Drug Trafficking Attorney in Raleigh

A Defense Attorney for Drug Trafficking Charges

North Carolina carries some of the toughest punishments for drug crimes in the nation, and as drug trafficking is seen as one of the most serious drug offenses, the penalties are particularly severe and include mandatory prison time, regardless of your prior criminal record. If you’ve been arrested or are being investigated for drug trafficking, it’s absolutely crucial that you refrain from speaking to any police officers until you have one of our criminal defense attorneys in Raleigh present to represent you and ensure your rights are not infringed upon.  Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the offense, you still have rights that require protection.

At Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh, our main priority is to get the most favorable outcomes for our clients. We have over 60 years of combined experience both as defense attorneys and as prosecutors, which gives us unique insight and knowledge to better serve our clients. When your freedom hangs in the balance, your choice in representation matters.

Put our award-winning legal defense on your side. Call (919) 887-8040 today.

Laws Related to Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking is a type of drug distribution done on a larger scale. While most people think it refers to transport, such as carrying a large amount across state lines or from one city, charges are actually related to the amount of a controlled substance a person is alleged to have in their possession. For example, a person who is accused of having 10 pounds of marijuana, 28 grams of cocaine, or 4 grams of heroin could all lead to being charged with drug trafficking in North Carolina. The prosecution is not obligated to prove the accused party was planning on transporting or distributing the controlled substance, they only have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had the specific amount in their possession.

Drug Trafficking Thresholds:

  • 10 pounds of marijuana
  • 28 grams of cocaine
  • 28 grams of methamphetamine
  • 4 grams of opium or heroin
  • 100 units of LSD
  • 28 grams of MDMA
  • 4 grams of Fentanyl
  • 10 grams of Fentanyl analogue (an illegally manufactured drug designed to mimic Fentanyl)

Drug Trafficking Penalties in North Carolina

Prior to 2019, North Carolina had minimum sentencing laws for people convicted of drug trafficking, but recent legislation passed gives judges more discretion in sentencing where non-violent drug crimes are committed. For example, someone caught with 3.75 grams of heroin could be convicted of possession of a schedule I controlled substance, a Class I felony,  and sentenced to up to 12 months in prison. However, if they have four grams of heroin, which is the threshold for trafficking, they could be convicted of a Class F felony and a mandatory sentence of 70 months in prison and a $50,000 fine. 

Today, judges have more discretion in how they sentence offenders who meet specific criteria. However, a conviction of drug trafficking is always a felony and can still lead to harsh penalties and life-long consequences. Sentences are dependent upon the drug itself and how much a person has in their possession. 

Let’s compare a few examples of someone convicted of trafficking marijuana versus trafficking heroin, assuming no prior record and presumptive sentencing without aggravated or mitigating circumstances.


  • 10 – 49 lbs: Class H felony, up to 39 months in prison and a $5,000 fine;
  • 50 – 1,999 lbs: Class G felony, up to 47 months in person and a $25,000 fine;
  • 2,000 – 9,999 lbs: Class F felony, up to 59 months in prison and a $50,000 fine. 
  • 10,000+ lbs: Class D felony, up to 204 months in prison and a $200,000 fine


  • 4 – 13 grams: Class F felony, up to 59 months in prison and a $50,000 fine;
  • 14 – 27 grams: Class E felony, up to 88 months in prison and a 100,000 fine;
  • 28 grams+: Class C felony, 231 months in prison and a $500,00 fine.

Federal Drug Trafficking Laws

While the state has harsh penalties related to drug trafficking, it is also a federal crime to manufacture, distribute, or possess controlled substances and the penalties for doing so are often more severe than state sentencing. For example, trafficking 100 grams of heroin could lead to 40 years in prison if convicted by a federal court. 

At Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh, we represent clients in the United States District Court for the Eastern and Middle District of North Carolina, and we bring the same dedication and experience to federal settings as we do for local cases.

Schedule a Consultation with Our Drug Trafficking Defense Attorneys

The moments immediately before and following an arrest are often crucial towards the outcome of your case. Having an attorney representing you not only gives you more time to discuss your legal options, they can ensure your rights are upheld during questioning and moving forward. You deserve experienced legal counsel and need an ally during this challenging time, and we’re here to be that ally. Schedule a consultation with us today at (919) 887-8040 or fill out our contact form. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.