Like other states, North Carolina imposes harsh criminal penalties for the misuse of prescription drugs.
When it comes to prescription opioids, the important point to remember is that they are treated like illegal street drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
In other words, if a person does not have a valid prescription for his or her pills, then it makes no difference that the pills are commonly prescribed and then dispensed at pharmacies. This is true even if, for example, a person borrowed a friend or family member’s medicine.
Penalties under state law depend on the type and amount of the drug involved. Also, state law imposes steeper penalties for trafficking in the drug as opposed to simply possessing the drug.
Trafficking does include what one might think of as drug dealing for money. However, it can also include swapping pills with a friend or even just giving them to someone else.
For many narcotics, including Morphine and Codeine, a person faces up to 2 years in prison, a $2,000 fine, and a misdemeanor conviction. In most cases, possession over 100 pills is a felony that could land a person in prison for 5 years. For Hydromorphone, more than 4 pills will result in a felony conviction and up to 5 years in prison.
Trafficking of these types of pills in any amount is a felony that can result in a 10-year prison term.
Possession of barbiturates and medicine with some codeine in it, including prescription strength Tylenol, have the same penalties for possession but only carry a 5-year term for trafficking.
There are some prescription pills and medicines with limited potency, including certain types of cough syrup, which carry lesser penalties, that is, up to 6 months in prison and a misdemeanor conviction. Trafficking these drugs can result in a 5-year jail sentence.
The area around Wilmington and Myrtle Beach is usually a popular place for people to come to relax and have fun. It is also well-known as a hotspot for prescription drug abuse, meaning that police and prosecutor well attuned to the issue.
Tourists, especially young people with a promising future, have a lot to lose if they get convicted of prescription drug crimes.
In addition to the possible penalties, a conviction for a drug crime can also severely damage someone’s personal reputation and professional opportunities.
In some cases, a drug conviction can effectively bar a person from pursuing his or her chosen career even moving forward with higher education.
Anyone accused of any crime related to prescription drugs should carefully evaluate his or her legal options.