State law enforcement maintains a constant focus on drug trafficking in the Charlotte area and that diligence often results in arrests. According to WSOCTV, two men in north Charlotte were arrested as the result of this kind of thorough drug investigation.
Cocaine, MDMA, heroin, marijuana were found in large quantities in their dwelling, along with large amounts of money. All the elements needed to charge offenders with drug trafficking in North Carolina.
North Carolina takes drug trafficking very seriously and the laws reflect that. Here’s what you need to know about the drug trafficking laws and their associated penalties in the state along with mandatory minimum sentencing for drug trafficking convictions.
What is Drug Trafficking in North Carolina?
Drug trafficking means selling, manufacturing, transporting, distributing, or possessing a large amount of a controlled substance.
Furthermore, if you are believed to be working in conjunction with another person or persons in trafficking drugs, you can face additional charges for conspiracy to traffic drugs.
The Purpose of NC Drug Trafficking Laws
In North Carolina, drug trafficking laws are meant to prohibit large-scale distribution, transportation, and possession of controlled substances. That’s why the amount of drugs is taken into consideration when being charged with a drug crime.
NC Drug Trafficking and Mandatory Minimums
Drug trafficking is different than other drug charges in North Carolina because of mandatory minimum sentencing, too. If you are convicted of drug trafficking, then you will be sentenced to a jail term that you are required to serve.
The Minimum Quantities of Drugs
There are also minimum quantities associated with drugs that will result in a drug trafficking charge. These include:
- Marijuana – 10 pounds or more
- Synthetic marijuana – 50 doses or more
- Cocaine – 28 grams or more
- Opium, heroin, hydrocodone or oxycodone – 4 grams or more
- MDMA or LSD – 100 tablets or more
If you are caught with these minimum quantities of drugs, then you can face felony drug trafficking charges anywhere in the state.
Penalties for Drug Trafficking in North Carolina
In North Carolina, drug trafficking is a felony drug offense. Because of this, it can trigger the application of mandatory minimum sentencing, meaning you may spend a considerable amount of time in prison even if this is a first-time offense.
In the state of North Carolina, there is a structured sentencing system. Criminal offenses are classed at specific levels according to statutes.
The Sentence Structure System in NC
If convicted, the criminal sentence is based on this structured system based on the quantity of the substance found as well as any previous criminal history. The classes and corresponding sentences in prison are as follows:
- Class C – Minimum of 225 months / maximum of 282 months plus fines up to $500,000
- Class D – Minimum of 175 months / maximum of 222 months plus fines up to $250,000
- Class E – Minimum of 90 months / maximum of 120 months plus fines up to $100,000
- Class F – Minimum of 70 months / maximum of 93 months plus fines up to $100,000
- Class G – Minimum of 35 months / maximum of 51 months plus fines up to $50,000
- Class H – Minimum of 25 months / maximum of 39 months plus fines up to $5,000
Penalty Class Depends on Type and Quantity of Drug
The type of drug a person is found in possession of as well as the amount will determine what class is charged and the resulting sentences and fines. Opioids and heroin fall under the highest penalty range according to drug trafficking laws. So, a relatively low quantity of opioids or heroin can result in a serious charge for drug trafficking.
It’s also worth noting that in North Carolina, that when drugs such as cocaine and heroin are often mixed with filler agents when being cut for sale, it is not taken into consideration when determining the total weight of the drugs in an offender’s possession.
Mandatory minimum sentences cannot be run concurrently with other sentences and are not eligible for probation, parole, or sentence suspension.
When Does North Carolina Drug Trafficking Become a Federal Crime?
Sometimes, drug trafficking in the state of North Carolina may be pursued by federal authorities. There are a variety of reasons this can occur, but it’s normally due to the weight of drugs, who may be involved in the case, and if the drugs crossed over state lines at any point.
Moreover, it’s not unheard of for drug trafficking to be prosecuted both on a state and federal level independently. What you should be aware of, though, is that in federal court, drug trafficking crimes have much harsher penalties. Federal drug charges can also make state drug charges more complicated.
Drug trafficking can land someone in jail for many years, so it’s important to understand your rights and what you may be facing if arrested on drug trafficking charges.