Last month, President Barack Obama made a statement about how he feels regarding drug sentencing laws by commuting the prison sentences of 61 inmates throughout the United States.
Three of the 61 inmates granted commutation are from North Carolina:
- Reginald Wendell Boyd, Jr. of Greensboro was sentenced to 180 months in prison with 8 years of supervised release in 2005 for conspiracy to distribute cocaine hydrochloride and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
- Christopher Tim Florence of Chapel Hill was sentenced to 268 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release in 2005 for possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (crack).
- Alohondra Rey Staton of Greenville was sentenced to 360 months in prison with 5 years of supervised release in 2001 for possession with the intent to distribute cocaine base (crack).
What does a commuted sentence mean?
Commutation is a form of clemency that reduces the punishment for a crime. So the 61 inmates, including the three from our state and over one-third serving life sentences, now have a closer end date in sight: July 28, 2016.
In total, President Obama has granted some form of clemency to 248 federal inmates, and for good reason. Our so-called “War on Drugs” caused North Carolina and the rest of the United States to enact strict drug laws that rarely allow for a second chance.
“Most of them are low-level drug offenders whose sentences would have been shorter if they were convicted under today’s laws,” President Obama said. “I believe America is a nation of second chances, and with hard work, responsibility, and better choices, people can change their lives and contribute to our society.”
So things are looking up for a few fellow North Carolinians who were convicted of drug crimes over 10 years ago. But what could you be facing if you’re accused of a drug crime today?
Current Drug Possession Laws and Penalties
Drug possession is taken seriously in our state and someone could potentially face either a misdemeanor or a felony charge for drug possession depending on the drug.
North Carolina classifies drugs and controlled substances into six different Schedules. Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous, with the highest likelihood of abuse and addiction and no recognized medical use. Schedules II through VI decrease in dangerousness and likelihood of abuse, and increase in recognized medical use.
Schedule I drugs include heroin, ecstasy, GHB, peyote, methaqualone, opiates, and others.
Schedule II drugs include cocaine, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, methamphetamine, Ritalin, and more.
- If you are accused of possessing a Schedule I or II drug, you are facing a Class I felony punishable by 3 to 12 months in jail.
Schedule III drugs include anabolic steroids, some barbiturates, and more.
Schedule IV drugs include Valium, Xanax, Rohypnol, Clonazepam, and more.
- If you are accused of possessing a Schedule III or IV drug, you are facing a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by 1 to 120 days in jail.
Schedule V drugs include over-the-counter cough medicines with codeine and others.
- If you are accused of possessing a Schedule V drug, you are facing a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by 1 to 60 days in jail.
Schedule VI drugs include marijuana, hashish, and derivatives.
- If you are accused of possessing a Schedule VI drug, you are facing a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by 1 to 20 days in jail.
Don’t let a drug possession charge ruin your life. Reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney who will be able to help you beat the charges and fight for your freedom.
About the Author:
Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.