What Happens if I am Caught With Cocaine in North Carolina?
If you are charged with a cocaine offense in North Carolina, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed. This is really understandable, considering how strict North Carolina’s drug laws are. Looking at the law in black and white text, it may seem pretty grim. In North Carolina, the possession of cocaine in any amount, even a very small amount, is a felony, because it is classified as a schedule II substance. However, an experienced North Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer can likely help you to see other available outcomes and options. For instance, depending on the circumstances of your case, your criminal defense lawyer may be able to qualify you for a deferral program, reduce your charges to a misdemeanor, or negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution.
Penalties for Possession
In North Carolina, there are different levels of cocaine-related offenses, which correspond with penalties of increasing severity. Possession of a small amount of cocaine carries the least harsh penalties, as it is classified as a Class I Felony (or the lowest class of felonies). The law recommends a penalty for 6-12 months in prison for a first-time offender caught in possession of a small amount of cocaine (“simple possession”). However, in reality, it is very rare for a first time offender with an attorney to serve any time in prison.
If there is evidence of intent to sell or deliver cocaine, the charge is upgraded to a Class H Felony. This charge carries a penalty of up to 10 months in jail for first-time offenders, and up to 30 months in jail for offenders with prior criminal histories. Someone is likely to be charged with Possession With Intent to Sell or Deliver (PWISD) cocaine if items like plastic baggies, a scale, cash, or other things that would indicate an intent to sell or distribute the cocaine are found on their person or within their proximity. If no evidence to support PWISD is recovered, the charge can be made based on police surveillance or recorded sales with undercover informants.
The sale or distribution of cocaine is a Class G felony, which carries a penalty of up to 31 months in prison. If the amount of cocaine seized is greater than 28 grams in weight, it is considered drug trafficking under North Carolina state law. Trafficking 28-200 grams of cocaine carries a prison sentence of up to 70 months, while trafficking up to 400 grams of cocaine is elevated to a Class F felony, and can carry a sentence of up to 93 months in prison. If the amount of cocaine is over 400 grams, it is a Class D felony, carrying between 175 and 219 months in prison.
Talk to a North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a cocaine offense in North Carolina, it is important to get an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side as soon as possible. An attorney will zealously advocate on your behalf, and help ensure that you receive the best possible outcome for your specific situation. Contact the experienced Southeastern North Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyers at Coastal South Law and schedule a consultation today.