Sentences for Convicted Drug Offenders in North Carolina

North Carolina takes drug offenses extremely seriously. Whether you are convicted of possession, trafficking, manufacturing, or a related drug-crime, you will likely face a harsh sentence. Here, we provide an overview of the sentences for misdemeanor and felony drug offenses in our State. 

A Brief Overview of Drug Crimes in North Carolina

Sentencing for drug crimes in North Carolina is based mainly on the type of drug involved in the crime and whether the offense is possession or trafficking. The State classifies drugs under six different schedules, based on how it views the danger level of the drugs:

  • Schedule I drugs (e.g., heroin and other opiates) are illegal to possess, have no medical uses, and carry the harshest penalties.
  • Schedule II drugs (e.g., cocaine and methadone) have medical uses but have a high potential for abuse, so they still have many restrictions against their use. 
  • Schedule III drugs (e.g., barbiturates and ketamine) have accepted medical uses but also have the potential for dependence and abuse. 
  • Schedule IV drugs (e.g., Valium and Xanax) have accepted medical uses and limited potential for dependence and abuse. 
  • Schedule V drugs (e.g., over-the-counter drugs) have accepted medical uses and a low potential for abuse.
  • Schedule VI drugs (e.g., marijuana) have no accepted medical uses and a low potential for abuse. (Note that while some states consider marijuana to have an accepted medical use, North Carolina does not.)  

In addition to the type of drug, the State will look into whether the crime committed was possession or trafficking, whether this was the offender’s first offense, and the quantity of drugs involved, all of which will change the sentencing for the crime. Generally, the penalties for drug trafficking will be harsher than those for drug possession, and Schedule I drugs will involve the harshest sentences. 

Sentences for Drug Offenses 

North Carolina drug offenses fall into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. 

Most possession offenses (other than for a Schedule I controlled substance or a repeat offense) are charged as misdemeanors. A Class I misdemeanor will carry a possible sentence of forty-five days in jail. Possession of a Schedule I drug will be charged as a felony, and a defendant will likely be sentenced to a few months in prison.   

Trafficking, on the other hand, is always a felony. North Carolina has mandatory minimum sentences for these drug crimes, which include:

  • Class H Felony: minimum sentence of twenty-five months in prison (maximum of thirty months) and a minimum fine of $5,000. 
  • Class G Felony: minimum sentence of thirty-five months in prison (maximum of forty-two months) and a minimum fine of $25,000.
  • Class F Felony: minimum sentence of seventy months in prison (maximum of eighty-four months) and a minimum fine of $50,000.
  • Class D Felony: minimum sentence of 175 months in prison (maximum of 219 months) and a minimum fine of $200,000.

Defend Yourself Against Drug Charges

If you have been charged with a drug offense in North Carolina, it is extremely important to consult with a lawyer to discuss your case. As many drug offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences, a skilled criminal defense attorney fighting on your behalf to reduce charges and provide the best representation is crucial to your defense. Contact Attorney Jeremy Cotten today to schedule a consultation to review your case and discuss your options. Sentences for Convicted Drug Offenders in North Carolina