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What is a PWISD Charge in NC?

In North Carolina, it is illegal to make, sell, deliver, or possess a controlled substance. If you possess a substantial amount of a substance or look like you’re selling it, you can receive a charge of  “Possession with Intent to Sell or Deliver” (PWISD). A PWISD charge is more serious than a possession charge. Let’s look at what a PWISD charge is in NC and what this charge can mean for you.

PWISD Charge in NC

NC classifies drugs according to a schedule. Schedule 1 drugs are not medically helpful and have serious addiction potential. They are always illegal to possess and include:

  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy
  • GHB
  • Methaqualone
  • Peyote
  • Opiates
  • (and others)

A PWISD charge for one of these substances could mean a prison sentence of up to 2 years, even for a first-time offender. You could face felony charges with almost four years in prison if you possess more than 4 grams of heroin, and there is evidence that you sold it also. 

Check out NC Controlled Substances Chart to see the possible jail time for PWISD convictions for scheduled drugs. 

Marijuana PWISD Charges

With a lower scheduled drug like marijuana, the stakes are not quite as high. Marijuana is a schedule VI substance. PWISD conviction for marijuana is a class I felony, the lowest class of felony under North Carolina law. You could spend up to 2 years in prison, but there is also a possibility that you won’t serve any time with a conviction for PWISD marijuana. 

With a previous criminal history, you may face stricter felony consequences. The type of substance, the amount, and the arrest circumstances determine the kind of felony. Even if you only possess the substance for “personal use,” you may face PWISD charges based on other items present at the time of the arrest.

If convicted of marijuana PWISD, you can still get a criminal record even if you do not spend time in prison. A criminal record can prevent you from obtaining a good job, an apartment, or government benefits, and wreak havoc on relationships in your life with neighbors or possible friends. 

PWISD is NOT Trafficking Drugs

A heroin PWISD charge is for less than 4 grams. If you possess more than 4 grams, you are looking at a trafficking charge instead. Trafficking drugs is a much more severely punished offense. Possessing 4-14 grams of heroin makes you guilty of trafficking drugs and could land you in prison for 5-8 years. If you possess more than 28 grams, you could serve 23 years in prison.

Trafficking marijuana does not carry quite as stiff penalties as trafficking heroin but is still a felony. Sale or delivery of 10-50 lbs marijuana is a Class H felony punishable by a minimum of 2+ years imprisonment and a fine of at least $5,000. Sale or delivery of 50-2,000 lbs pounds is a Class G felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison with a fine of $25,000. (2)

Don’t Incriminate Yourself

Law enforcement officers often engage in tactics that may be unconstitutional. As someone charged with PWISD in NC, you still have rights as a citizen. You have the right to:

  • Not give self-incriminating evidence against yourself.
  • Be informed of the charges against you. 
  • Refuse to speak about what happened without an attorney present.
  • The right to be free from searches and seizures except when:
    • There is a warrant that names you or
    • Law enforcement has a limited exception to the warrant requirement 

What Can A Criminal Defense Attorney Do?

A good attorney investigates the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Your attorney should analyze the case from the moment officers began interacting with you to determine if there is a legal basis for a motion to suppress and dismiss the charges. They are representative of your voice and present your truth in a fair light throughout the case. 

An experienced criminal defense attorney also examines the evidence presented by the prosecution meant to illustrate “intent.” It can be challenging for prosecutors to prove intent to sell or distribute. Often, a knowledgeable attorney works with the prosecution to dismiss or reduce charges when there is no proof of PWISD. When a prosecutor won’t dismiss or reduce the charges, then your attorney must be ready to go to battle for you at trial. 

If you have drugs in your possession for personal use, the prosecutor may still pursue a PWISD charge based on perceived paraphernalia such as containers or a “staging area.” Often, these allegations have no proof to back them up and are not true beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors don’t have a case for PWISD without evidence of the charges. 

We Can Help

At Scharff Law, our experienced criminal law team works to uncover the facts in your case. We investigate unlawful search and seizures and consider whether the prosecutor may agree to reduce or dismiss a PWISD charge for lack of evidence. When they don’t, we discuss all of your options with you about how to mitigate these charges or challenge them at trial in front of a jury. We understand the fear and anxiety of facing charges and stand up for your rights while giving you the best possible representation under the law. Contact us today and find out how we can help you. 

  1. https://norml.org/laws/north-carolina-penalties-2/