DRUG TRAFFICKING IS NO JOKE
Drug Trafficking Charges Can Lead To Time In Prison
DRUG TRAFFICKING CHARGES IN NORTH CAROLINA
Drug trafficking charges are the most serious and egregiously punished drug offenses under North Carolina law. They are the only drug offenses that have mandatory minimum prison terms written into the law. The North Carolina First Step Act was passed in 2020 with extremely narrow exceptions under which someone convicted of trafficking may be relieved from these mandatory minimums, but those exceptions apply to very few cases. If you are facing drug trafficking charges it is absolutely critical that you speak with an experienced drug trafficking defense attorney because literal decades of your life may be on the line. The defense attorneys at PRJ Law understand the gravity of these specific charges and will aggressively defend your rights.
Only two things separate drug trafficking charges from other drug offenses in North Carolina. First, the substance involved. Certain controlled substances simply do not have potential trafficking charges attached. For example, there is no law that states “trafficking in alprazolam (Xanax)” is a crime. Thus, the most you could be charged with for possessing alprazolam would be possession (or possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver) a Schedule IV substance, regardless of the amount involved. The substances with trafficking laws are marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, methaqualone, cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, substituted cathinones, opium/opiate/opiods, LSD, and MDMA/MDA.
The second distinguishing factor for trafficking charges is simply weight. Once you cross over a certain threshold weight for one of the 10 listed substances above, the charge automatically becomes trafficking.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRAFFICKING?
The are five different types of trafficking that can apply to any one of the 10 different trafficking substances. The government has to specify what type of trafficking for which they are prosecuting you. The five types are trafficking by possession, trafficking by sale, trafficking by delivery, trafficking by transportation, or trafficking by manufacture. However, the seriousness of what you are charged with does not vary based on which of these types of trafficking. That will be, again, based on the quantity involved. Read more below for more details.
Is the threshold amount the same for each of the drugs?
No. Beyond the type of trafficking, there are also levels of trafficking that are based on drug-specific quantities. Commonly-prosecuted trafficking charges, their threshold amounts, and subsequent punishment level under N.C.G.S. § 90-95(h) include:
- More than 10 pounds but fewer than 50 pounds: This is only a Class H felony, but because it is a trafficking charge, it has a mandatory minimum prison term of 25 months and maximum of 39 months, in addition to a mandatory fine of at least $5,000.
- 50 pounds or more but less than 2,000 pounds: Class G felony, but with a mandatory 35 to 51 month sentence and at least a $25,000 fine.
- 2,000 pounds or more but less than 10,000 pounds: Class F felony, mandatory 70 to 93 months, at least a $50,000 fine.
- 10,000 pounds or more: Class D felony, mandatory 175 to 222 months, at least a $200,000 fine.
- 28 grams or more but less than 200 grams: Class G felony, mandatory 35 to 51 months, at least a $50,000 fine.
- 200 grams or more but less than 400 grams: Class F felony, mandatory 70 to 93 months, at least a $100,000 fine.
- 400 grams or more: Class D felony, mandatory 175 months to 222 months, at least a $250,000 fine.
- 28 grams or more but less than 200 grams: Class F felony, mandatory 70 to 93 months, at least a $50,000 fine.
- 200 grams or more but less than 400 grams: Class E felony, mandatory 90 to 120 months, at least a $100,000 fine.
- 400 grams or more: Class C felony, mandatory 225 to 282 months, at least a $250,000 fine.
- 4 grams or more but less than 14 grams: Class F felony, mandatory 70 to 93 months, at least a $50,000 fine
- 14 grams or more but less than 28 grams: Class E felony, mandatory 90 to 120 months, at least a $100,000 fine.
- 28 grams or more: Class C felony, mandatory 225 to 282 months, at least a $500,000 fine.
Charged with attempt
WHAT ABOUT ATTEMPT?
If you are charged with the attempt to commit any type of trafficking, or if the State’s case against you is extremely strong and you wish for your attorney to try to negotiate a plea deal for attempted trafficking instead of going to trial, it is important to know this: Under N.C.G.S. § 90-98, the Class of felony will remain the same, but you will be sentenced according to North Carolina’s regular felony sentencing grid and not subject to the mandatory minimum prison sentences that apply to completed trafficking charges. For example, if you were charged with Class E trafficking in heroin by possession but pled to the attempt version of that offense, you would go from facing a 90 to 120 month mandatory sentence to potentially as little as a 15 to 30 month suspended sentence, depending on your criminal record (a suspended sentence is one in which you do not serve any active jail or prison time unless you violate your probation and are sent to serve the suspended sentence, or unless the judge orders you to serve a short jail “split” as a condition of your probation).
north Carolina courts
Find My Local Courthouse
Locate your local courthouse by city or zip code.
Find My Court Date
Search the NC courthouse calendars to see when you need to appear in court.
Prepare for Jury Service
Find out what to expect when you arrive, how to conduct yourself, and what you need to do when you serve as a juror.