If you are facing drug trafficking charges in North Carolina, the potential consequences can feel overwhelming.
Moreover, you can face several different charges related to drug trafficking. You can be charged with cultivating, manufacturing, possessing, distributing, transporting, or selling illicit drugs. You can be charged for using a dwelling or motor home to store drugs, and you can be charged with trafficking.
Here’s the thing about trafficking charges, though: you don’t have to actually transport or sell drugs in order to get hit with the offense.
What a NC Drug Trafficking Charge Really Means
Trafficking charges are based on the amount and type of drug in question. In general, the more addictive and hazardous a drug is, the lower the quantity can be to qualify for a trafficking charge rather than a possession charge.
For example, 28 grams of methamphetamine is classified as a Class F felony and punishable by 70 to 90 months in jail, with a fine of $50,000. The same amount of heroin is classified as a Class C felony and punishable by 225 to 282 months in jail, with a fine of $500,000.
The state laws have specific guidelines for drug amounts, fines, and incarceration times for the following drugs:
- Opium or Heroin
Most charges of drug trafficking are felonies in North Carolina. A conviction translates to hefty fines and many months – or even years – in prison. A felony charge can harm your reputation for decades. It can also negatively impact your ability to get a good job and hold certain licenses, which may lower your standard of living.
If you are facing drug trafficking charges, it’s essential to enlist the services of a skilled defense attorney. They will be able to help you find the strongest possible defense and work to get your charges reduced or dropped. These are some of the defenses your attorney may use in your case:
If you were linked to a group of offenders, but did not actually commit a crime, this defense can be used. For example, you were a passenger in a vehicle with others who did possess drugs, but you possessed none yourself.
If you were completely unaware that drugs were in your possession, you can use this defense. For example, if you were handed a package to deliver but you did not know it contained illegal drugs, this defense may apply.
Violations of Search and Seizure Rights
The Fourth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution protects your rights to due process. These include proper procedures before an arrest is made. For drug trafficking charges, illicit drugs must be in open view as a basis for charges to be filed. Your rights may be violated if an officer stops you without reasonable suspicion or pries open your trunk without your permission.
When drugs are seized, they are analyzed in the crime lab for content and purity. If the seized drugs do not match the description in the charges, the charges can be dismissed.
Seized Drugs No Longer in Evidence
Sometimes the seized drugs presented as evidence in a trial are not the actual drugs from the alleged crime scene. Police departments shuttle drugs back and forth, and if the correct evidence does not show up at your trial, they cannot be used to build a case against you.
Drugs Were Planted
This is one of the more difficult defenses to use, since an officer’s testimony is held in high regard by the court. However, situations do exist when drugs are planted, so your attorney can ask for the officer’s report to be released for court review.
Coercion or Duress
If you were threatened with serious bodily injury or death unless you agreed to possess or transport drugs someone else gave you, this defense may apply in your case.
This defense can be used if you were convinced by an informant or officer to commit a crime that you would not have otherwise committed.
Since drug trafficking charges come with such serious penalties, you need help from a skilled North Carolina criminal attorney who has years of experience defending and winning cases like yours. They will know the best defenses that will work in your case and they will look for ways to get your charges reduced or dismissed. You may even qualify for remediation programs rather than incarceration if you are a first time offender.
Ready to build a solid defense against your charges? Contact us for a free case review.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett?is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of?Schlosser & Pritchett?and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense.? He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.