Drug possession might be a fairly common charge in North Carolina, but that doesn’t make it any less serious. The courts of North Carolina treat drug charges very seriously and you have every right to be nervous. Anytime you are at risk of losing your good reputation and even your freedom, a little apprehension is normal. Having an experienced defense lawyer on your side may put your mind at ease knowing you have someone advocating on your behalf, working to ensure you get the best possible results.
In North Carolina, drugs are classified by “schedule” according to dangerousness and risk of addiction.
The charge and potential penalty you face for a drug possession depends wholly on the drug in question. If you are accused of possessing a Schedule I drug like heroin, for instance, you will face much harsher penalties than if you are found in possession of a Schedule IV drug like valium.
North Carolina Drug Possession – Schedule I Drugs
This classification includes drugs like heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. This is considered a Class I felony and carries a potential 3 to 8 months in the state prison system along with fines.
Possession of Schedule II Drugs
Schedule II drugs are slightly less dangerous than Schedule I drugs but they still have a very high risk of addiction. These include methamphetamines, cocaine, methadone, and opium. Possession of these substances is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries a potential 6 to 12 months in jail.
Possession of Schedule III Drugs
Schedule III substances are addictive but they also have some acceptable medical uses. They include things like ketamine, anabolic steroids, and some depressants. If you are accused of possessing drugs like this, you could face Class 1 misdemeanor charges with 6 to 12 months in jail.
Possession of Schedule IV Drugs
These drugs are often prescribed by medical doctors though they are addictive. They include Xanax, Valium, and other sedatives. Possession of a Schedule IV drug is a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries 6 to 12 months in jail.
Possession of Schedule V Drugs
Schedule V substances have a very low addiction risk but they are still controlled by prescription. They are typically medications that include codeine. Possession of a Schedule V is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor which carries a potential sentence of 30 days to 6 months in jail.
Possession of Schedule VI Drugs
Schedule VI drugs are those that have no medical use and a very low risk of addiction. In North Carolina, marijuana is classified under Schedule VI. (See our North Carolina Marijuana Possession page for additional information). Possession of a Schedule VI is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor and carries up to 30 days in jail.
Ref: NCGS §90-91
All of these listed penalties represent the maximum allowable sentences under North Carolina law. It is rare to see a judge sentence someone to the maximum penalty, though it occasionally happens. The results of your case depend on the specific circumstances surrounding it. Things like a criminal record and the amount of drugs you had can affect your sentence greatly.
The only certain way to know what you are facing and what can be done to avoid the most severe penalties is to consult with a local defense lawyer. Contact us to speak with a North Carolina criminal defense lawyer today.