Whether you have been charged with simple marijuana possession or are facing a felony for drug trafficking, our attorneys have seen it all. At Marcilliat & Mills PLLC, our law enforcement background gives us unique insight into how prosecutors think and how to craft your defense.

When you work with our Wilmington drug crimes lawyers, we will not treat you like a criminal on the run from the law. We will treat you like a real person with a serious problem that needs to be solved. By working together, we can find the solution.

Criminal charges can be beaten. We can help you.

Wilmington Drug Crimes Defense

If you have never interacted with the legal system before, the array of different drug charges can be dizzying. In North Carolina, some of the offenses you may be charged with include:

You’ll notice that drug charges fall into two basic categories: drugs for your own personal use, often a result of addiction or substance abuse, and drugs for sale and distribution to others. While the latter category is typically more severe, almost any of these charges can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the exact circumstances of your case.

Can Felony Charges Be Reduced To Misdemeanors?

Yes. With decades of experience, our law firm has great success negotiating charges down from felonies to less serious offenses. This can make the difference between serving jail time and not, as well as avoiding significant fines. Our Wilmington drug crimes attorneys know how law enforcement and prosecutors pursue these cases, and we can counter their strategies.

How Can Attorneys Help During The Bail Process?

Judges can sometimes set incredibly high bail amounts and impose other restrictions if they think you will not show up for your courtroom appearances. Sometimes this can even include surrendering your driver’s license. We will do our best to present evidence on your behalf and have these restrictions relaxed or even eliminated. Maintaining a strong attorney-client relationship will allow us to effectively tailor the strongest arguments on your behalf.

How To Choose A Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer In Wilmington, North Carolina

Having a strong legal defense is essential to beating a drug charge, whether it’s possession, trafficking or another offense. When you are facing a district attorney in court, you want to be sure that your own legal counsel is as solid as possible. Here are some strategies you can use for choosing an effective drug crime attorney.

What Makes A Good Criminal Defense Attorney?

There is no such thing as a single “best” lawyer. However, some attorneys are better than others, particularly when it comes to finding the right fit for your situation.

Outstanding attorneys tend to share some things in common. Pay attention to these qualities when doing your search:

  • Communication: Your lawyer will be in touch with a lot of people on your behalf: the county sheriff’s office (or other law enforcement agencies), prosecuting attorneys, and possibly a grand jury. Find someone whose communication style is clear, prompt, and commands the respect of everyone involved.
  • Compassion: The best lawyers are in the profession because they truly want to help people. Compassion and empathy are particularly important in criminal defense, when someone’s life, reputation, and freedom may be at stake.
  • Creativity: No case is the same. Find someone who’s willing to think outside the box to address your particular situation.
  • Tenacity: Good lawyers do not give up; they pursue every avenue available to fight for your freedom.

By investing the time and energy to find a truly excellent attorney, you will maximize your chances at a favorable outcome.

What Makes A Bad Defense Attorney?

A distracted, inept attorney could destroy your chances for a favorable outcome. Be on the lookout for lawyers who:

  • Are too busy to reply to your calls or emails
  • Have a history of serious ethics violations
  • Do not have the respect of their peers
  • Charge too little (as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”)
  • Seem disengaged or disinterested in your case

A good lawyer will do their best regardless of your existing criminal records or arrest records. A bad lawyer won’t. It pays to know the difference.

How To Find The Right Wilmington Drug Crimes Attorney

To find the best attorney you can, do your homework. Read online reviews. Interview the attorney in person, and don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. Ask about the statute that applies to your crime. Ask about how they deal with the local county sheriff’s office or other law enforcement agencies. Ask for references and follow up with them. The more work you put in, the better sense you will have of how this person will represent you.

Understanding The Legal Process For Drug Crimes In North Carolina

When you are accused of a drug crime, you will be arrested and advised of the charges against you. However, what happens after that depends on whether you are facing a misdemeanor or a felony.

For a misdemeanor charge, the process is fairly straightforward. You make your first courtroom appearance with your attorney, and then afterward we will negotiate on your behalf to get the charges reduced or dropped, which can take several months. If no favorable deal is forthcoming, we can go to trial.

For felonies, the potential penalties are far more serious, so the process is more drawn out and takes place across multiple courtrooms:

Lower court

Prosecutors like to avoid trials if possible, so a large part of the process happens before a trial would even occur. After your first courtroom appearance in which you hear the charges against you, we enter the discovery phase and gather evidence, interview witnesses and assess all the evidence surrounding your case. Then we negotiate with the prosecutors, which can proceed to a probable cause hearing in which we formally cross-examine witnesses and test the strength of the prosecution’s evidence. We then proceed to a grand jury hearing. If the grand jury finds in favor of the prosecution, they issue an indictment.

Higher courts

Your case now transitions to a different courtroom. After pleading not guilty during your arraignment hearing, we gather even more evidence and attempt to formally suppress anything that could damage your case. Additional negotiations and court motions will take place up to the trial, and we may be able to strike last-minute plea bargains at this point. If not, the trial commences with a full jury (or judge, in rare cases).

Our attorneys will fight for you for as long as necessary. Even after a conviction, we will continue advocating for the lowest possible sentence.

What Are The Penalties For Drug Crimes In North Carolina?

Law enforcement officials take drug crimes very seriously. The prosecution can leverage a wide variety of drug charges, but the most common charges involve possession of a controlled substance, such as marijuana, or the sale and distribution of controlled substances.

Penalties: Drug Possession

If you have smaller amounts of a controlled substance for personal use, the penalties tend to be less severe. North Carolina uses a so-called “schedule,” which classifies drugs by potency and addictive potential:

  • Schedule I – Examples: LSD and heroin.
  • Schedule II – Examples: meth, cocaine, opiates, and methadone.
  • Schedule III – Examples: steroids, ketamine, depressants.
  • Schedule IV – Examples: Valium, Xanax, and other addictive, medically prescribed substances.
  • Schedule V – Examples: prescription medications like codeine.
  • Schedule VI – Examples: marijuana.

The severity of the charge – and harshness of the penalties – depends on the type and quantity of controlled substance.

Penalties: Drug Trafficking

If you get caught with large amounts of a particular substance, you might get charged with drug trafficking instead, since the assumption is that you intend to sell or distribute it. This is a more serious charge to have on your criminal record and is automatically treated as a felony.

Drug trafficking penalties vary by substance and amount, but potential jail time can range from 25 to 93 months or more. In addition, trafficking convictions for different drugs must be served consecutively, so incarceration time can add up quickly. Many trafficking charges are felony offenses that carry mandatory minimum prison terms.

Court-Appointed Versus Private Attorneys In Drug Crimes Defense

What kind of legal representation you choose to have in the courtroom can mean the difference between a conviction and walk free, so it pays to be informed. In general, you have three options: using a court-appointed lawyer (if you qualify), hiring a private lawyer, or acting as your own counsel.

Using A Public Defender

Public defenders are available to people who otherwise cannot afford to hire their own lawyers. These public attorneys have the same basic qualifications and licensure as private attorneys. They appear in court often, frequently handling as many as 100 criminal cases simultaneously. They have intimate knowledge of each judge’s quirks and can realistically assess your chances, given their huge volume of experience.

However, that volume is also their downfall. Because public defenders are trying to keep so many cases straight at the same time, the amount of attention and dedication they can devote to your particular case is usually small. They also lack ready access to outside resources that private attorneys have, such as expert witnesses and third-party investigators.

Using A Wilmington Drug Charges Attorney Of Your Choosing

Bringing a private Wilmington drug crimes attorney on board in is the most common choice, and with good reason. Private attorneys can pick and choose their cases, which means that they will have more time and attention to devote to your cause. They will typically be more responsive, less overwhelmed, and generally, be able to digest the full details of your situation in a way that public defenders simply don’t have time to do.

In addition, they can also dig deeper into your case by using expert witnesses, private research labs, and third-party investigators. By leveraging all these resources, a private attorney does not have to rely solely on the evidence gathered by law enforcement and the prosecution, which can sometimes make the difference between going to jail and walking free.

Representing Yourself In Court

Everyone has a right to represent themselves in court if they so choose. However, doing so in a criminal trial is almost always disastrous. The government will have an attorney on its side. Without proper legal training, you will be unable to anticipate the strategy they are using or know when you might be walking into a trap. In addition, you may mistakenly invalidate the evidence that could have cleared you, leaving you vulnerable to conviction for a crime you did not commit.

Never toy with your freedom in a drug case. You could live the consequences for the rest of your life.

Let Our Wilmington Drug Crimes Lawyer Defend Your Freedom

Whatever drug charge you are facing, from a minor misdemeanor to a serious felony, you should always mount the strongest defense you possibly can, as early as you possibly can. Our Wilmington drug charges attorneys care about your freedom and will defend it alongside you. Together, we will build a strong case and seek the dismissal or reduction of every charge that’s coming your way.

For a free initial consultation, please get in touch with our legal team. You can reach our Wilmington office through our online form or by phone: 919-838-6643. We handle state and federal drug charges for clients across North Carolina.