Federal laws generally prohibit the possession, sale and distribution of controlled substances. North Carolina laws also do so. However, the type of penalties that you may face if convicted of a drug crime may depend on whether it is a state or federal charge.

Other factors may play a role in any sentence that you receive

Generally speaking, the type of drug that you were convicted of selling or using will determine the severity of any sentence handed down by a judge. Furthermore, the type of penalties that you may face may also depend on how much of a controlled substance you tried to use or sell. Finally, your criminal history may play a role when determining the types of penalties that you could face in your current case.

Controlled substances are broken down into five different levels

Substances listed as Schedule I or Schedule II drugs are generally considered to have a high potential for abuse. In most cases, controlled substances at these levels have no accepted medical application in the United States. Schedule III drugs have a limited potential for physical dependency but are generally considered to have legitimate medical uses. A Schedule IV drug is legal to possess or use as long as you have a prescription. As a general rule, Schedule V drugs are the least likely to cause physical dependency among those who use them.

Examples of Schedule III or IV drugs

If you use Ambien, Xanax or Valium, you are taking medications that are classified as Schedule IV drugs. If you take medications that have testosterone or codeine in them, you are typically using substances that are classified as Schedule III drugs.

You may spend time in prison, pay a fine or be required to do community service if convicted on a drug charge. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help you get a charge reduced or dismissed by asserting that you unknowingly consumed or purchased a controlled substance.