Drug trafficking involves either the transport of controlled substances or sale to others. It is a more serious offense than possessing drugs for one’s personal use, and the penalties are often much harsher.
North Carolina law generally requires judges to follow mandatory sentencing rules for drug trafficking. However, a recently enacted state law called the First Step Act allows a judge to depart from the rules in certain situations. The University of North Carolina describes the conditions under which the First Step Act can apply.
Circumstances of the case
The circumstances of the case affect when the First Step Act can apply to a case of alleged drug trafficking. For example, the person charged must accept responsibility for the conduct and cannot have used a dangerous weapon, such as a firearm, or any other form of violence during the commission of the alleged act.
The person charged with drug trafficking cannot have any prior felony convictions for the First Step Act to apply. This includes prior drug charges but could involve any felony. The First Step Act does not apply if there is evidence of the individual previously engaging in the delivery, manufacture, sale or transport of controlled substances or using violence in the commission of a criminal offense.
Amount of controlled substance
Drug trafficking charges pertain to controlled substances in certain amounts. The amounts required vary according to the type of drug. For the First Step Act to apply, the amount of the controlled substance in the individual’s possession must be within the lowest category for trafficking.
If the court determines that the First Step Act applies, the individual may receive post-conviction relief or limits on sentencing.