Possessing any amount of cocaine is a felony offense in North Carolina. This is based on its classification as a Schedule II substance. In contrast, marijuana is classified as a Schedule VI substance; the scheduling of illicit substances is determined by the potential level of abuse known about each one.
Simple Possession of Cocaine in North Carolina
Possession of small amounts of cocaine is classified as a Class I felony; this is the least severe felony class in North Carolina. The penalty for a first offense of cocaine possession is 6 months to one year in prison, but it is rare for a first offender to receive jail time.
Possession With Intent to Sell or Deliver Cocaine in North Carolina
Certain items found in close proximity to cocaine may elevate a charge of simple possession to possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine (PWISD). These items include scales, empty sandwich bags, cocaine found in multiple bags, and large sums of cash. PWISD Cocaine is a Class H felony in North Carolina and carries a possible penalty of 10 months in jail for a first offender, or up to 30 months for suspects with past criminal records. There are other ways that someone could be charged with PWISD Cocaine that do not involve finding these items. In some cases, the police either use surveillance or confidential informants to establish that someone is selling or delivering cocaine.
Sale or Distribution of Cocaine in North Carolina
Punishments increase further for the sale or distribution of cocaine, which is categorized as a Class G felony. These penalties may include fines and up to 31 months in prison. If the amount of cocaine is suspected to be over 28 grams, North Carolina law considers that activity to be trafficking. Trafficking charges substantially increase the possible penalties. Trafficking 28-200 grams of cocaine is considered a Class G felony, but is sentenced differently that other non-trafficking offenses, exposing someone to 70 months in prison. Trafficking involving 200-400 grams of cocaine is classified as a Class F felony and exposes someone to 93 months in prison. In extreme cases where the trafficking amount is more than 400 grams of cocaine, the classification is a Class D felony exposing someone to 175 to 219 months in prison.
Defending Cocaine Charges in Raleigh and Wake County
Trying cases where the possible punishments are so severe is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it may be the only way that someone facing a cocaine charge can be found not guilty. One the other hand, if that person is found guilty, they will probable be sentenced harshly. Fortunately, the District Attorney will most likely offer something less severe than what the law would allow. In most cases involving a first offense of possession of cocaine, a person may qualify for a program that eventually could see their charge dismissed. In occasions where someone does not qualify for a deferral program, there is a strong chance that the prosecutor offers them to plead to a misdemeanor. Every case is different, and a good defense attorney can insure that an accused client will get the best outcome without exposing them to the harshest punishments.
Steven Saad is a Raleigh and Wake County criminal defense attorney with years of legal experience as both a defender of the accused and a former Wake County prosecutor. He is passionate about representing the people of his community that are accused of crimes and have unfortunately found themselves in our criminal system. Obtaining the best possible results in his clients’ cases is Steven’s only motivation.
During his years as a Wake County District Attorney, Steven prosecuted tens of thousands of criminal cases, giving him unparalleled insight into the criminal court process in Wake County. He thrives on the fact that a case can be won or lost in the smallest details, making preparation and communication with clients throughout a case critical.
Don’t waste an opportunity to discuss your case with an experienced and effective defense attorney and former Wake County prosecutor. Contact us today.