Common Types of Drug Crimes in North Carolina (2024)

Doug Edwards

Drug crimes are taken very seriously in the state, with strict laws and severe penalties for those convicted. Understanding the common types of drug crimes in North Carolina and the potential consequences can help individuals navigate their cases with a bit more ease. Knowing the common charges, penalties, and the importance of legal representation is vital to understanding the drug charges against you.

Types of Drug Crimes

The state classifies drug crimes into different categories based on the type and amount of the controlled substance, as well as the nature of the offense. Some common drug crimes include drug possession, possession with intent to distribute, drug trafficking, manufacturing, and drug paraphernalia.

Drug Possession

Drug possession, sometimes referred to as simple possession, is one of the most common drug charges in the state. It typically involves having a small amount of a controlled substance for personal use. The severity of the charge depends on the type and amount of the drug:

  • Marijuana. Possession of up to 0.5 ounce is a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $200 and potentially up to 20 days in jail. Possession of more than 0.5 ounce but less than 1.5 ounces is a Class 1 misdemeanor, carrying penalties of up to 45 days in jail and a fine. Possession of more than 1.5 ounces is a Class I felony, which can lead to up to 12 months in prison.
  • Other controlled substances. Possession of Schedule I or II drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, is typically a Class I felony, while possession of Schedule III, IV, V, or VI drugs, such as certain prescription medications and other less dangerous drugs, may result in misdemeanor charges.

Possession With Intent to Distribute

When someone is caught with a larger amount of drugs in North Carolina, law enforcement officials may charge them with possession with intent to distribute. This charge is more severe than drug possession because it indicates that the individual intended to sell or distribute the drugs, thus affecting additional people. Factors that can lead to this charge include the amount of the drug, packaging, scales, large amounts of cash, or communications indicating drug sales.

The penalties for possession with intent to distribute vary depending on the type and amount of the drug. Generally, it is classified as a felony, with hefty fines and long prison sentences.

Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking is the most serious drug offense in the state. It involves the sale, transportation, manufacturing, or distribution of large amounts of controlled substances. The amount that classifies as trafficking is defined by the type of drug:

  • Possession of 10 pounds or more of marijuana.
  • Possession of 28 or more grams of cocaine.
  • Possession of 4 or more grams of heroin or opium.
  • Possession of 28 or more grams of methamphetamine.

Trafficking convictions carry mandatory minimum sentences ranging from 25 months to over 20 years in prison, depending on the amount and type of drug involved. Fines can also be very steep.

Making Controlled Substances

Manufacturing controlled substances is a serious crime that involves producing illegal drugs. This can include growing marijuana plants or operating a meth lab. Manufacturing charges are often accompanied by other charges, such as possession with intent to distribute or trafficking.

Possessing Drug Paraphernalia

Drug paraphernalia refers to equipment or material used to produce or distribute illegal drugs. Common examples include pipes, bongs, syringes, scales, or packaging. Possession of drug paraphernalia is commonly charged with other drug offenses. These offenses can carry penalties of jail time and fines.

Hiring Appropriate Legal Representation

Facing drug charges can be overwhelming. The consequences of a conviction can be steep. These penalties can impact your freedom, finances, and future opportunities. Having the proper representation is crucial in helping to secure your freedom and fight for your rights. A drug crime attorney can help you with:

  • Legal counsel. An attorney understands the complexities of drug laws and can navigate the legal system effectively.
  • Defense strategy. An attorney can develop a tailor-made defense strategy based on the specific details of your case, potentially leading to reduced charges or a dismissal of all your charges.
  • Negotiation. Lawyers can negotiate with prosecutors regarding plea deals, which can reduce the severity of your penalties.
  • Protecting your rights. An attorney ensures that your rights are protected throughout the legal process.


Q: What Are Drug Charges in North Carolina?

A: Drug charges in the state include a number of unlawful drug offenses that involve controlled substances. Some of these charges include drug possession, drug trafficking, drug manufacturing, drug possession with the intent to sell or distribute, and possessing drug paraphernalia. This can also include prescription fraud, where someone obtains prescription medication through dishonest means.

Q: What Is the Most Common Drug Offense?

A: The most common drug offense is drug possession. This is typically a charge that results in the possession of a small amount of a drug. Drug possession also referred to as simple possession, is not as serious of an offense as drug trafficking or possession with the intent to distribute.

Q: What Type of Crimes Are Associated With Drugs?

A: Drug-related crimes vary, and they often go beyond just simple possession. For instance, drug possession can be associated with the intent to distribute. Trafficking, selling, transporting, or distributing is associated with drugs. Sometimes, other crimes, such as theft, burglary, and assault, can be associated with drugs, depending on the circumstances.

Q: What Penalties Can I Face if Convicted of a Drug Crime?

A: If you are convicted of a drug crime in North Carolina, there are a number of penalties that you can face, depending on the crime and charges being brought against you. Some of these penalties include hefty fines, extensive jail or prison time, a felony or misdemeanor on your record, probation, community service, and involvement in drug treatment programs.

Contact Edwards Law, PLLC, Today

Drug crimes encompass a wide range of offenses, from possession to drug trafficking and manufacturing. The penalties for these crimes can be severe, including steep fines and long jail and prison sentences. If you are facing drug charges, legal representation can help protect your rights and secure the greatest possible outcome for your case.

Understanding the types of drug crimes and their penalties can help you make appropriate decisions. Contact Edwards Law, PLLC, for more information on how to get started.