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For many in North Carolina who are charged with drug-related crimes, it’s not uncommon to see a charge for something called “keeping or maintaining a drug dwelling or vehicle for the use of a controlled substance”, as well. What does this charge mean? Is it a misdemeanor or a felony?

If you are charged with maintaining a drug dwelling or vehicle in North Carolina, whether as a misdemeanor or felony charge, it’s very serious. It can result in consequences that can impact your life for years to come. That’s why it’s vital to understand what this charge is and how it can impact your case.

Here’s what you need to know about maintaining a drug dwelling or vehicle in North Carolina.

Keeping or Maintaining a Drug Dwelling in North Carolina

If a person’s car is stopped or their house is searched, and the police find evidence that the vehicle or dwelling is being used to sell or use drugs, then a person can be charged with maintaining a drug dwelling or vehicle.

However, it’s not just a car or a house that can garner a charge like this. It can also be charged if a boat, store, or some other vehicle or place is used for the purpose of selling or using drugs.

In order for the misdemeanor version of this crime to be proven in court, it must be shown that someone knowingly maintained or kept a shop, dwelling, building, store, boat, plane, warehouse, or some other place that is being unlawfully used for the purpose of keeping, selling, or using a controlled substance.

For a person to be convicted of a felony for maintaining a drug dwelling in North Carolina, it must be shown that they intentionally and knowingly acted in the same way as a misdemeanor charge.

How Is This Charge Proven in Court?

The idea of keeping or maintaining a drug dwelling is no doubt very complicated to prove in court. One of the ways the prosecutors do this is by establishing that the person being charged maintained, leased, owned, or otherwise was responsible for the dwelling, property, or vehicle in question.

This can be established in several ways, including:

  • If the accused had legal title to the property in question
  • If the accused paid taxes on that property
  • If the accused paid for upkeep and repairs of the property
  • If the accused paid rent
  • If the accused paid utilities or otherwise contributed to covering expenses
  • If the accused lived in the property or occupied it
  • If the accused possessed the property in question for a period of time
  • If the accused had a key for the property

Simply occupying the property may not be enough to prove this type of charge in court, so the total circumstances surrounding the property are taken into consideration when trying to establish the case against the defendant.

Penalties for Keeping and Maintaining a Drug Dwelling

Penalties for Keeping and Maintaining a Drug Dwelling

In North Carolina, those convicted of maintaining a drug dwelling or vehicle can face misdemeanor or felony charges. If convicted, the penalties include:


This crime is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. That means that, if found guilty, a person can face up to four months in jail as well as other penalties, such as drug treatment, fines, and probation.


For a felony conviction, the penalty for this Class I felony can include up to one year in prison as well as fines, drug treatment, probation, and house arrest.


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