What are the penalties for possession of marijuana in NC?

Under North Carolina law, marijuana is considered a Schedule 6 substance, which is the lowest classification possible for a controlled substance. Despite recent changes to marijuana laws in many other states, it is a crime to knowingly possess a controlled substance in North Carolina, which includes possession of marijuana. If you are caught with marijuana while in North Carolina, even if you have the legal right to possess it in your home state, you could face criminal charges and the penalties that go with a conviction. 

Marijuana possession can be charged as a misdemeanor offense or a felony, depending on the quantity found in the defendant’s possession. Criminal penalties for possession of marijuana in North Carolina are proportionate to the offense. The quantity, whether it is a first or repeat offense, and if the crime is charged as a misdemeanor or felony will determine what the penalties are.  What penalties are you facing if you have been charged with marijuana possession?

The Penalties of Misdemeanor Possession

Possession of fewer than 1.5 ounces of marijuana will be charged as a misdemeanor. Defendants charged with possession of .05 ounces of marijuana or less are subject to the penalties associated with a Class 1 misdemeanor. Penalties include up to $200 in fines and/or thirty days in jail. However, a misdemeanor conviction for more than .05 ounces of marijuana increases the fine cap to $1,000 and extends the possibility for jail time to 45 days. 

The Penalties of Felony Possession

Individuals charged with having more than 1.5 ounces of marijuana will face felony penalties. Unlike misdemeanor penalties, the conviction of a Class 1 felony for marijuana possession can mean up to one full year behind bars. Even if an individual is found with less than 1.5 ounces of marijuana in their possession, it could still result in felony charges if the defendant is a repeat offender. 

While North Carolina does classify marijuana as the least severe of the controlled substances, the State does still generally prosecute marijuana possession as the drug charge it is classified as under the law. Some counties have taken a step toward decriminalization, but the State as a whole has not yet adopted this idea. Because North Carolina imposes mandatory minimum sentencing for drug charges, which means the judge may not have the discretion to impose a lighter sentence based on the circumstances, one small mistake could land you behind bars with a criminal record that can follow you for life. 

If you are facing possession charges, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and preserve your reputation. A criminal record, regardless of the charges or convictions that appear on it, can impact all aspects of your life from your education to employment opportunities, and even your housing options. Trust your future to an attorney with a proven record in defending North Carolinians who are facing marijuana possession charges. 

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