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Jail Time Drug Possession: How Many Years in Prison for Conviction?

Possession of drugs can lead to imprisonment if convicted in the court of law. Get the expected jail time drug possession here.

In North Dakota, possession of a controlled substance can earn you anywhere from 0 days to more than ten years in jail, depending on the drug, if you have prior offenses, the amount you are found in possession of, and other factors.

There are two types of possession charges in North Dakota, each with its own penalties: Possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute. The latter charge comes with more severe penalties.

Understanding North Dakota’s laws surrounding jail time for drug possession is a challenging task. We will take it on in this guide to help you understand how various factors in your arrest determine the penalties applied.

Possession of a Controlled Substance

Possession of a controlled substance is typically a lower-level criminal offense, especially if it is a first-time offense. This is due, in part, to the state’s goal to go easier on people who may be suffering from a substance abuse disorder.

Still, it is illegal to possess illicit drugs or legal medications without a valid doctor’s prescription. Find out how much jail time you can expect with this charge next.

Jail Time by Drug Schedule

North Dakota punishes first-time Schedule I to V drug possession offenders with a class A misdemeanor, up to one year in jail, and/or a $3,000 fine. This includes the following drugs:

  • Schedule I: Opioids, methamphetamines, barbiturates, and hallucinogens
  • Schedule II: Prescription opiates and amphetamines
  • Schedule III: Prescription codeine
  • Schedule IV: Xanax, Valium, and Ambien
  • Schedule V: Antidiarrheals, antitussives, and analgesics

You may notice that cannabis (i.e., marijuana) is not on this list. That’s because North Dakota regulates cannabis possession differently. Possession is usually grounds for an infraction, which is kind of like a traffic ticket.

Even though it is a Schedule 1 drug, you will not receive jail time for a first-time possession offense as long as you are found in possession of less than a half ounce.

Jail Time by Prior Offenses

Having a prior offense increases the potential jail time for drug possession, including cannabis. Second and subsequent possession offenses for Schedule I through V drugs can earn you a class C felony, up to five years in prison, and/or a $10,000 fine.

Subsequent offenses for marijuana possession are, again, exceptions. People found in possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana within the same calendar year as their first offense may receive up to 30 days in jail.

Jail Time by Amount

Possessing any amount of a Scheduled drug will earn you a class A misdemeanor for a first offense or a class C felony for second and subsequent offenses. Possessing the following amounts will bump up the charge to the next highest offense level:

  • More than 50 grams of heroin, meth, or cocaine
  • More than 10 grams of PCP
  • More than one gram of LSD
  • More than 100 doses of MDMA, GHB, or flunitrazepam

However, if you are found in possession of five or fewer pills of a Schedule II, III, IV, or V drug, a subsequent charge will remain a class A misdemeanor. This offense will only earn you up to one year in jail, another attempt to curb offenses by people with a drug addiction.

With marijuana, possession of more than a half ounce will increase the first-time penalty to a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a $1,500 fine.

Possessing more than 500 grams of cannabis is where the jail time can start to resemble other drug charges. This offense will earn offenders a class A misdemeanor, which comes with up to one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine.

Possession of a Controlled Substance With Intent to Distribute

Possession with intent to distribute is a more serious crime in North Dakota. Also known as simply ‘intent to distribute,’ this charge means the offender was caught while attempting to deliver or transfer the drug from one person to another, whether they are a drug dealer or not.

To be charged with this crime, offenders must be found in possession of a significant amount of the drug(s). Being found in possession of paraphernalia, scales, or large amounts of cash can also be grounds for intent to distribute.

The exact penalties applied for this offense depend on the drug schedule.

Jail Time for Intent to Distribute a Schedule I, II, or III Drug

Intent to distribute a Schedule I, II, or III drug is sufficient for a class B felony in North Dakota. Offenders found guilty of this crime can earn up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.

Although cannabis is a Schedule I drug, possessing it with the intent to distribute will not earn offenders as severe of penalties (more on this in a moment).

Jail Time for Intent to Distribute a Schedule V Drug

Intent to distribute a Schedule V drug will earn you a class A misdemeanor. Penalties include up to one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine.

Jail Time for Intent to Distribute a Schedule IV Drug or Marijuana

Intent to distribute a Schedule IV drug or marijuana qualifies for a class C felony, the lowest level felony charge. Being convicted of this offense can earn you up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

Aggravating Factors Impacting Jail Time for Drug Possession

Possessing drugs on school grounds or with a firearm is sufficient for more severe penalties, regardless of the drug amount or prior offenses. Learn more about these aggravating factors next.

Possession on School Grounds

Possessing any drug other than cannabis on school grounds can earn offenders a class B felony. This charge comes with up to ten years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.

Possession With a Firearm

Possessing a firearm at the same time as a scheduled drug, including marijuana, can increase your charge to the next highest offense level. The exact jail time will depend on the exact offense level.

Charged With Drug Possession? Call Heartland Law Office

In North Dakota, jail time for drug possession ranges from none for minor marijuana possession offenses to more than ten years for second-time or subsequent possession of Schedule I to V drugs.

Are you fighting a drug possession charge in Bismark, ND? Our criminal defense lawyers have a track record of winning clients less or even no jail time for drug offenses. Request a free case evaluation today to get started.