The online world provides a lot of valuable services to people, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Authorities in North Carolina have seen a reduction in drug crimes while everyone is staying at home — nearly a 26-percent decline in violations related to drugs according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police data.
Still, a whole new world of online drug trafficking may just be beginning.
Let this be a reminder: Drug violations are still illegal, whether they happen in person or online…and penalties are as stiff as ever.
The Different Types of Drug Crimes in North Carolina
In North Carolina, there is a wide range of drug crimes someone can be prosecuted for and each carries very different penalties.
Someone found in possession of drugs can be charged with simple possession of a controlled substance, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia.
Depending on the amount of a substance found, conspiracy to traffic drugs, drug possession the intent to distribute, and drug trafficking are all potential charges someone can face.
Felony drug charges depend on the quantity and type of drugs involved in the case, but selling drugs illegally online can result in federal drug trafficking charges with some very stiff penalties.
Common Substances Trafficked in North Carolina
If someone is caught in North Carolina trafficking drugs, then it is automatically charged as a felony. The type of drug being trafficked along with the amount possessed can result in mandatory minimum sentencing.
Possessing at least 10 pounds of marijuana but less than 49 pounds can result in up to 39 months in prison and a fine of $5,000. Fifty to 1,999 pounds brings with it a penalty of up to 51 months in prison and a fine up to $25,000. The maximum penalty for marijuana trafficking is 222 months in prison and fines of as much as $200,000.
Possessing at least four grams of heroin can lead to trafficking charges. This Class F felony is punishable by up to 93 months in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. The maximum penalty in North Carolina for trafficking heroin is a Class C felony punished by up 282 months in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Possessing 28 to 199 grams of cocaine in North Carolina is a Class G felony, punishable by up to 51 months in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. The maximum penalty for cocaine trafficking is a Class D felony that can be punished by up to 222 months in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for possessing over 400 grams of cocaine.
As activity among tech-savvy North Carolina traffickers increases, not only can getting caught selling drugs online produce charges in North Carolina, but it can also garner the attention of federal agents.
Online Trafficking Can Double Your Legal Trouble
When people can’t meet in person, then it’s natural that commerce activities move into the digital space this day and age, and lately, there’s been a surge in drug sales on the dark web.
However, you should be aware that involving the internet in any crime can bring the federal government into the case. When that involves drugs, the penalties can be staggering.
If found guilty on the federal level, mandatory minimum sentencing kicks in. This can result in a sentence anywhere from 10 years to life in prison for even a first conviction, depending on the quantity and type of drug being trafficked.
The most lenient sentence for schedule III, IV, and V drugs can result in one year in prison and a fine up to $100,000.