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Photo of Joshua Nielsen
Photo of Joshua Nielsen

Proving addiction may help reduce drug trafficking penalties

On Behalf of | Dec 23, 2020 | drug trafficking

North Carolina’s prosecutors may aggressively charge an individual with multiple drug-related offenses. The allegations may include charges such as unlawful distribution and trafficking. The court, however, may decide that there is not enough evidence to sentence a defendant on every charge.

The First Step Act, which went into effect during 2020, permits the Tar Heel State’s judges to deviate from mandatory minimum sentencing requirements. As noted by U.S. News and World Report, an addicted first-time nonviolent offender may request a less severe sentence for a drug-trafficking conviction.

Substance abuse treatment programs may help reduce repeat offenses

Studies revealed that 85% of incarcerated individuals suffer from addiction. Many of them committed an offense because of their need to use illegal substances. As noted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, receiving treatment may help an offender to avoid recidivism and relapse when released.

When a charged individual admits to engaging in unlawful drug-related activity to support an addiction, a judge may order a defendant to serve less time incarcerated. He or she may also need to commit to a drug treatment program while in prison or while serving an alternative sentence such as home confinement.

An addiction-based defense may counter a charge of intent to distribute

Unlawful distribution or trafficking charges may require a prosecutor to prove that an individual intended to sell an illegal or controlled substance. When a defendant has a serious addiction, however, he or she may carry a large amount of drugs intended for personal use only.

To prove distribution or trafficking, a prosecutor must show the individual had an amount that appears larger than what one individual may reasonably use. Each individual has his or her own tolerance level, and countering a prosecutor’s allegations of trafficking may require proof of a defendant’s regular and addictive use of a substance.