Drug Trafficking Charges
Drug offenses carry the potential for long-lasting consequences, including a permanent record. An indictment for drug trafficking charges can result in serious prison time, even with no prior criminal history or convictions.
If you’ve been arrested for trafficking, we strongly recommend you speak with a Durham criminal lawyer without delay. Exercise your right to remain silent under the 5th Amendment.
Trafficking charges can be deceptively simple, especially regarding the possible punishments for violating Chapter 90-95 of the NC criminal laws.
They also may be viewed as regressive in nature, as sentencing for such matters does not involve consideration or calculation of a Prior Record Level or “PRL” consistent with the NC felony sentencing guidelines/grid.
What is Drug Trafficking?
“It’s not unusual people for be taken aback when they hear the lack of prior record or intent to sell or deliver drugs often isn’t at issue.”
– Cole Williams, Durham Criminal Defense Attorney
The State of North Carolina carries the Burden of Proof in all criminal charges. That’s true for whether the allegations are for a felony or misdemeanor charge.
Trafficking in North Carolina is a felony offense.
The personal facing criminal allegations, the “defendant,” carries no burden of proof or responsibility to present evidence. An arrest and indictment is not considered evidence of guilt.
The legal standard for criminal charges, unlike civil matters, is Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.
Evidence submitted by the State for a prima facie showing (the “essential elements” of a case) is really quite simple:
- Did the accused knowingly and unlawfully possess a controlled substance; and,
- How much of the controlled substance is involved?
It’s important to note, drug trafficking charges may be prosecuted under both federal and/or state laws.
If you have questions about your specific legal matter, we strongly recommend you speak with a Durham criminal lawyer immediately.
There are substantial differences between State and Federal drug trafficking charges and the associated consequences.North Carolina State Drug Trafficking Charges
Drug trafficking in North Carolina may involve a wide range of different controlled substances, including but not limited to:
- Heroin, Opium, Opioids, and Opiates
- Amphetamines, Methamphetamines
- Marijuana, “Weed” and Synthetic Marijuana
- MDA, Ecstasy, the “Love Drug”
- MDMA “Molly”
- Methaqualone, Barbituates
The NC Pattern Jury Instructions (PJI) are broad and inclusive in nature. Controlled substances may include mixtures of both legal and illegal substances.
In relevant part, the “PJI” is relatively simple.
In order to find someone guilty of Trafficking Drugs, the prosecutor (the “State”) need only prove:
- The person accused of the drug charges (trafficking) knowingly possessed the controlled substance at issue; and,
- The amount of the controlled substance(s).
Lawful possession of a controlled substance may serve as a defense to criminal charges.
The intent to control or otherwise “possess” the controlled substances may be an issue at trial.
The State need not introduce evidence of an intent to sell or deliver drugs, (PWISD), prior criminal history, or a history of selling drugs.Possible Punishments for Drug Trafficking in North Carolina
Sentencing is set forth pursuant to N.C.G.S. 90-95 and can be rather rigid in application.
N.C.G.S. 90-95(h)(3) addresses trafficking cocaine and the associated “levels” and/or periods of imprison.
- 28+ grams up to 199.99 grams (less than 200 grams) is subject to 35 to 51 months of possible imprisonment.
- 200+ grams up to 399.99 grams (less than 400 grams) is subject to 70 to 93 months of possible imprisonment.
- 400+ grams is subject to 175 to 222 months of possible
Each case is different/unique. Speak to defense counsel without delay in determining the best-case and worst-case scenario for your individual legal matter.
There may be legal defenses available, depending on the nature and circumstances of the criminal charges.Durham Criminal Defense Law Firm