Don’t Fight Drug Possession Charges Alone
If you’re charged with drug possession in North Carolina, you need to speak with a criminal defense lawyer in Raleigh as soon as possible. Drug possession charges are complex and vary widely depending on the type and amount of drug you’re accused of having, but regardless of the charge, the penalties are severe and have life-long consequences. For experienced legal representation from a skilled drug possession lawyer, you need the team at Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh on your side.
Actual Possession vs. Constructive Possession
Oftentimes a drug possession case can turn on whether a person was in actual possession or constructive possession of the substance. A person has actual possession of a substance if the person has it on his/her person, is aware of its presence, and has both the power and intent to control its disposition or use.
A person has constructive possession of a substance if the person does not have it on his/her person but is aware of its presence, and has both the power and intent to control its disposition or use. A person’s awareness of the presence of the substance and the person’s power and intent to control its disposition or use may be shown by direct evidence or may be inferred from the circumstances.
Drug Possession Laws in North Carolina
Drug possession laws in North Carolina are outlined in the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act. Under this law, it is illegal for anyone to:
- Manufacture, deliver, or possess a controlled substance with the intent to sell;
- Manufacture, deliver or possess with intention to sell a counterfeit controlled substance;
- Have a controlled substance in your possession for personal use;
- Possess a chemical with the intention to use it for making methamphetimine or other controlled substances;
- Possess or sell a chemical knowing it will be used to make methamphetimines or other controlled substances;
The penalties related to drug possession are dependent on the type of drug, and North Carolina separates specific types into “schedules.” There are six drug schedules, divided by severity or danger related to the drug, with schedule I being the most severe and schedule VI being the least severe.
Schedule I drugs are defined as having a “high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in the United States, or a lack of accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision.” This list includes, but is not limited to:
- Opiates, including specific types of methofentanyl;
- Opium derivatives, including heroin and morphine;
- Hallucinogenic substances, including LSD and mescaline;
- Synthetic cannabinoids
- Amphetamines and methamphetamines
Schedule II controlled substances are determined by the Commission to have a high potential for abuse, are currently accepted for medical use with restrictions, abuse of substances may lead to severe mental or physical dependence. This list includes, but is not limited to:
- Opium, and opium derivatives, such as codeine, hydromorphone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, but excluding naloxone.
- Opiates, including methadone and fentanyl
Schedule III controlled substances are determined by whether their is less potential for abuse than Schedules I and II, offer currently accepted medical benefits in the United States, and abuse leads to low to moderate physical dependence or high mental dependence. Examples of Schedule III drugs include:
- Derivatives of barbituric acid, including compounds containing amobarbital, secobarbital, and pentobarbital;
- Lysergic acid ;
- Anabolic steroids
Controlled substances classified as Schedule IV are determined by the Commission to have a lower potential for abuse compared to Schedule III drugs and have limited physical or mental dependence potential as well as having currently accepted medical use. Examples include, but aren’t limited to:
- Depressants, including Clonazepam, Chloral betaine, Chloral hydrate, Lorazepam, and Mebutamate;
- Stimulants including Fencamfamin, Fenproporex, and Modafinil
Schedule V substances are found to fall under currently accepted medical use and have a low potential for abuse and dependence relative to those listed in Schedule IV. Examples of Schedule V drugs include:
- 200 milligrams of codeine or less;
- 100 milligrams of dihydrocodeine or less;
- 100 milligrams of ethylmorphone or less;
- 2.5 milligrams of diphenoxylate or less;
- 100 milligrams of opium per 100 grams;
- Stimulants, including pyrovalerone;
The only controlled substances that are classified as a Schedule VI are marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols (THC). While there is no currently accepted medical use, the low potential for abuse, risk to public health, and potential for dependence is limited.
Regarding Hemp Possession in North Carolina
Hemp or hemp extract which is composed of less than 0.9 percent of THC by weight is legal in North Carolina, which means you can possess hemp or CBD products without prosecution or criminal penalty. However, the appearance of legal hemp and illegal marijuana are the same and also come back the same in most drug tests. In order to determine its legality, the hemp must undergo special testing.
Drug Possession Penalties in North Carolina
If you are charged with drug possession, the schedule of the controlled substance determines the penalty. While there are a variety of factors that play a role in penalties, including criminal records and the amount of the substance you are accused of having, our drug possession lawyers wanted to break it down a bit to help you understand the charges you may be facing. In the North Carolina General Statute, chapter 90-95 (a)(3) , which is possession of a controlled substance, is the foundation for how penalties are given.
A conviction of possession of a Schedule I controlled substance (assuming there is no intent to distribute or manufacture) is a Class I felony. Assuming there is no prior criminal record, the penalty is 3 to 12 months in prison.
The exception to this is possession of MDPV (“bath salts”) in quantities less than a gram, in which case the conviction would be a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Schedule II, III, & IV
If found guilty of possession of a substance that is classified in Schedule II, III, or IV, the accused is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor which carries one to 120 days in jail. However, if found with cocaine, methamphetimine, phencyclidine, or hydromorphone in a capacity over four tablets (or other dosage unit), the charge can be punished as a Class I felony.
Possession of a Schedule V controlled substance is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail
Schedule VI (Possession of Marijuana)
A conviction of possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana) is a Class 3 misdemeanor. The only exception is if the quantity exceeds one-half of an ounce of marijuana or one-twentieth of an ounce of hashish (extracted resin of marijuana) or synthetic THC, in which case this is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. If there is more than 1.5 ounces of marijuana or three-twentieths of an ounce of hashish, the violation is a Class I felony.
Federal Drug Possession
While the majority of cases for drug possession are prosecuted by state prosecutors, drug possession can be a federal crime. Under the Controlled Substances Act, the federal government has five schedules for how they separate substances, and, with the exception of marijuana, they mirror North Carolina’s schedules. According to the CSA, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, like heroin and cocaine.
If you are facing federal charges of drug possession, it’s important to know that a conviction carries mandatory minimum sentencing and much harsher penalties than a conviction in a North Carolina court. As federal criminal defense attorneys in the Eastern District of North Carolina, we can represent clients against these charges just like we can in local courtrooms.
Contact Our Drug Possession Attorneys in Raleigh To Schedule A Free Consultation
Whether you’re facing local or federal charges of drug possession, a conviction can not only lead to prison, it can leave a permanent mark that can affect our ability to get a job, own a business, or rent property. Working with an experienced drug possession lawyer, like the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh can lead to a better outcome as we believe in fighting on every client’s behalf and putting all of our experience and knowledge to work to get the best possible outcome. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to schedule a free consultation, contact us today at (919) 887-8040.