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If you are caught with drugs in an airport, such as Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, you may be facing severe criminal penalties. State and federal laws can be harsh on airport drug trafficking, even if you only have a small amount of an illegal substance on you. Because travel via airports involve interstate travel, you may even be looking at federal charges.

The Charlotte airport drug trafficking lawyers at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys can help. We know mistakes happen and shouldn’t derail your entire life. Call us today at (980) 237-4579 or use our online contact form.

North Carolina Drug Laws and Air Travel

North Carolina has several drug laws that apply to air travel. These laws are designed to prevent the trafficking of drugs on airplanes and to protect the safety of passengers and crew.

Possession of Illegal Drugs

It is illegal to possess any controlled substance on an airplane in North Carolina. This includes drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and fentanyl. The penalties for flying with drugs can be severe, carrying time in prison and significant fines. Depending on the type and quantity of drugs possessed, you may either face a felony or misdemeanor charge for just simple possession. In addition to the criminal penalties, you may also face significant monetary fines by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Trafficking of Illegal Drugs

It is also illegal to traffic illegal drugs on an airplane in North Carolina. In North Carolina drug trafficking involves the manufacture, sale, delivery,, or possession of a controlled substance. Unlike in most states, the quantity alone is what triggers the application of North Carolina drug trafficking statutes and penalties. The drug trafficking laws in North Carolina do not consider what you intend to do with the drugs. Therefore, if you fly into Charlotte-Douglas Airport with more than 10lbs of marijuana, even though you claim it is for personal use, you will be charged with trafficking in marijuana. Further, because you can be charged with multiple counts of trafficking for the same drugs, you could be charged with trafficking by possession and transportation just by flying drugs through Charlotte-Douglas Airport.

The penalties for trafficking illegal drugs on an airplane are more severe than the penalties for possession. For each type of illegal drug there are at least three levels of trafficking under North Carolina statute, which again are based on quantity, level one being the least severe and level three, or higher, being the most severe. Regardless of trafficking level, every drug trafficking charge in North Carolina carries with it mandatory prison sentences and mandatory monetary penalties. The criminal penalties for trafficking drugs across state lines via an airplane, and through an airport, are even more severe if you happened to be charged in federal court.

Drug Paraphernalia on a Plane

It is also illegal to possess drug paraphernalia on an airplane in North Carolina. This includes items such as pipes, bongs, scales and syringes. Depending on how police believe the paraphernalia is to be, or has been, used, you could be facing a number of different misdemeanor charges. Again, because federal jurisdiction begins once you board the aircraft, a simple misdemeanor charge could technically result in federal criminal charges as a result of taking any drug or marijuana paraphernalia onto an airplane.

Searches and Seizures in an Airport

Law enforcement officers have the authority to search passengers and their belongings at airports in North Carolina. This includes conducting pat-downs, using airport scanner machines to scan luggage, and even running drug dogs around luggage as it is being removed from the aircraft and before placing bags onto the luggage carousel. If law enforcement officers believe that a passenger is in possession of illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia, they may seize the items and arrest the passenger.

What Happens if You Get Caught with Drugs at the Airport?

The consequences of getting caught with drugs at the Charlotte-Douglas Airport vary depending on several factors, including the type and quantity of drugs involved. The penalties can be severe.

Immediate consequences include being detained by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers or airport police. The drugs will be confiscated, and you may be questioned about the source of the drugs and your intended use.

Depending on the severity of the offense, you may be arrested and charged with drug possession and/or drug trafficking. If you are arrested, you will be booked into jail and held pending a bond hearing. Bail is typically set at a high amount for drug offenses, so you may remain in jail until your trial date.

Legal consequences for a conviction include fines, incarceration, probation, drug treatment, and potential deportation if you are not a U.S. citizen.

How Can a Charlotte Airport Drug Trafficking Lawyer Help?

If you are arrested at the airport, a drug trafficking lawyer can help you avoid the harshest penalties of a drug trafficking conviction. They may even be able to get your charges dismissed entirely with the right defense strategy.

Your attorney can investigate what happened and use their in-depth knowledge of North Carolina and federal drug laws to build support for your case. They will negotiate with the prosecution and work on getting you a fair plea agreement. If that is not possible, they can take your case to trial and protect your rights throughout the legal process.

What to Do if You’re Arrested at the Airport

Being arrested at the airport can be a stressful and confusing experience. However, it is essential to remember that you have rights, and you should take steps to protect them. Here are steps to take if you are arrested at the airport:

1. Remain calm and do not resist arrest. This will only make the situation worse.

2. Tell the officers that you want to exercise your right to remain silent. This means you do not have to answer any questions without an attorney present.

3. Ask for the name of the officer who arrested you and the agency they work for. This information will be helpful if you need to file a complaint later.

4. Contact an airport drug trafficking lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can advise you of your rights and help you navigate the legal process.

5. Do not make any statements about the case to anyone other than your attorney. This includes law enforcement officers, friends, and family members.

Defending against Drug Trafficking Charges

Here are some potential defenses and strategies that you or your attorney may raise against drug trafficking charges:

  • Lack of knowledge: If you were unaware of the presence of drugs in your luggage, you may be able to successfully argue that you did not intend to commit the crime of drug trafficking.
  • Entrapment: If you were induced or persuaded by law enforcement to commit the crime of drug trafficking, you may have a valid entrapment defense.
  • Unlawful search and seizure: If the evidence against you was obtained through an illegal search and seizure, it may be inadmissible in court, and the charges against you may be dismissed.
  • Mistake of fact: If you mistakenly believed that the substance you were trafficking was legal, you may have a valid defense.
  • Lack of probable cause: If law enforcement did not have probable cause to arrest you, the charges against you may be dismissed.
  • Chain of custody issues: If there are issues with the chain of custody of the evidence against you, it may be inadmissible in court. If you can get key evidence suppressed, your case may be dismissed entirely.
  • Expert testimony: In some cases, expert testimony may be helpful to support your defense. For example, an expert witness could testify about the properties of the substance in question or the methods used to analyze it.
  • Character evidence: In some cases, character evidence may be helpful to support your defense. For example, witnesses could testify about your good character or your lack of prior criminal history.

It is important to remember that the specific defenses available to you will depend on the facts of your case. Your attorney will be able to evaluate the facts of your case and determine which defenses are most likely to be successful.

Contact an Airport Drug Trafficking Lawyer Today

Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys have helped countless people facing serious drug charges like yours. We are ready to listen to your story and start an investigation today. We will poke holes in the prosecution’s case and get you the best outcome possible given the facts of your case.

Call us today at (980) 237-4579 or use our online contact form to schedule a case consultation.