Will I Go To Prison After Being Arrested for Drug Trafficking?
Movies often portray “drug trafficking” as a large, complex criminal enterprise. Still, in the real world, drug trafficking charges in North Carolina can be levied for possession of controlled substances, simply based on the weight or quantity possessed, and no direct evidence that the drugs were being sold. If you’ve been arrested and charged with drug trafficking, you may wonder if a conviction will land you behind bars.
Unfortunately, if you are convicted of drug trafficking in North Carolina you will be sentenced to an active prison term under North Carolina’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Since consequences are so harsh for this crime, you need the experienced drug trafficking defense lawyers at Randall & Stump, PLLC. We’ll apply our knowledge, skills, and resources to fight for a dismissal or reduction of your charges to lessen your penalties.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug Trafficking
In North Carolina, you can be charged with drug trafficking by just possessing illegal drugs. Trafficking is inferred based on the quantity in your possession. For example, having as little as 10 pounds of marijuana is classified as Level One Trafficking in Marijuana. While Level One Trafficking in Marijuana is considered a low-level felony, a Class H felony, if convicted, you face a mandatory minimum of 25 months and mandatory maximum of 39 months in prison and a mandatory minimum fine of $5,000. Comparatively, the same first-time offender, if convicted of a Class H felony that is not a drug trafficking offense, would likely avoid an active prison sentence and only serve a term of probation.
Mandatory minimum sentences increase as the amount of drugs increase, as well as with the seriousness of the drug found in the defendant’s possession. For example, cocaine drug trafficking minimum sentences start at 35 months in prison for possessing 28 to 199 grams. In comparison, heroin drug trafficking minimum sentences start at 70 to 93 months for possessing just 4 to 13 grams of heroin. The minimum and maximum ranges for mandatory minimum sentences in North Carolina routinely result people serving decades behind bars and paying tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
If convicted of drug trafficking in North Carolina, you’ll spend a long time in prison. You must have skilled criminal defense attorneys who will work hard to help you avoid that penalty.
RECOMMENDED READING: Court process for trafficking charge
First Step Act Relief
Another possibility for reducing a sentence of imprisonment for drug trafficking is through the use of North Carolina’s newly enacted First Step Act, signed into law by the governor in June 2020, which went into effect of December 1, 2020. In addition to applying to cases moving forward, the legislature in North Carolina included language in the Act, which makes it apply retroactively to defendants who have already been sentenced and serving time in prison. Under the Act, defendants who meet very limited and specific criteria can petition to have their sentences reduced. Our criminal defense team can help assess whether North Carolina’s First Step Act offers relief to your old and/or pending case, and if so, file the motion on your behalf, arguing for a sentence reduction as allowed under this law.
To qualify for consideration of sentence reduction under the Act, you must:
- Accept responsibility for criminal conduct.
- Not have any prior felony conviction under N.C.G.S. § 90-95.
- Have been convicted for the least trafficking amount.
- Not have used violence or threat of it, with a weapon, during the crime.
- Admit you’re a drug addict and complete approved treatment.
- Show the sentence would be a substantial injustice and isn’t necessary for public protection.
- Have been only for trafficking or conspiracy to traffic.
- Provided help to authorities to apprehend and convict others.
While relief under the First Step Act is available, being able to get the charges dismissed or reduced will result in far better outcomes for you. We’ll concentrate on undermining the state’s case and presenting the strongest defense possible. We’ve had success in helping others facing drug trafficking charges avoid prison and can likely do the same for you.
RECOMMENDED READING: What you need to know about federal drug crimes
Let Us Help You Avoid Lengthy Jail Time for Drug Trafficking
Being charged with drug trafficking in North Carolina is a very serious legal matter. If convicted, you face incarceration and fines, plus collateral consequences of having a criminal record, loss of employment, and possible restrictions on where you live or owning firearms. We have more than 35 years of experience defending people just like you and securing favorable outcomes.