Possession of a Controlled Substance
The North Carolina Controlled Substances Act makes it illegal to even simply possess certain substances. Drug possession can lead to time in jail, heavy fines and a lifetime of consequences due to a narcotics-related conviction. However, the crime is not always as cut-and-dry as whether or not a person had drugs on them. Often, constitutional issues exist that could affect a case outcome. The behavior of the officers that arrest a defendant plays an important evidentiary role in these cases. The Police may not have used a warrant. Evidence could have been obtained illegally.
Drug Possession Lawyer
If you face charges for possession of a controlled substance in a Wake County court, a dedicated Raleigh drug possession lawyer can help you explore all available options including a decision to fight the charges, negotiate a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor, or even a complete dismissal after the completion of a drug diversion program That includes fighting the charges to seeking a diversion program, like drug court. At the Coolidge Law Firm, we are experienced courtroom attorneys with an in-depth familiarity with local courts.
Contact us at (919) 239-8448 to schedule a free consultation. We represent clients throughout Wake County and the surrounding areas, including Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Morrisville, Zebulon, and Garner. Our clients include people from all walks of life including many local area college students from North Carolina State University (NCSU), Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech), Meredith College, William Peace University, Shaw University, Duke University, and UNC – Chapel Hill.
Information on Drug Possession Charges
- Defining Possession Charges
- Penalties and Other Consequences of Conviction for Possessing Narcotics
- Constitutional Issues in Possession Cases
North Carolina General Statutes § 90-95(a)(3) makes it illegal to possess a controlled substance unless legally authorized. Controlled substances include any of the drugs prohibited in the law, including prescription drugs. Possession of such prescription drugs without being prescribed to have such drugs by a licensed physician can lead to criminal charges.
Possession may be actual or constructive. Actual possession occurs when the drugs in question are found on your person, you are aware of its presence and you have the power and intent to control its’ disposition and/or use. Did you have the drugs in your pocket, in your hands or somewhere on your body. “Constructive possession” means you had control of the drugs even though the drugs were not on your person. Charges stemming from construction possession often occur where police find drugs in your car, house, or dorm room.
Convictions for the possession of controlled substances can lead to a variety of punishments including jail time, probation, and fines. Your punishment could include some or all of these consequences depending on your prior criminal history, negotiations with the prosecutor, and the schedule that the drug you possessed falls under North Carolina law. The law assigns these drugs to various schedules based upon their chemical makeup. Six schedules exist under North Carolina law which each having a different severity of punishment. The schedules are:
- Schedule I: Heroin, MDMA (Ecstasy), LSD (acid)
Possession of these substances is a Class I felony, punishable by three to 13 months in jail, depending on the number of prior convictions and if there are mitigating or aggravating factors.
- Schedule II: Cocaine, PCP, Codeine, Morphine, Vicodin
- Schedule III: Anabolic Steroids, Ketamine
- Schedule IV: Valium, Ambien, Xanax
Possession of a Schedule II, III or IV substance is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by one to 120 days in jail, depending on the number of prior convictions. However, if the quantity exceeds a certain number of tablets, or dosage units, possession of these substances will be punished as a Class I felony.
- Schedule V: Cough medication containing a certain amount of codeine
Possession of these drugs is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by one to 60 days in jail, depending on prior conviction.
- Schedule VI: Marijuana
Marijuana possession for less than a half ounce a Class 3 misdemeanor, and probation must be given. If the quantity exceeds one-half ounce but less than one and one-half ounces, then the violation shall be punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor. If greater than one and one-half ounces, the violation shall be punished as a Class I felony.
Options exist for people charged with drug possession charges. Your attorney can help you decide which option would be best given your circumstances. Many of these programs, such as the Drug Diversion Program, provide an opportunity for you to complete a drug education program and community service in exchange for a complete dismissal of your charges.
If a diversion program is not available for you, your attorney can discuss negotiating a plea agreement with the prosecutor or aggressively defending you at trial.
As with any criminal charge, in cases involving drug possession charges, prosecutors must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt through the admission of legally obtained and constitutionally relevant evidence. Your lawyer can challenge the admission of any evidence that the police obtained in violation of your constitutional rights.
You have a constitutional protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. If Raleigh police or other law enforcement seek to search a place where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, including your car, trunk, glove compartment or home, they must have probable cause. In most circumstances, this will require that they obtain a search warrant.
Many possession arrests result from simple traffic stops. To pull a person over, police must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed, defined as articulable facts suggesting criminal activity. Wake County Sheriff’s deputies cannot pull you over on a hunch, or because your car is one popular among drug dealers.
If the prosecution obtained any evidence from an illegal search or seizure, your attorney can file a motion to suppress this evidence, which if granted by the Judge means that the suppressed evidence cannot be admitted at any trial. Without critical evidence, prosecutors may have no choice but to drop the charges.
Speak to a Drugs Possession Attorney Today
Possession charges are a serious matter. If you have been accused of illegally possessing a controlled substance in Wake County, your first step should be immediately contacting a skilled drug possession lawyer. Our experienced criminal drug defense attorneys will develop a strategy that will make the prosecutors do their job and prove their case before ever negotiating a plea bargain. Contact us today at (919) 239-8448 or fill out the contact form below for a free consultation.