New Drug Trafficking Penalties in Effect in North Carolina

Drug-1024x1024New Drug Trafficking Penalties in Effect in North Carolina

Drug charges are serious, and penalties may be severe if you are found guilty. The law makes some drug crimes more dangerous, and therefore, they come with stronger penalties. Drug possession is generally a much less severe crime than possession with intent to sell or distribute. New changes to the law recently went into effect that allow for more stringent penalties for drug trafficking convictions in North Carolina.


Changes to Drug Trafficking Penalties

North Carolina legislators have put new penalties in place for some drug trafficking offenses. Senate Bill 189 is called “An Act to Increase the Fine Imposed on Persons Convicted of Trafficking in Heroin, Fentanyl, or Carfentanil.” The legislation was in response to an increase in the number of fentanyl deaths over the last several years. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released data that indicated a spike in calls for service for overdoses and overdose deaths. The bill was ratified and went into effect in December of 2023.


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Increased Fine for Conviction of Some Drug Trafficking Crimes

The law has now been amended to change the penalties for the conviction of some drug trafficking crimes. A person who is in possession of more than 4 grams but less than 14 grams of an opioid will be charged with a Class F felony and is subject to 70 to 93 years in prison if found guilty. The new law increases the fine associated with the offense. The old fine was up to $50,000, while the new fine is increased to a maximum of $500,000 when the opioid is fentanyl or heroin.



Death By Distribution Changes

Death by distribution is a crime that applies to someone who supplied illegal drugs to someone who died as a result. It is now a first-degree murder charge when the person who supplied drugs was related to or lived with the deceased. It also applies to someone who had a child with the other party. The law specifically states, “there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the murder is a willful, deliberate, and intentional killing.” The new act also includes performing an autopsy if the medical examiner feels it is in the best interest of the public.


Defending Drug Charges

The penalties for drug-related convictions are now more severe than ever before. If you are charged with a drug crime, it is essential to present a strong defense to the charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney will review the details of your case and help determine the best way to defend the charges. In some instances, the police may have conducted an illegal search. If that occurred, the evidence might need to be excluded from the case. There may be other ways to reduce or eliminate some or all of the charges against you in a drug-related case. You want to protect your rights and try to avoid the worst possible outcome.


To learn more about defending drug charges, call us today at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 to schedule a consultation.





The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may face include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights and stand at the ready to fight in defense of those facing criminal charges.



Senate Bill 189 / SL 2023-123 (2023-2024 Session) – North Carolina General Assembly (

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