Drug laws in Mecklenburg County can result in harsh penalties for those convicted of a drug crime. 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. Law enforcement officials throughout the state are seeking to stop and charge drug offenders as serious drug crimes and the spike in drug overdoses have increasingly gained the attention of the public over the last several years. If you are arrested after being in possession of an illegal drug, you will need an experienced drug lawyer to help avoid a conviction on your criminal record. A Charlotte drug possession defense lawyer from Randall & Stump, PLLC will help you through the entire legal process as we work to successfully end your case.
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.
Charlotte, NC Drug Possession Offenses
An act of simple drug possession, such as having an illegal substance in your pocket, is illegal and can bring about serious criminal 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.
The law allows 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 prohibit 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
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.
There are Harsh Penalties for Drug Possession
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 to possibility of time in jail, as well as, a permanent record that can make your life difficult going forward. You can be charged with a 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 their strength and addictive qualities, and the possession of these substances can result in harsh consequences, if convicted.
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.
North Carolina law categorizes drugs into six different schedules based on their chemical properties. Punishments for a possession conviction of these schedules are as follows:
- Schedule I – Possessing the most dangerous drugs, such as heroin or LSD, 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 II – Drugs in this schedule include codeine and cocaine. For a first-time Schedule II possession offense, 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 III – Drugs in this schedule include prescriptions such as depressants, and being charged with possessing them can result in a class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense, and a class I felony for subsequent offenses.
- Schedule IV – Including addictive prescriptions such as Xanax or Valium, being charged for illegally possessing a drug in this schedule is considered a class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense, or a class I felony for subsequent offenses.
- Schedule V – These less addictive substances and medications, such as codeine, 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.
- Schedule VI – Drugs in this schedule include marijuana, hashish, and hashish oil. If you’re found to be in possession of any of these, 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.
If you have questions regarding the schedule of drug you were allegedly caught with, or its corresponding penalties, contact a drug possession lawyer right away.
Possible Defenses in Your Drug Possession Case
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, 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.