If you've been arrested for a drug crime in North Carolina, it's possible for you to be charged under a number of different statutes:
If you are accused of trafficking in drugs or conspiracy to traffic in drugs, it's possible for you to be charged by the State authorities - your county prosecutors such as the Wake County District Attorney - or by federal authorities - such as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District Attorney. In fact, since each level of government is considered a separate sovereign, it's possible - although generally not the case - for you to be tried and prosecuted by both the state and the federal governments. Usually, however, if one entity decides to prosecute you, then the other entity will decline prosecution. Generally - although not always - if you had to choose, it'd be better to be charged and prosecuted under state law for two reasons. First, state laws, while still very punitive, tend to be somewhat less punitive than federal laws. Second, federal sentencing has a concept called "relevant conduct" that allows a judge to punish you for any relevant drug or other criminal violations even though those violations may be uncharged or even though a jury may have found you not guilty of those violations. Since "relevant conduct" can create the possibility of being punished even if you are found "not guilty" of almost all charges, there is tremendous pressure in the federal system to enter into a plea agreement with the government.
Misdemeanors, as the name suggests, are less serious criminal offenses, usually punishable by court costs, fines, and, possibly, probation. Only rarely is a misdemeanor drug conviction or misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction punished by jail time. North Carolina has a number of misdemeanor drug laws, including, but not limited to:
Misdemeanor Possession of Schedule VDrugs Punishable as a Class 2 Misdemeanor:
Felonies are more serious drug charges that are punishable, usually, by probation and possibly prison time, especially if the person has a bad criminal record. Most North Carolina drug felonies are Class G, H, or I felonies with the exception of Drug Trafficking Laws (covered below). Meth manufacture may be punished as a Class C felony.
At the top of the pyramid of drug laws are Drug Trafficking Laws. These are laws that prohibit the large scale possession, transportation or distribution (sale) of controlled substances, even though in certain cases the amounts that qualify as drug trafficking weights are not very large at all. Drug Trafficking laws in North Carolina are characterized by two components. First, they require a mandatory minimum jail sentence. A person convicted of drug trafficking will spend time in prison. Second, the only way to avoid prison time if convicted of a drug trafficking crime is by providing "substantial assistance" (known on the street as "snitching") to authorities. If a judge finds that substantial assistance has been offered by the defendant, the judge may deviate from the mandatory minimums and impose a lesser sentence, including probation. In order to take advantage of substantial assistance, it is almost always important to contact a lawyer as early in the process as possible. Since most valuable information or the ability to assist law enforcement in making covert drug buys vanishes pretty soon after arrest, it's important that you act quickly if you believe that substantial assistance may be the right way to go in your case. Next, it's important to participate in a substantial assistance agreement with prosecutors under the guidance of your own lawyer. By working with a lawyer, you can ensure that you get full credit for all the information and cooperation you provide to police or prosecutors. Each drug trafficking category has three or four levels of punishment.
Trafficking in Marijuana
Trafficking in Methqualone
Trafficking in Cocaine (including Crack or Powder)
Trafficking in Heroin or Opium
Trafficking in LSD 100 dosage units up to 500 dosage units - 35 to 42 months in prison. 1. 500 up to 1,000 dosage units - 70 to 84 months in prison.
Trafficking in MDMA 100 tablets up to 500 tablets - 35 to 42 months in prison. 1. 500 up to 1,000 tablets - 70 to 84 months in prison.