What Type of Sentence Can a Convicted Drug Offender Expect in North Carolina?

North Carolina law has a complex sentencing system for the conviction of both felony and misdemeanor crimes. Thus, it is not generally possible to accurately predict the classification of the charges or the penalties without knowing specifics about the type of crime, the specific drug and the quantity involved and the criminal history of the offender. Even the crime of trafficking marijuana can represent a Class D, F, G or H felony in North Carolina, depending on the quantity involved, while simple possession may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony crime. However, regardless of the level of charges, anyone accused of drug charges needs to retain a skilled drug defense attorney to obtain the best possible results for a case.

In an effort to create sentencing guidelines that are rational, truthful and consistent ― while prioritizing the use of detention facilities ― North Carolina instituted a structured sentencing program. This program essentially assigns a specific felony or misdemeanor level to each crime. Before determining the sentence, it assigns a separate classification based on the prior criminal history of the offender.

These two classifications determine the type and length of the sentence. Drug possession charges would typically fall within this system. However, according to A Citizen’s Guide to Structured Sentencing, available online from the North Carolina Courts, structured sentencing laws do not apply to either DWI or drug trafficking crimes.

Experienced criminal defense lawyers may have the ability to estimate the likely penalties for a specific type of conviction. However, when their clients face any type of felony charges in North Carolina, their true role is to explore all legal avenues available to reduce or eliminate sentences. Even if the prosecution has compelling evidence to support its case, defense attorneys can often plea-bargain for a reduction in charges, based on mitigating circumstances or other considerations.

Facing drug or criminal charges can be a stressful and confusing experience for anyone. Miranda rights exist specifically to help protect people accused of crimes from inadvertently making self-incriminating statements or otherwise harming their cases. People should never face law enforcement questioning or the criminal courts without an experienced defense attorney at their sides. With more than half a century of experience defending clients in North Carolina and federal courts, the law firm of Hatch, Little & Bunn, L.L.P. provides comprehensive and skilled legal defense without judgment. Contact us to learn how we can help.

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