North Carolina has very strict drug trafficking laws that are designed to punish individuals that sell or distribute prescription drugs that are not officially prescribed by doctors.
However, it is important to take note that a lot of drug trafficking prosecutors often rely on the amount of drugs or pills that are found in the defendant’s possession, as this determines the gravity and severity of the punishment. The kind of sentence and penalties someone charged of prescription drug crimes actually depend on these factors.
This may be one of the reasons why a lot of people consider North Carolina’s laws very strict as, after all, laws that may turn possession of prescription painkillers into drug trafficking crimes may be able to put a lot of people in danger. However, it is also important to take note that judges still have discretion when it comes to sentencing, so it may all boil down to the scenarios surrounding the charges whether or not the sentences may be too severe or not.
Regardless, it may be important to get a refresher on the kind of drugs that may get one arrested and their corresponding penalties but a experience criminal defense attorney in NC can help you.
Prescription drugs are actually divided into classes called “Schedules,” which can determine the gravity of the sentence associated with drugs under a specific category.
- Schedule I drugs include drugs like LSD, heroin and ecstasy. This is a Class I felony and can carry a potential of three (3) to eight (8) months in the state prison system. This may also have its respective fines.
- Schedule II drugs include methamphetamines, cocaine, methadone and opium. They are slightly less dangerous than their previous counterpart, but they have high risk of addiction. It can carry a potential of six (6) to 12 months in jail as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Schedule III drugs include ketamine, anabolic steroids and some depressants. They are addictive but have an acceptable number of medical uses. If a person possesses these, he or she can face Class 1 misdemeanor charges and may stay up to six (6) to 12 months in jail.
- Schedule IV drugs are often prescribed by doctors, but they are addictive. These include Xanax, Valium and other sedatives. Possession of such drugs illegally is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and may merit up to six (6) to 12 months in prison.
- Schedule V drugs are not that addictive, but they are still controlled by prescription. They are generally related to codeine. This is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which can carry a potential sentence of 30 days to six (6) months in jail.
- Schedule VI drugs have no medical use and have very low risk of addiction. This includes marijuana. Possession of these drugs can be considered a Class 3 misdemeanor and can carry up to 30 days of jail time.
Of course, those facing conviction may not find these options ideals. Sentences are often only reduced if individuals are informants, and in some cases this is a dangerous activity in itself.
Judges may also lower sentences for trafficking or attempted trafficking. This may potentially reduce a person’s sentence to about 15 months. A sentencing judge may even use the habitual felon law to reduce the sentence of a person.