Distribution of a controlled substance is a serious offense in North Carolina that can result in stiff penalties, including jail time and criminal fines. If you are accused of distributing a controlled substance, you should be aware of the laws surrounding it and how they can impact you.
As we take a look at the North Carolina law on controlled substances, we’ll also look at the potential penalties as well as why you need a criminal defense attorney to represent you against these types of charges.
Federal Laws on Controlled Substances
Under U.S. federal law, it is illegal to distribute controlled substances (also referred to as illegal drugs). The federal definition of a controlled substance refers to:
- Illegal drugs
- Counterfeit drugs
- Similar substances
Anyone found to manufacture or distribute these substances can expect to face severe criminal penalties. It is also illegal to conspire with people to commit these types of crimes.
North Carolina Law On Controlled Substances
In North Carolina, a felony drug charge can include charges for possession, sale, manufacture, and distribution of a controlled substance.
The penalties for felony drug charges can vary but can include a prison sentence, probation, and large fines. In some cases, a felony drug charge may also result in the loss of certain rights, such as the right to vote or own a firearm.
Drug Trafficking vs. Distribution
While some people may think that drug trafficking and distribution are the same, there is a distinct difference.
Distribution deals with the movement of drugs. It can include several examples of illegal activities in the movement of drugs. These include:
- Selling drugs to someone
- Giving drugs to another individual
- Shipping drugs via mail
- Transporting drugs via car, boat, plane, or another mode of transportation
- Advertising the sale of drugs
- Coordinating the transport or sale of drugs
Drug trafficking deals with the weight of drugs. The controlled substance does not have to be moving for there to be a drug trafficking charge. Many people assume that to face a drug trafficking charge it must involve crossing borders, but that is not the case. Getting caught with drugs in larger amounts, even if you are not moving them across borders, can result in drug trafficking offenses.
Elements Of Distribution Of A Controlled Substance
It’s important to note that the distribution of a controlled substance does not have to involve money changing hands. You can be charged with distribution if you unlawfully delivered a substance to someone else. This means that even sharing prescription medicine with a friend may constitute these types of charges. Many people don’t realize this when they engage in this type of activity.
Potential Penalties For Substance Distribution
If you are found guilty of controlled substance distribution, the penalties can vary depending on the substance. Heroin possession and distribution are among some of the most serious drug offenses. As with other drugs, the quantity is also a factor in how authorities charge the offense.
Whether you are found guilty of possession or distribution of heroin, it is a felony offense.
- Heroin possession is a Class 1 felony and carries a prison sentence of 6 to 12 months behind bars as well as fines and possibly losing your license.
- Heroin distribution of 4-14 grams is a Class F felony. This carries harsher penalties of more than five years to a maximum of seven years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
- If the amount of heroin increases to 14-28 grams, there is a potential sentencing range of 7.5 to 9.5 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
- Heroin distribution is a Class C felony if you are found in possession of 28 grams or more. The sentencing range is nearly 19 years in prison to more than 23 years in prison with a $500,000 fine.
Simple possession of marijuana is a less serious offense than distribution. If you are found guilty of marijuana sale or distribution, the penalties are:
- Class 1 felony for distribution, but not when under 5 grams for no consideration
- Class H felony sale or distribution of 10 to 50 pounds with fines up to $5,000 and a prison sentence of 25 to 30 months
- Class G felony sale or distribution of 50 to 2,000 pounds with 35 to 42 months in prison with fines of up to $25,000.
- Class F felony includes the sale and distribution of 2,000 pounds up to 10,000 and carries a $50,000 fine and 70 to 84 months in prison.
- Class D felony is the most serious with the sale or distribution of over 10,000 pounds and fines up to $200,000 and 175 to 219 months in prison.
Death By Distribution of Controlled Substances
Under North Carolina law, anyone who illegally sells a controlled substance that leads to someone’s death could face second-degree murder. They can be charged with a Class B2 felony, which carries a penalty of up to 40 years if they have been previously convicted of unlawful distribution. If there are no previous convictions, it can be a Class C felony charge that carries a maximum of up to 20 years in prison.
A person can be found guilty of death by distribution of a controlled substance if:
- The person unlawfully sells at least one certain controlled substance.
- The ingestion of the controlled substance causes the user’s death.
- The commission of the offense was the proximate cause of the victim’s death.
- The person did not act with malice.
If you are facing these types of charges, it’s important to have a criminal defense attorney to represent you in court.
Potential Controlled Substance Defenses
If you find yourself facing charges involving the distribution of a controlled substance, there are several defenses that your attorney may try on your behalf.
Lack of knowledge
For a conviction of distribution, the defendant must have knowingly distributed a controlled substance. But, if you were unaware that you had a controlled substance, you can’t be found criminally liable. An experienced attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor that you had a lack of knowledge and did not commit a crime.
Not intended for human use
Some controlled substances are illegal for humans to use but allowed for other uses with a proper license. Some substances can be possessed legally with the appropriate license if it is designed for animal use.
Mistake of facts
A mistake of fact can be used as a defense when you distribute a controlled substance because you reasonably believed it was a different, legal substance. Some defendants may argue that they believed the marijuana they are accused of distributing was oregano.
Contact The Law Offices Of J.M. Kotzker To Talk With An Experienced Drug Crimes Lawyer Today
When you find yourself facing criminal charges involving the distribution of a controlled substance, you want to have The Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker on your side. The team has over 30 years of experience you need if you’re facing drug charges. They will explain your constitutional rights and prepare your defense.
Call us today at [phone] or contact us online if you need professional legal help.