufactures a controlled substance if he or she either (i) produces, prepares, propagates, compounds, conversions, or processes a drug by any means, or (ii) engages in any packaging or repackaging of the drug or labeling or relabeling of its container. However, if these activities are engaged in for the individual’s own use, during the course of professional practice, or incident to research, teaching, or chemical analysis, it is not considered manufacturing.
  • Transport: A person is considered to have transported drugs if there is actual carrying or movement from one place to another of the drugs. Even where the person moves the drugs only a short distance, he or she has likely engaged in the transportation of the drugs.

What Felony Drug Crimes can a Person be Charged with in Charlotte?

In North Carolina, there is a long list of potential felony drug crimes, from possession to promoting drug sales by a minor, that a person engaged in illegal drug activity could face. However, most of these criminal offenses are encompassed within five major felony drug offense categories, including (i) Possession, (ii) Sale or Delivery, (iii) Manufacturing, (iv) Possession with Intent to Manufacture, Sell, or Deliver, and (v) Trafficking. Below, each of these drug crimes, and the associated punishment, will be discussed. As you read through them, keep in mind the Key Felony Drug Crime Terms highlighted above.

Possession of a Controlled Substance

Possession of a Controlled Substance is made a criminal offense under N.C. General Statute 90-95(a)(3). This statute makes it a crime for a person to

  1. Knowingly
  2. Possess
  3. A controlled substance

Punishment for Drug Possession

While there are several exceptions, the punishment for drug possession 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 quantitiy;
  • More than four tablets, capsules, dosage units of hydromorphone; or
  • Any amount of methamphetamine, amphetamine, phencyclidine, cocaine, or cocoa 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

Sale or Delivery of a Controlled Substance

Sale or Delivery of a Controlled Substance is codified in North Carolina G.S. 90-95(a)(1), which makes it a crime for a person to

  1. Knowingly
  2. Either
    1. Sale, or
    2. Deliver
  3. A controlled substance
  4. To another person

Punishment for Sale or Delivery of Drugs

The punishment for sale or delivery of drugs differ depending on whether a person was convicted of the sale of drugs or the delivery of drugs. The difference is 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

Manufacturing of a Controlled Substance

It is a felony for a person to engage in the Manufacturing of a Controlled Substance under North Carolina G.S. 90-95(a)(1). Specifically, a person is guilty of this offense if they

  1. Knowingly
  2. Manufacture
  3. A controlled substance

Note: If the manufacturing involves preparing or compounding, the person also must act with an intent to distribute.

Punishment for Drug Manufacturing

Generally, the punishment for drug manufacturing is as follows:

  • Schedule I or II Drugs: Class H felony, punishable by up to 39 months in jail

Note: The manufacture of methamphetamine (Sch II) is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 231 months in jail

  • Schedule III, IV, V or VI Drugs: Class I felony, punishable by up to 24 months in jail

Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Manufacture, Sell, or Deliver

North Carolina G.S. 90-95(a)(1) also makes in a felony drug crime for a person to

  1. Knowingly
  2. Possesses
  3. A controlled substance
  4. With the intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver it

Punishment for Possession of a Drug with Intent to Manufacture, Sell, or Deliver

The punishment for possession of a drug with the intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver it is 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

Drug Trafficking Offenses

Per North Carolina G.S. 90-95(h) and (i), a person commits a drug trafficking offense when he or she

  1. Knowingly
  2. Either
    1. manufactures, sells, delivers, transports, or possess, or
    2. conspires to manufacture, sell, deliver, transport, or possess
    • Note: If the person sells or delivers, it must be to another person
  3. A controlled substance
  4. The quantity of the controlled substance is, at a minimum, either
    1. In excess of 10 pounds of marijuana;
    2. 1,000 dosage units of methaqualone;
    3. 28 grams of cocaine;
    4. 28 grams of methamphetamine;
    5. 28 grams of amphetamine;
    6. 4 grams of opium or heroin;
    7. 100 units of LSD;
    8. 100 units or 499 grams of MDA/MDMA;
    9. 28 grams of MDPV;
    10. 28 grams of Mephedrone; or
    11. In excess of 50 dosage units of synthetic cannabinoids

Punishment for Drug Trafficking

Unlike the punishment for other felony drug crimes discussed in this article, drug trafficking is not punished under the North Carolina Structured Sentencing Guidelines, which accounts for the person’s prior criminal history. Instead, if a person is convicted of drug trafficking he or she must be sentenced as set out in the chart below, regardless if he or she has no prior criminal convictions or many. The chart below details the minimum and maximum sentence that a person convicted of drug trafficking must serve based on the type of drug and amount of drug involved.

Level Felony

Class H

Class G

Class F

Class E

Class D

Class C

Min-Max Sentence (months)

25 to 30

35 to 42

70 to 84

90 to 117

175 to 219

225 to 279

Marijuana (pounds)

In excess of 10-49

50-1,999

2,000-9,999

 

10,000 or more

 

Methaqualone

(dosage units)

 

1,000-4,999

5,000-9,999

10,000 or more

 

 

Cocaine

(grams)

 

28-199

200-399

 

400 or more

 

Methamphetamine

(grams)

 

 

28-199

200-399

 

400 or more

Amphetamine (grams)

28-199

200-399

400 or more

 

 

 

Opium or Heroin (grams)

 

 

4-13

14-27

 

28 or more

LSD (units)

 

100-499

500-999

 

1,000 or more

 

MDA/MDMA (units/grams)

 

100-499/

28-199

500-999/

200-399

 

1,000/

400 or more

 

MDPV (grams)

 

 

28-199

200-399

 

400 or more

Mephedrone (grams)

 

 

28-199

200-399

 

400 or more

Synthetic Cannabinoids

(dosage units)

 In excess of 50-249

250-1,249

1,250-3,749

 

3,750 or more