Drug possession charges in Mecklenburg County can result in harsh penalties for those convicted. Even if you are arrested with a small amount of a controlled substance, you may be looking at jail time, fines, and a possible felony conviction on your criminal record. If you are arrested after being in possession of a controlled substance, you will need an experienced drug possession lawyer to help avoid a conviction on your criminal record.
At Randall & Stump, PLLC, our defense attorneys are experienced in possession of a controlled substance charges, and will help you through the entire North Carolina legal process as we work to successfully end your case.
How Our Attorneys Will Defend Against Drug Possession Charges
North Carolina General Statute (NCGS) § 90-95 makes the possession of numerous controlled substances illegal. While some drugs can never legally be in your possession, certain prescription medications are closely monitored by law enforcement due to their high rates of abuse and resale on the street. Do not take drug possession charges lightly. A skilled drug lawyer can build a strong defense on your behalf that protects both your rights and your freedoms.
Being arrested and convicted for drug possession can have a huge impact on your life. Even a minor misdemeanor drug possession charge can leave you with a permanent record. Living with a conviction can make it difficult to obtain employment, seek student loans, or obtain housing.
As defense attorneys with years of experience with drug possession charges, Randall & Stump, PLLC understands that the prosecution must prove every element of your crime in order to convict you for drug possession. Defenses that can be used in a drug possession case include:
- You did not know that drugs were located on your property – If someone else left drugs in your home or car without your knowledge, then the element of intent cannot be met.
- You did not actually have the drugs in your possession
- You had a legitimate reason for possessing the substances – Maybe your doctor gave you a large prescription that you kept for your medical care, or perhaps the chemicals in question had another legitimate use instead of being intended for the manufacturing of a controlled substance.
- Your rights were violated during your arrest – The police must protect your constitutional rights and not search or arrest you without proper due cause or a judge’s warrant.
Our goal will be to obtain you the best possible outcome in your case, whether that is having the case dismissed, an acquittal, a plea bargain, the Mecklenburg County STEP Program, or the minimal penalty upon conviction. If you are facing charges for a criminal offense related to possession of a controlled substance, contact a Charlotte drug possession lawyer from Randall & Stump, PLLC for help today. (980) 237-4579.
Mecklenburg County Drug Possession Charges
Drug possession charges can result in serious consequences, even if you are only found guilty of a first-offense misdemeanor. If found guilty of the offense, you face the possibility of time in jail, revocation of your professional license, as well as a permanent record that can make your life difficult going forward.
An act of simple drug possession, such as having an illegal substance in your pocket, is illegal and can bring about serious criminal drug charges, including possible felony charges. However, what if a controlled substance is found somewhere in your home or car? As with almost every other crime, the issue of intent and knowledge play an important part in drug possession cases in Mecklenburg County. If the police have reason to believe that you intentionally have a controlled substance in your immediate surroundings (known as constructive possession) or on your person (known as actual possession), then you will face criminal charges.
North Carolina drug laws allow for intent to be inferred by your actions. For example, if you have a small amount of drugs in your pocket, then it can be assumed that you possess them for your own use. However, if you have a large amount of drugs stored in your home, then a police officer could assume that you intended to manufacture or distribute drugs to others.
In addition to making it a crime to possess controlled substances, NCGS § 90-95 prohibits the following:
- Possession of a chemical with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance
- Possession of a chemical with the intent to distribute it knowing (or reasonably believing) that it will be used to manufacture a controlled substance
- Possessing with the intent to sell or deliver a counterfeit controlled substance
Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance Charges
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.
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.
You can also be charged with felony possession of a controlled substance if the police find a significant amount of drugs on your person or property, depending on the type of drug, other items found near the drug, or how the drug is packaged. Having a large quantity of a controlled substance may allow police and the court to infer that you intend to sell or manufacture drugs, and this can land you in prison for many months, or even years. Furthermore, North Carolina has identified certain drugs as being more dangerous due to its strength and addictive qualities, and the possession of these substances can result in harsh consequences if convicted.
Penalties for first time drug possession 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.
Every drug possession charge can be enhanced to a serious crime based on the quantity or type of the controlled substance you allegedly had on your person or in your home. For example, possessing small amounts of marijuana of less than a half an ounce is a misdemeanor, but possession of marijuana of more than an ounce and a half is charged as a felony charge. A drug possession lawyer can explain the difference between misdemeanor and felony-level possession charges, and the potential consequences you face if convicted. (980) 237-4579.
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).
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, those charges can result in a class I felony punishable by up to one year in prison. However, enhanced factors can result in an increased sentence for each count of a Schedule I violation.
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.
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. If you are charged with a first-time possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, you face a class 1 misdemeanor charge, which is punishable by up to 120 days in jail and a fine. For subsequent commissions of this offense, you will be charged with a class I felony, which is punishable by up to one year in prison.
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.
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. Being charged with possession of a schedule III controlled substance can result in a class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense and a class I felony for subsequent offenses.
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.
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. Being charged with possession of a schedule IV controlled substance is considered a class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense, or a class I felony for subsequent offenses.
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.
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.Being charged with possession of a schedule V controlled substance can result in a class 2 misdemeanor charges, which are punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine. For a second offense, you’d face class 1 misdemeanor charges.
This level includes drugs with small amounts of codeine, dihydrocodeine (cough syrup), ethylmorphine, diphenoxylate, and difenoxin, which are both antidiarrheals, and opium. It also includes anti-convulsant medications, including ezogabine, lacosamide, brivaracetam, and pregabalin.
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. If you’re charged with possession of a schedule VI controlled substance, you face class 3 misdemeanor charges for a first offense (punishable by up to 20 days in jail and a fine), or class 2 misdemeanor charges for subsequent offenses.
Schedule VI contains marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This encompasses hashish and hashish oil.
If you have questions regarding the schedule of drug you were allegedly caught with, or its corresponding penalties, contact a drug possession lawyer in Charlotte right away. (980) 237-4579. We assist clients with drug possession charges in Mecklenburg County, Gaston County, Union County, Iredell County, Rutherford County, Cleveland County, Lincoln County, Catawba County, and Rowan County.