North Carolina has some of the most tough drug laws in the country. Anyone who is facing a drug charge in the state could be looking at fines, a misdemeanor or felony conviction and serious time spent in prison. The difference in charges and punishments depends on the type of drug involved, the amount of the drug and what the state alleges you were doing with the drugs. However, what the accused was doing with the drug matters much less than how much of the drug was present.

Marijuana charges

For marijuana possession charges, you face a possible misdemeanor conviction and fines for amounts under 0.5 ounces. For amounts up to 10 pounds, a charge means possible felony conviction, fines and jail time.

For anyone who is accused of selling, manufacturing, delivering, transporting or just possessing between 10 to 50 pounds of marijuana, the charge is drug trafficking. This is a felony charge and potential jail time and fines escalate as the amount of marijuana involved increases.

Heroin charges

Heroin is considered a Schedule 1 drug, so the potential penalties are even harsher. Anyone accused of possessing less than 4 grams of heroin faces a felony charge. Possession of 4 to 14 grams of heroin is considered drug trafficking. A person accused of manufacturing, transporting, delivering or selling heroin will also be charged with drug trafficking. Severity of charges range with the amount of heroin involved, but a conviction could mean over 20 years in prison.

Drug trafficking punishments

With drug trafficking charges, there are some that carry a mandatory minimum sentence, if you are found guilty. That means the judge cannot give you a shorter sentence if convicted. You could face a mandatory fine of $5,000 to $500,000 and a mandatory prison term of 25 to over 280 months. Two-hundred and eighty months is over 23 years in jail.

In North Carolina, drug trafficking cases also can be tried at the federal level. It is even possible for a person facing a drug trafficking charge to start out in state court and have his or her case moved to federal court. According to the United States Sentencing Commission, 91 percent of people facing federal marijuana trafficking charges received prison time.

People can be charged with drug trafficking in North Carolina, even if they had no intent to sell or deliver the drugs. Alleged possession of drugs over a certain amount means a possible drug trafficking conviction and serious penalties, including jail time and fines.