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Understanding the penalties for drug crimes in North Carolina

Drug usage and trafficking are major concerns in the modern U.S. It affects both minors and adults and may result in serious long-term consequences.

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, almost 20% of individuals used illegal drugs at some point in their lives. One form repercussions may take for them is legal.

Drugs fall under six schedules

North Carolina categorizes drugs as belonging to one of six schedules, with one being the most addictive and dangerous and six the least. The penalties for possession or trafficking of these increase in severity from six to one.

Drug offenses fall under two categories

Possession and trafficking are the two illicit drug activities the state recognizes. The former, which usually comes with less harsh punishments, may also fit into subdivisions, including possession with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of chemicals needed to manufacture drugs. The amount of drugs a person has plays a role in the determination of the charge.

Penalties differ based on the severity of the offense

Based on the amount of the drug in possession, the schedule of the drug and the presence or lack thereof of past selling or intent to sell, a drug offense may be a misdemeanor or a felony. Having a schedule one drug is instantly a felony. Having schedules two through six drugs is a misdemeanor if it is a first offense, which carries a potential punishment of weeks up to a month of jail time. A second offense is a misdemeanor for schedules five and six drugs and a felony, with prison time and large fines as the penalty, for others. Trafficking is a felony.

North Carolina has strict drug regulations. There do exist options for defense against drug charges, though.