North Carolina takes the crime of drug trafficking very seriously. Many people associate drug trafficking with complex criminal organizations or crime syndicates but the truth is that an average citizen can be charged with drug trafficking.
Additionally, you may believe that if you do not make or sell drugs, but only possess them, you cannot be charged with drug trafficking. However, you could face a drug trafficking charge if you are simply found in possession of a large amount of illegal drugs.
The crime of drug trafficking
Drug trafficking in North Carolina covers many different types of drugs and drug-related activities. You can be charged with drug trafficking for possessing, selling or transporting a controlled substance such as marijuana, cocaine, LSD, heroin or methamphetamine.
The level of felony you are charged with if you are arrested for drug trafficking depends on the amount of the drug you are found with. You could be charged with a class C, D, E, F, G or H felony. The potential penalties depend on the felony level and the drug.
However, there are mandatory minimum penalties that include prison sentences ranging from two to 18 years. For example, if you are found in possession of between 10 and 50 pounds of marijuana, you could be charged with a Class H felony, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison.
Even after you serve your time and pay your fines, the consequences of a felony conviction can impact your life on a long-term or permanent basis. You may face difficulty with finding housing and employment and be disqualified from government assistance such as student loans or Medicaid benefits.
Additionally, a felony conviction could mean you face the loss of your right to vote and bear arms.
Defending yourself against a drug trafficking charge
This is why it is vital to put on a strong defense against a drug trafficking charge. It is important to remember that the prosecution has the burden of proving each element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.
When it comes to drug trafficking, the prosecution must prove that you knowingly possessed, sold or delivered the drug. Intent is a key element of a drug trafficking charge. Without intent, they cannot prove their case.
You also have many legal rights when you are arrested and charged with a crime. One is the right to be free from illegal search and seizure. If you are pulled over for a routine traffic stop, the police cannot search your vehicle for drugs or evidence of a crime without probable cause.
A violation of this or any other right can lead to a dismissal of the charges. After you are arrested, working with someone who can help you navigate the complex criminal justice system and defend your interests can increase your chance of a favorable outcome.