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Drug Possession Lawyer in Charlotte NC

By: Bill Powers, Criminal Attorney Charlotte NC, of Powers Law Firm PA

Drug Possession Lawyer in Charlotte NC

Not every criminal defense attorney is an experienced drug lawyer. If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense lawyer, we are here to help with legal representation. It doesn't matter felony vs. misdemeanor, drug possession and trafficking charges in North Carolina are serious and require careful consideration.

Trafficking drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and even prescription medications such as OxyContin, oxycodone, or opioids normally results in active prison terms. The NC drug laws, especially for trafficking drugs, are harsh. It doesn't matter if you don't have a prior criminal record or criminal charges.

If the amount of the drugs or "dosage units" meets the requirements under the law, Drug Trafficking charges can be brought.

That's why it makes sense to call a law office and defense lawyers in Charlotte NC who have courtroom experience. There is just too much at stake not to carefully consider your legal options when asking, "How can a criminal defense lawyer help?"

North Carolina Drug Laws

To see the list of potential North Carolina drug laws, in the order of least severe to most severe (for potential jail time and North Carolina drug penalties), these are the names of those drug crimes:

  • Simple Possession of Marijuana - less than ½ ounce
  • Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana - more than ½ ounce
  • Misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia - Marijuana
  • Felony Possession of Marijuana - 1.5 ounce to 10 pounds
  • Felony Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Sell or Distribute
  • Felony Sale or Delivery of Marijuana
  • Felony Cultivation of Marijuana
  • Trafficking Marijuana

Simple possession of marijuana is one of the more common minor drug charges in North Carolina. It is a misdemeanor drug offense, when the amount is "up to ½ ounce."

It is important to note that alcohol is also a drug, and there are a lot of possession of alcohol offenses in North Carolina. You normally would not expect to see trafficking charges for that type of thing, but there are other criminal offenses in North Carolina for underage possession of alcohol, sale of alcohol to underage persons, and purchase of alcohol by underage persons (18B-302).

The alcohol laws in North Carolina also prohibit things like:

  • Giving alcoholic beverages to minors
  • The purchase, attempt to purchase, or possession of malt beverages or unfortified wine
  • Purchasing, attempting to purchase, or possession of fortified wine, spirituous liquor, or mixed beverages
  • Aiding and abetting underage persons
  • Fraudulent use of identification or fake ID
  • Allowing use of identification

Besides being misdemeanor charges in North Carolina, the law states: Conviction Report Sent to Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) - "The court shall file a conviction report with the Division of Motor Vehicles indicating the name of the person convicted and any other information requested by the Division if the person is convicted of any..."

Trafficking Drugs in North Carolina

The criminal charges of Drug Trafficking in North Carolina are different than other felony cases. There are only two real questions criminal defense lawyers ask when it comes to Trafficking:

  • What type of drug or controlled substance was present?
  • How much of it was there?

That's because under the NC Trafficking laws, that's all that really matters. It is not handled like other felony criminal charges in North Carolina on the Structured Sentencing grid. Anyone convicted of drug trafficking must be sentenced according to one of three "Levels."

There are mandatory fines. The prison sentence is set, regardless of any prior criminal record.

Someone convicted of drug trafficking in North Carolina may NOT be placed on probation, unless the Superior Court Judge finds substantial assistance has been provided in the arrest, ID, or conviction of accomplices and co-conspirators. The Judge is allowed to consider prosecution of other cases.

Trafficking Drugs sentences must run consecutively to any other sentence already being served. Conspiracy of Drug Trafficking criminal charges are punished the same as regular Drug Trafficking.

Attempting Drug Trafficking is the same class of offense, but is sentenced pursuant to the normal Structured Sentencing grid for felony criminal charges in North Carolina.

What is Drug Trafficking in North Carolina?

Every state (as well as federal drug laws) define what constitutes drug trafficking within that "jurisdiction." By the word jurisdiction, when it comes to drug crimes, federal laws cover interstate drug-related crimes, and each state enacts and describes the state drug crimes within the boundaries of that particular state.

The information set forth herein covers the drug trafficking law for the State of North Carolina.

Trafficking in Marijuana: Any person who possesses, sells, manufactures, transports, or delivers more than ten pounds of marijuana.

  • More than 10 lbs, but less than 50 lbs requires a $5,000 fine, 25 months minimum and 39 months maximum in a North Carolina prison
  • 50 lbs or more, but less than 2,000 lbs requires $25,000 fine, 35 months minimum and 51 months maximum in prison
  • 2,000 lbs of marijuana or more, but less than 10,000 lbs, $50,000 fine, 70 months minimum and 93 months maximum in NC prison
  • 10,000 lbs or more, $200,000 fine, and 175 month minimum in prison up to 222 months maximum

Trafficking in Cocaine: Any person who possesses, sells, manufactures, transports, or delivers more than 28 grams of cocaine (or derivatives).

  • 28g or more, but less than 200g: $50,000 fine, 35 months minimum and 51 months maximum in a NC state prison
  • 200g or more, but less than 400g: $100,000 fine, minimum 70 months in prison, maximum 93 months
  • 400g or more: $250,000 fine, 175 months minimum, and 222 months maximum in a North Carolina prison
How Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Fight Drug Trafficking Charges?

Once hired to represent a person charged with drug charges, our Charlotte law firm thoroughly interviews our new client, to establish a "base line" of what he or she knows about HOW the drug trafficking charges may have been "discovered" by law enforcement. Through the criminal discovery process.

Because Trafficking Drugs charges in North Carolina are so serious, experienced criminal defense lawyers, as part of legal representation, ask a series of questions in preparing for trial:

  1. Was there Probable Cause to search?
  2. Were the drugs in Plain View?
  3. Did Officers have Probable Cause to search a Vehicle?
  4. Did law enforcement obtain a Search Warrant?
  5. Was there probable cause to issue a Search Warrant?
  6. Was the Search Warrant properly served?
  7. Was the location and areas to be searched consistent with the Search Warrant?
  8. Was the person charged with trafficking drugs aware of the trafficking?
  9. Was the person accused with the felony drug charges in the wrong place at the wrong time?
  10. Was the person threatened or coerced with bodily harm?

Part of legal representation at our Charlotte aw office includes sitting down with you, going over the factual background, and making sure the State can make out a case for Drug Trafficking.

As experienced criminal defense lawyers we want to look at the North Carolina laws on Searches & Seizures. When it comes to trafficking drugs, more than other NC felonies, we also review how law enforcement became involved. Were there confidential informants? Were there repeated drug buys? Were undercover police officers or informants wearing a wire or recording conversations? What texting messages involve trafficking in drugs?

Are there social media or instant messages about the exchange of drugs? What items were found on the person charged? Were there scales? What packaging materials consistent with trafficking drugs did police find? Were there other assets on hand, like large sums of money, weapons, or materials used to "cut" the controlled substances?

What is Drug Paraphernalia? What are Examples of Drug Paraphernalia in North Carolina?

One of the key issues in many indictments or accusations of possession of drug paraphernalia is to discover what item or items the police may have that are claimed to be contraband (illegal) items. Plus, when the police found the alleged paraphernalia items, how did law enforcement officers establish possession of paraphernalia against our client, unless he or she was physically carrying the items when arrested?

Drug Paraphernalia in North Carolina normally relates to the use or distribution of both illegal and legal drugs. Examples of paraphernalia are rolling papers or small plastic baggies. Criminal charges may involve things like scales used for weighing drugs or pipes associated with smoking things like marijuana, cocaine, crack, and heroin.

Crack paraphernalia may include pieces of "Brillo" or steel wool, glass pipes, butane lighters, or high temperature torch lighters.

Marijuana paraphernalia evidence may be "blunts" or flavored cigars, roach clips, bongs, water bongs, gravity bongs, hookas, "vapes," e-cigarettes, and grinders.

Heroin paraphernalia includes foil with burn marks, aluminum gum wrappers, syringes, bowls, pipes, cotton balls, cigarette filters, plastic bottle tops, spoons, soda cans, rubber bands, surgical tubing, shoelaces for "tying off," and plastic straws.

"Meth" users have paraphernalia like stems, radio antennas, glass pipes, glass cylinders with rounded or orbital-shaped bottoms, light bulbs for smoking, tin foil, aluminum cans, empty ink pens, cut straws, needles, and sandwich baggies.

Obviously a lot depends on how substances are taken or consumed. For example, heroin can be inhaled, in powder form. It can also be smoked in a pipe or injected by needle. Any of those things might be the legal basis for criminal charges in North Carolina for paraphernalia.

Clients often ask if paraphernalia is a felony or misdemeanor. The charge of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in North Carolina is a misdemeanor. BUT, that paraphernalia itself helps prove the trafficking drug charges, showing that the person possessing the paraphernalia had intent to sell, distribute, or manufacture the drug at issue.

Exactly what is drug paraphernalia in North Carolina? Read the following: Article 5B. Drug Paraphernalia.

All equipment, products and materials of any kind that are used to facilitate, or intended or designed to facilitate, violations of the Controlled Substances Act, including planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, and concealing controlled substances and injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing controlled substances into the human body

How are Trafficking Drugs Charges Proved in North Carolina?

Possession of Marijuana One of the more common legal issues defense lawyers in NC see involves the idea of "actual possession vs constructive possession"of the drugs. Actual possession is a bit easier legal concept or criminal charge to understand. If they find drugs on your person, in your pocket or within your personal items, law enforcement will say you actually possessed the drugs.

Constructive possession is a term used by prosecutors, lawyers, judges, and police officers in court during trials for criminal drug charges in NC. It means the person accused of drug charges is believed to have had the drugs on them OR should otherwise be responsible for the drugs, even if they aren't found on their individual person. Drug trafficking charges in North Carolina involving conspiracy is an example where someone might be accused of constructive possession.

Constructive possession is found when you may not have actual physical possession of an illegal drug, but you have knowledge of the drug and the ability to control or direct where the drug goes.

Under the NC drug laws, it is not required that you have exclusive control over the place where the drugs are found. The "proximity to and knowledge of the contraband" may be enough in certain circumstances for constructive possession charges in North Carolina. That applies to drug paraphernalia charges too.

Occasionally defense lawyers review Discovery Materials with Fingerprint or DNA matching evidence. Of course, the State's case for drug possession charges in Charlotte NC is greatly enhanced if there is a confession or admission to possessing or trafficking drugs.

How Much is Jail Time for Selling Drugs Under North Carolina Criminal Laws?

Most clients who hire us have two primary questions when we meet: (1) How much are your legal fees? and (2) How much jail time for selling drugs?

People charged often want to know:

  • The jail time for heroin
  • The jail time for meth or possession of methamphetamine
  • Or whether there even is jail time for drugs like marijuana

The answer frankly depends on the nature and circumstances of each individual case. Drug charges in North Carolina take into consideration the type of drug or controlled substance, how much was possessed, how the substance was packaged, and what paraphernalia was present at the time.

North Carolina Drug Penalties: From Possessing Paraphernalia to Trafficking

The penalties for possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia range from minor fines and court costs, to drug treatment, probation, supervised probation, jail, and prison. The most serious drug charges in NC normally involve Trafficking Drugs, which can mean huge fines and long prison sentences.

Contact Our Law Firm's Criminal Lawyers Charlotte NC

If you need to retain a drug lawyer in North Carolina, our Charlotte attorneys STAND READY to defend you. Managing Partner Bill Powers has practiced criminal law in North Carolina for 26 years. That experience with the criminal justice system has provided him with insight and understanding of the North Carolina criminal law enforcement community.

We are used to answering online questions like, "How to get drug possession charges dropped?, "How to get DA to drop charges?", and "How to beat drug charges?" Given how serious drug charges are and the potential long-term consequences for being convicted or even accused of drug offenses, that only makes sense.

The answer to each of those questions is: Tell us more. What happened? How much? Where? What? When? There are a LOT of important legal issues to discuss when you talk to a defense lawyer.

Mr. Powers has been annually listed by top legal directories such as Martindale-Hubbell (America's oldest), Super Lawyers, and Best Lawyers in America.


Bill and his law partner, lead a three-attorney, Charlotte-based law firm, with a law office emphasis on criminal defense. If you or a loved one are facing North Carolina drug charges, your starting point is to hire an experienced criminal law firm with criminal attorneys who know how to beat a felony drug charge.

Because your phones and computer messages CAN BE TAPPED, our Charlotte lawyers prefer to meet with you IN PERSON. Call our office at 877-462-3841 to set up a FREE initial meeting to discuss your case facts. The meeting and lawyer consultation are FREE, so what do you have to lose?

Client Reviews
I am so fortunate to have had Bill Powers on my case. Upon our first meeting, Bill insisted that through the emotions of anger, sadness, confusion, and betrayal that I remain resilient. He was available to answer questions with researched, logical, truthful answers throughout our two year stretch together. I went to any lengths for my case because he won my trust almost immediately... J.R.
My daughter had a second DUI and when it all seemed hopeless, Bill was able to get the charges dropped. This is a man who is extremely knowledgeable, yet still keeps his integrity which was impressive to me. He handles himself with dignity. If you hire him, you will have the best of the best, along with his expansive intellect and wisdom about the law. Lisa
Bill Powers’ staff has handled several traffic citations for me over the years, and they exceeded my expectations each and every time. Would highly recommend anyone faced with a traffic citation or court case contact his office and they will handle it from there. M.C.
Bill and his staff are flat out great. I (unfortunately) was a repeat customer after a string of tickets. These guys not only took care of the initial ticket for me, but went the extra mile and reduced my problems from 3 to just 1 (very minor one) on the same day I called back! I would recommend them to anyone. A.R.