How to Get Drug Possession Charges Dropped in North Carolina

A misdemeanor charge of drug possession is a serious offense. Being charged can impact all areas of your life. Everything from your employment to educational opportunities and even where you might live can be impacted by a misdemeanor charge of drug possession. If you or a loved one has been charged with drug possession in North Carolina, you may be wondering if there is any way to get the charges dropped. Our advice is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who has knowledge about the laws regarding drug possession so your rights are protected.

At Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh Attorneys at Law, we handle drug charges ranging from misdemeanor to felony offenses. There are several factors that constitute the offense of possession and if these are not met, you may not be guilty. Our team is knowledgeable and experienced in protecting your rights whether you are innocent or guilty. In this article, we note the legal issues involved and why drug charges could be reduced, dismissed altogether, or subject to a pretrial diversion program, also known as a pretrial intervention program or just a 

diversion program. 

What Are the Drugs Involved in a Drug Possession Charge?

A drug, in the criminal justice world, is any illicit substance as defined by either state or federal law. There are six schedules of drugs whereby they are ranked based on where they fall according to eight characteristics. Each schedule carries its own specific penalties. These are some of the characteristics of drugs that dictate which schedule they are in:

  • Abuse
  • Evidence of pharmacological effect
  • History of the drug and pattern of abuse
  • Risk to public health
  • Whether the drug is a precursor of another controlled substance

Schedule I

Schedule I drugs are classified as drugs that have a high potential for abuse or have no accepted medical use.

  • Opiates
  • Hallucinogenic Substances (for example, MMDA and MDMA)
  • Mescaline (“peyote”)
  • Psilocybin (“shrooms”)

Schedule II

  • Opium
  • Oxycodone
  • Fentanyl
  • Amphetamine
  • Methamphetamine

Schedule III

  • Barbituates
  • Ketamine
  • Codeine
  • Testosterone

Schedule IV

  • Depressants (Xanax)
  • Stimulants

Schedule V

Schedule V substances may be sold at a retail store without a prescription to persons over the age of 18

  • Codeine (in lesser concentrations)

Schedule VI

  • Marijuana
  • Synthetic cannabinoids, e.g., THC and Cannabidiol (CBD)

What Constitutes Drug Possession?

In North Carolina, there are two main types of drug possession charges: simple possession and possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver. Simple possession of most drugs is a misdemeanor. Possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver is a felony.

Simple Possession

A simple possession charge involves illegal possession of drugs or controlled substances. In North Carolina, a person who is found to possess any type of illegal drug, substance, or narcotic can face a jail sentence if convicted. Simple possession means that the defendant is possessing the drug with the intent to use it. Depending on the drug schedule, this can be a serious charge.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Besides possessing a controlled substance in North Carolina, you can also be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Drug paraphernalia is anything that can be used to grow, manufacture, process, prepare, test, analyze, package, store, contain, conceal, inhale, inject, or ingest a controlled substance. Some of the objects that are most commonly considered drug paraphernalia include:

  • Scales
  • Baggies
  • Rolling papers
  • Pill bottles
  • Bowls and bongs
  • Syringes
  • Needles
  • Steel wool
  • Roach clips

Possession with the Intent to Sell, Manufacture, or Deliver

This type of possession is considered drug trafficking and carries very serious federal penalties. In North Carolina, the definition of drug trafficking encompasses several drug-related offenses. Drug trafficking can include selling, transporting, or possessing a controlled substance such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD, or methamphetamines. There are specific prison sentence lengths depending on what the substance is and the amount that is involved. If you are charged with drug trafficking, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At Sandman, Finn, and Fitzhugh, we routinely combat these charges and confront the allegations of the federal government.

How to Get Drug Charges Dismissed?

The law is complex. You may or may not be guilty as charged with a misdemeanor drug crime as it appears on the surface. An experienced legal team like Sandman, Finn, and Fitzhugh understands the law and knows the potential defenses that may be employed in your drug case. Much of the case lies on whether the police acted lawfully when you were arrested and charged. If your legal representation can show that they did not act lawfully, your misdemeanor drug crime most probably will be dropped.

These are some of the questions your attorney can ask in determining whether law enforcement was, in fact, lawful in your charge and arrest:

  • Did the police have a lawful reason to stop you?
  • Was there a justifiable reason for searching the place or area?
  • Did you know there was a controlled substance present where it was located?
  • Did you possess the illegal drug that the police claim you did?

Legal Bases for Drug Charges Dismissal

When the answers to the questions above indicate that the charge and arrest were not lawful, you may have a legal basis for a dismissal. An experienced lawyer will look for these reasons when seeking dismissal of the charge:

  • Lack of Reasonable Suspicion/Lack of Probable Cause to Stop
  • Improper Search or Seizure of Your Car, Residence, or Person
  • Lack of Voluntary Consent to Search
  • Lack of a Search Warrant to Search/Defective Search Warrant
  • Deferral, Deferred Disposition, or Plea Agreement with the State
  • Inability to Show Actual or Constructive Possession of a Controlled Substance
  • Problems with the “Chain of Custody” and Evidence Issues

Tips for Getting a Drug Possession Charge Dropped in North Carolina

It’s possible for a drug possession charge to be dropped with the help of a drug defense attorney. It isn’t easy or likely that charges will be completely dropped or dismissed. Even though it is a difficult process, it can occur. It is critical that your legal representation understands drug crimes because each one is different. An experienced criminal attorney will review the facts, the case pattern, and the accused individual’s background history.

Some outcomes that can occur when you are working with an experienced drug defense attorney for drug possession charges are:

  • Significantly less jail or prison time, or none
  • Community service instead of more serious penalties
  • Probation in place of more serious sentences like imprisonment
  • Reduced fines
  • Drug possession charges that are dropped completely

The following are examples of police mistakes, abuse of power, and violation of an individual’s rights that, if proven, can lead to the dismissal of the charges.

Prove That Your Rights Were Violated

The first thing a criminal defense attorney attempts to prove is that an officer violated the defendant’s constitutional rights. It must be proven prior to trial and is known as a suppression hearing.

Some examples of a defendant’s rights being violated include:

  • Wrongfully being searched when there was no evidence 
  • Not being read the Miranda Rights Warning
  • Being forced to speak to the police
  • Not being informed of the consequences of choosing to speak
  • Not being allowed to have an attorney present
  • Being asked questions by the police after requesting legal representation
  • Being treated differently due to race, gender, or religion

Demonstrate That There Was a Mistake

By demonstrating that a mistake was made, your drug charges will more than likely be dropped and you won’t have to go through the criminal court process. Not being read Miranda Rights is a mistake that can be made during an arrest.

Make A Deal To Reduce Your Charges

As part of trying to get the charges dropped, you can make a deal to reduce your charges significantly. This can be the equivalent of getting your charges dropped.

Prove There Was an Abuse of Power

If it is proven that there was an abuse of power by the police, you more than likely can get the charge dismissed. Some examples include:

  • Excessive use of force
  • Searches performed without sufficient evidence
  • Arrest without a proper warrant
  • Civil rights violations
  • Taking bribes or forcing a person to have sexual relations to avoid charges
  • Assault and acts of violence
  • Murder

Prove There Was No Probable Cause to Make the Arrest

If you can prove that there was no probable cause for an arrest, you can get your possession charges dropped. A good criminal defense attorney can achieve this for you.

Show That The Stop-and-Search Was Illegal

If you can prove that the stop-and-search was illegal, it is very likely that you will get your drug possession charges dropped. Police officers stop civilians and perform searches by frisking them or searching their cars or homes. If this was done unlawfully, a criminal defense attorney who can prove it to the court will more than likely be able to get the charge dismissed.

Prove Insufficient Evidence

An experienced attorney who knows the law can prove that there is insufficient evidence. It isn’t easy. However, if evidence was lost during an arrest leaving insufficient evidence to prove that an individual is guilty, the charges will likely be dropped.

No Available Witnesses

If there are witnesses who are not available who are key to your criminal drug possession case, it’s very possible that your case may not proceed.

Contact Our Raleigh Legal Team Today

As shown in this article, though it is possible to get drug possession charges dismissed, it isn’t easy. Knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorneys will maneuver in the intricacies of the law in order to provide you with the defense you deserve. Our team at Sandman, Finn, and Fitzhugh have over 50 years of combined legal experience on both the state and federal levels, giving us the foundation you need. Be sure your rights are protected and contact us immediately after you have been charged. Call us at 919-887-8040 to speak with an attorney 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or, fill out our contact form to set up a free consultation.