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What You Need to Know About Meth and Criminal Charges

How long does methamphetamine stay in your system? What happens if law enforcement catches you with meth? In North Carolina, 11,618 individuals faced conviction for meth possession in 2019. With numbers this high, you may want to understand how law enforcement looks at meth use. Because using meth is illegal without a prescription, you can face meth possession charges. Let’s look at how long methamphetamine stays in your body and what can happen if you face charges for a crime related to methamphetamine possession.

What is Methamphetamine?

Speed, crank, crystal, chalk, or ice are popular names for the white, odorless, crystalline powder called meth. Although it is closely chemically related, it is not the same as MDMA (also called ecstasy, molly, or x). Their stimulant amphetamine properties may feel similar to someone taking them to feel high. However, MDMA (ecstasy) is usually ingested orally, while meth can be smoked, snorted, injected, or swallowed.

The only legal way to take meth is through a prescription for Desoxyn. If you have a medical prescription for Desoxyn, you can legally take your medication as prescribed. However, you can still face charges for driving while impaired while on prescription medications taken as prescribed. It’s crucial to understand how your body handles your medication before getting behind the wheel of a car.

If you’re driving erratically or endangering others while on meth, prescription or not, you can receive a DWI which can stay on your record permanently in NC, with no chance for expungement. A DWI gives you a lasting criminal record that can reduce your chances of a good job, adequate housing, and can even affect your social life.

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Depending on how much and how often you use meth, law enforcement such as probation officers can use tests that find it in your system. The different tests available to test for meth use detect meth in your body for various lengths of time. A hair test may detect meth up to 3 months after use, while a blood test, only 3 days.

Check out how long someone may detect meth in your system:

  • Blood testing: 1-3 days
  • Saliva: 1-4 days
  • Urine: 1-4 days (unless you use meth regularly. In that case, up to a week)
  • Hair: As long as 90 days or 3 months after use

If your employer tests for meth, this information can help you avoid losing your job. In NC, some county law enforcement agencies do more or different tests than others.

What Happens If I Face Meth Possession Charges?

According to NC Statute 90-95, penalties and sanctions for various drug charges depend on each drug’s classification.

Meth possession is considered a felony in North Carolina. Simple possession of methamphetamine is a Class I felony. You can face 6 months to one year in prison as a first-time offender.

Distributing methamphetamine is more serious. North Carolina names this offense as a class H felony that can bring 10 to 39 months in prison.

If law enforcement finds you distributing 28 grams or more of meth, you can face charges of drug trafficking. Trafficking charges increase the minimum penalties substantially. You can face substantial prison sentences for trafficking meth at these amounts:

  • 28-200 grams: Class F felony exposing you to 10 to 41 months in prison and fines.
  • 200-400 grams: Class E felony exposing you to up to 15 to 63 months in prison and fines.
  • Manufacturing meth (more than 400 grams): Class C felony with a minimum of 44 to 182 months in prison and fines.

The law in NC considers some drugs more dangerous than others. Because meth is higher on the drug schedule in NC, the penalties are harsher and more severe than a lower scheduled drug like marijuana.

How Can I Defend Against Meth Charges?

There are ways for a criminal defense attorney who focuses on drug charges to help you handle your case. An experienced attorney can often help a first-time offender get a dismissal or reduction of a meth possession charge. You may need to take drug assessments and educational programs, but getting a dismissal means no criminal record.

If you’re facing more severe charges than possession, such as distribution and trafficking, a criminal defense attorney is absolutely critical to handle your situation. The more severe the charge, the harder it will be to get a reduction in your charges. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney can often negotiate with the DA’s office for a reduction in charges.

Unfortunately, trafficking charges often carry mandatory minimum sentences for substantial amounts of incarceration. Sometimes this mandatory minimum can be averted by giving ‘substantial assistance’ to the government about your case. 

Sometimes it is possible to take your charges into the courtroom to fight against rights violations by law enforcement. If law enforcement violates your constitutional rights, your attorney may want to consider filing various pre-trial motions to work on getting the case dismissed or parts of the evidence suppressed.

We Can Help

If you’re facing charges for meth possession, distribution, or trafficking, call the Scharff Law Firm for a free consultation today. We will review your case and help you understand how best to protect yourself moving forward. Don’t try to handle this alone; let us put our experience to work for you.

Call us today or fill out the form on our website for a free consultation. 


  1. How Long Does Methamphetamine (Meth) Stay in Your System? 
  2. GS 90-95(h) 
  3. A direct comparison of the behavioral and physiological effects of methamphetamine and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) in humans 
  5. *** Effective for Offenses Committed on or after 10/1/13 *** 
  6. North Carolina Drug Laws and Penalties Each illegal drug in the State of North Carolina