What is a Felony Drug Charge in North Carolina?

There are a number of different felony drug charges that someone can be indicted for in the state of North Carolina. Along with the social stigma that can come along with a felony drug charge, there are other severe consequences, from fines to prison time. 

Felony drug charges range from less severe cases like drug possession to much more serious cases like drug trafficking. Depending on the type of charge, the class of the controlled substance involved, and whether an individual is allegedly selling, manufacturing, or trafficking the drugs will depend on the severity of punishment. 

If you live in North Carolina and are facing felony drug charges, contact the attorneys at law Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh to help you with your defense case as quickly as possible. The sooner you secure legal representation for your felony drug charge, the better equipped you are to go through the process and protect your future. 

Classifications of Controlled Substances

All drugs are considered controlled substances. The punishment for felony drug charges depend on the classification of the drug. Drugs are classified as either Schedule I, II, III, IV, V, or VI controlled substances. Schedule VI substances are the least severe charge and Schedule I substances are the most extreme form of a felony drug charge. 

Only Schedule I, II, III, and VI controlled substances carry felony level drug charges. 

Schedule I

Drugs that serve zero medical purpose and have the highest potential for abuse are classified as Schedule I narcotics. These drugs are heavily regulated by the federal government and hold some of the most severe punishments if you are charged with possession, dealing, manufacturing, or trafficking them. 

Some examples of Schedule I drugs: 

  • Heroin
  • LSD 
  • Marijuana 
  • Mescaline/Peyote
  • MDMA/Ecstasy 
  • Psilocybin/Psychedelic Mushrooms

Despite many states legalizing or decriminalizing the possession, selling, and cultivation of  marajuana, it is still illegal in North Carolina and therefore classified as a Schedule I drug. 

Schedule II

Drugs that have a high potential for abuse but offer some medicinal purposes are considered Schedule II controlled substances. Even though a medical provider may prescribe Schedule II drugs to patients, they do so in a controlled environment and in limited quantities due to the high potential for addiction. Possession of and dealing these narcotics will result in a felony drug charge

Some examples of Schedule II drugs: 

  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine (meth)
  • Opioid pain medications like Vicodin, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (oxycontin), and fentanyl
  • ADHD meds like Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin

Schedule III

Schedule III classified substances are susceptible to addiction and dependence, but at a much lower rate or risk than Schedules I and II. Many prescription drugs are often classified as Schedule III. 

Some examples of Schedule III drugs are: 

  • Ketamine
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Vicodin
  • Tylenol with codeine 
  • Testosterone

Schedule IV

Drugs with a low potential for abuse and accepted medical purposes are classified as Schedule IV. 

Examples of Schedule IV drugs are: 

  • Valium
  • Xanax
  • Rohypnol
  • Darvon
  • Clonazepam

Types of Felony Drug Charges

Whether an individual is found in possession of a drug or allegedly distributing, manufacturing, or trafficking the drug will make a huge impact on the felony drug charge as well as the consequences that follow. Additionally, the quantity of the drug will impact the sentencing of a case. 

Felony drug charges in North Carolina should be taken very seriously, as the punishment can range anywhere from probation to up to 20 years in prison, even for first-time offenders.

Generally, a conviction and sentence for felony narcotics will depend on: 

  • The quantity of drugs involved
  • The type of drugs involved
  • Your criminal record 

The best course of action in handling your case for a felony drug crime is to contact a lawyer who is an expert in felony narcotic charges who will discuss the details of your case carefully with you. 

Possession of Drugs

If you are found to knowingly be in possession of a controlled substance classified as Schedule I through IV, you will face a felony drug charge. Schedule I drugs are a Class I felony that is punishable with up to 24 months in jail. Class I felonies are the least severe felony classification and come with the lowest possible sentence and if it is your first offense and you have no criminal history, most judges will hand out less severe sentences. 

Schedules II, III, IV are also Class I felonies punishable up to 24 months in jail if any of the following quantities are found to be in possession: 

  • More than 100 tablets, capsules, or dosage units
  • More than four tablets, capsules, dosage units of hydromorphone
  • Any amount of methamphetamine, amphetamine, phencyclidine, or cocaine

For possession of marijuana charges, the quantity for a felony drug possession charge is 1 ½ ounces of marijuana.  

Selling and Distribution of Drugs

The sale or delivery of drugs from one person to another is a Class G felony that is punishable for up to 47 months in jail for Schedule I and II narcotics. Class G felonies are the second least serious felony class. 

Schedule III and IV drug sale and distribution are Class H felonies punishable for up to 39 months in jail. Class H felonies are classified beneath class G in terms of severity. For all distribution of narcotics, sentencing will depend on aggravating factors specific to the case and whether or not it is a first offense or you have a criminal history. 

Drug Manufacturing

Involvement in any step of the drug production process is considered manufacturing. This can exist in many forms, from having a meth production lab in your home, cultivating marijuana, or even selling the chemicals and equipment needed to produce drugs. 

Schedule I and II drug manufacturing is a felony charge punishable by up to 39 months in jail, whereas Schedule III and IV drug manufacturing felony charges are punishable by up to 24 months in jail. 

Drug manufacturing charges hold a more severe penalty than possession and distribution for methamphetamine. If found to be manufacturing meth, it is a Class C felony, the third most severe felony type. Meth manufacturing sentences can result in serving up to 231 months in jail. 

Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking encompasses the possession, manufacturing, and intent to sell illegal, controlled substances. Trafficking of drugs is the most severe drug charge that can be handed down. It is the only felony drug charge that does not take into account the perpetrator’s criminal history– regardless of having a clean criminal record or prior convictions, drug trafficking follows specific guidelines for punishment in North Carolina. 

Depending on the specific drug and the quantity of that drug will depend on punishment. Less severe Class I felony drug trafficking charges for Schedule III and IV drugs like ketamine or Xanax might serve up to 12 months in prison. Yet, if found trafficking a Schedule I or II drug like heroin or cocaine, a judge can sentence you to up to 40 years for your trafficking offense. 

It is important to discuss your drug trafficking case with a knowledgeable lawyer who can help you understand the potential punishments and consequences of a conviction. 

Are You Facing Felony Drug Charges?

If you are facing felony drug charges it can affect your future. You may have difficulty finding a job, securing housing, getting approved for a home or business loan or even receiving financial aid for school. 

Do not make the mistake of not having adequate legal representation for your felony drug charge. It is possible to have your charges dropped or sentence reduced, depending on the circumstances of your case. Reach out to a felony drug attorney today to protect yourself and your future and get the best possible outcome for the charges you are currently facing. 

Contact a Felony Drug Charge Attorney

If you are facing a felony drug charge, it is important to secure knowledgeable legal experts to plan your felony drug charge defense. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh know what it takes to fight your felony drug charge and secure the best possible outcome for you and your future. 

You can speak to an attorney 24 hours a day, 7 days a week– schedule a free consultation by contacting us today at (919) 887-8040.