If you are facing drug charges in Mecklenburg County or other areas of North Carolina, you need to talk with an experienced drug crimes defense attorney. A lawyer will explain North Carolina’s drug laws, controlled substance schedule, and drug crime penalties. For drug manufacturing, drug possession, possession with the intent to distribute, and other drug crimes in Charlotte, the type of the drug matters a great deal. The type of drug determines whether it is within Schedule I through Schedule VI, which influences the specific charge you face and, if convicted, your maximum potential sentence.
A criminal charge for possession of a controlled substance in Charlotte should always be taken seriously. North Carolina’s schedule of drugs dictates whether this charge is a misdemeanor or felony. Depending on the type and amount of the drug, you could face a Class 3 misdemeanor for just possessing the drug. You could also face a Class I felony charge. If you are accused of manufacturing, selling, or delivering drugs, you will face higher felony charges and harsher penalties.
To learn more about North Carolina’s laws on controlled substances, call Randall & Stump, PLLC at (980) 237-4579 today. You can also reach out to us via our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
The North Carolina Schedule of Controlled Substances
You will find North Carolina’s controlled substances schedule within the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act, which is in the North Carolina General Statutes (NCGS) §90-86 to §90-113.8. A small portion of these statutes outlines the schedule, which consists of six levels (Schedule I through Schedule VI).
Schedule I (NCGS §90-89)
This schedule includes drugs with a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in the U.S., or a lack of accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision. These drugs are typically considered the most serious. If you are charged with possession of a controlled substance within Schedule I, you will face some of the harshest drug charges and sentences.
Schedule I includes heroin, Ecstasy, GHB, Peyote, Mescaline, Methaqualone, and opiates, including Fentanyl derivatives. It includes many other hallucinogenic drugs, stimulants, and depressants. It also includes synthetic cannabinoids, better known as herbal or liquid incense. Popular brands of synthetic cannabinoids include Spice and K2.
Schedule II (NCGS §90-90)
Schedule II includes drugs that have a high potential for abuse; have a currently accepted medical use in the U.S. or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions; and the abuse of the substance may lead to severe psychic or physical dependence.
Schedule II includes opium, opium poppy, and many opiates, including codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, fentanyl, and methadone. It includes cocaine and any of its derivatives. This level encompasses many stimulants, such as amphetamines, methamphetamine, and Ritalin; many depressants, such as Amobarbital and Pentobarbital; and certain hallucinogenic compounds.
Schedule III (NCGS §90-91)
Schedule III includes drugs with a potential for abuse less than substances in Schedules I and II; currently accepted medical use in the U.S.; and abuse can cause moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
Schedule III includes Ketamine, anabolic steroids, like testosterone, and certain barbiturates, like Pentobarbital. It also includes certain types and amounts of narcotics, such as codeine and morphine. Additionally, prescription forms of gamma hydroxybutyric acid, better known as GHB, falls under this level.
Schedule IV (NCGS §90-92)
This level includes drugs with a low potential for abuse compared to the substances listed in Schedule III; currently accepted medical uses in the U.S.; and limited physical or psychological dependence.
Schedule IV includes many depressants, such as Barbital, Clonazepam (Klonopin), Diazepam (Valium), Alprazolam (Xanax), Lorazepam (Ativan), Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), Methylphenobarbital, Phenobarbital. It includes stimulants, including those prescribed for weight loss and some narcotic drugs.
Schedule V (NCGS §90-93)
Schedule V includes drugs with low potential for abuse relative to drugs in Schedule IV; currently accepted medical uses in the U.S.; and limited risk of physical or psychological dependence. These are the least serious drugs under the law, and they include prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.
This level includes drugs with small amounts of codeine, dihydrocodeine (cough syrup), ethylmorphine, diphenoxylate and difenoxin, which are both anti-diarrheals, and opium. It also includes anti-convulsant medications, including ezogabine, lacosamide, brivaracetam, and pregabalin.
Schedule VI (NCGS §90-93)
Schedule VI substances have no currently accepted medical uses in the U.S.; a relatively low potential for abuse in terms of the risk to public health and potential to cause psychic or physiological dependence liability based on the current medical knowledge; or there is a need for further studies to determine the drug’s effects.
Schedule VI contains marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols (THC). This encompasses hashish and hashish oil.
Charges and Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance in Charlotte
If you are arrested for possession of a controlled substances in Mecklenburg County, Gaston County, Union County, Iredell County, Rutherford County, Cleveland County, Lincoln County, Catawba County, or Rowan County, call Randall & Stump, PLLC today.
You will face a misdemeanor or felony if charged under NCGS §90-95(a), which makes it illegal to possess, create, sell, deliver, manufacture, or manufacture or possess with the intent to sell or deliver any controlled substances.
If you are found in possession of drugs, whether actual or constructive possession, then the type of drug and the amount dictates the charges. The police will identify the type of drug in your possession, or types of drugs. They will then determine which schedule that drug or drugs are a part of and then file the appropriate charges against you.
Penalties for first time offenses include:
- Schedule I drugs: Class I Felony, punishable by up to 8 months in prison.
- Schedule II, III, or IV drugs: Class 1 Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 45 days in jail.
- Cocaine, methamphetamine, or Schedule II, III, or IV drugs above a threshold amount: Class I Felony
- Schedule V drugs: Class 2 Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail.
- Schedule VI drugs: Class 3 Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 10 days in jail.
- More than .5 ounce of marijuana: Class 1 Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 45 days in jail.
The level of the misdemeanor or felony dictates the maximum term of imprisonment you may face. That being said, various factors can increase the maximum available sentence, including your criminal history. If you have one or more drug convictions on your record, you need to speak with a drug crimes attorney about the potential consequences of another conviction.
Sentencing, particularly for felonies, can be complicated. For every offense, there is a minimum and maximum penalty range. For felonies, the court also calculates points based on your criminal record. These points place into a category I through VI. Then, using North Carolina’s sentencing chart, the judge reviews the intersection between the level of the criminal charge and your criminal history category. For each intersection of these two factors there is a presumptive penalty, as well as a potential mitigated or aggravated sentence range.