Sometimes people who perpetrate crimes assume that evading initial arrest means they escape charges for good. However, this is a false sense of security. In many cases, like drug distribution, investigations take time. Acts committed in the past can come back to haunt you.
A recent case in Asheville shows just how long it can take. After a seven-month investigation, nine people were arrested for an array of crimes, including conspiracy to traffick heroin/opium and continuing a criminal enterprise. The investigation may yet yield more charges against those arrested.
Drug Distribution Charges in North Carolina
North Carolina considers drug distribution a serious crime, harsh consequences wait for those found guilty of it. The drug manufacturing and distribution laws in North Carolina don’t distinguish between a defendant’s intent to produce or distribute controlled substances and actually doing it.
What does this mean? Unexpected activities may fall under the umbrella of drug manufacturing and distribution, such as:
- Possessing a drug that the court believes you intended to distribute
- Any kind of involvement in any step of a drug’s production or distribution
- Maintaining a vehicle or home used for the distribution of drugs
- Delivering drugs even if you were not directly involved in their sale
For any charges of drug manufacturing or distribution to hold in court, the prosecution must prove that you were knowingly involved. They must show that you knew drugs central to the case were a controlled substance, and they need to demonstrate your intention to distribute that controlled substance.
Penalties for Drug Distribution
The penalties for drug distribution depend on the type and quantity of drugs involved in the crime. Any prior convictions can also play a role in the penalties.
The main influential factor is the schedule of the drugs. Drug schedules are set by the DEA on a scale of I to V. Schedule I substances are considered to be the worst type, as they’ve been determined to possess no medical value and a high potential for abuse.
Schedule I and Schedule II Drug Penalties
Distribution of Schedule I or Schedule II drugs, such as methamphetamines, is generally charged as a Class H felony. Selling a Schedule I substance is more serious: a Class G felony. Manufacturing methamphetamines increases to a Class C felony.
A Class H felony may be punished by 25 months in prison at the most, while a Class G felony can result in up to 31 months behind bars.
Class C felonies can land you in prison for even longer, climbing to 231 months.
Schedule II, IV, V, and VI Drug Penalties
These schedules call for a Class I felony except in cases where they’re sold, which is a Class H felony. Class I felonies are punishable by as many as 12 months in prison.
For less than five grams of marijuana, it’s not a violation of the law.
Death By Distribution
North Carolina differs from other places in that it asserts a Death by Distribution law. This increases the severity of the crime for unlawful sale of a controlled substance if the ingestion of the substance caused the death of the user – even if the seller didn’t act with malice. It becomes a Class C felony, which can receive a maximum sentence of 231 months in prison.