With Halloween approaching, we thought it fitting to write a blog about distributing food with harmful or controlled substances. You may have grown up hearing that your Halloween candy could contain razor blades or the like. You may also have heard of some of the tales that have circulated around the nation about people giving out candy containing marijuana (edibles) to children on Halloween. Regardless of whether these stories are true, we will be discussing what candy-giving behaviors are illegal and what penalties a person could face if convicted of such a crime.
This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.
The Law in North Carolina
In North Carolina, it is a felony to knowingly distribute food containing drugs, harmful substances, toxins, poison, or an object that can cause injury. These acts are illegal at Halloween and at all other times, so long as the person giving the food away knows that the food contains such a substance. N.C.G.S 401.11 governs and prohibits “distribution of certain food at Halloween and all other times.”
What, specifically, is illegal?
It is unlawful for any person to knowingly distribute, sell, give away or otherwise cause to be placed in a position of human accessibility, any food or edible substance which that person knows to contain:
- Any noxious or deleterious substance, material or article which might be injurious to a person’s health or might cause a person any physical discomfort, or
- Any controlled substance included in any schedule of the Controlled Substances Act, or
- Any poisonous chemical or compound or any foreign substance such as, but not limited to, razor blades, pins, and ground glass, which might cause death, serious physical injury or serious physical pain and discomfort.
This crime is punished as a Class F felony when the substance put into the food is a drug or harmful substance. If the substance is a poisonous chemical or foreign substance, such as a razor blade, this crime is punished as a Class C felony.
The sentence that a person may face depends upon a person’s prior record level and whether any aggravating factors or mitigating factors are proven. If convicted of a Class F felony, a person with 0-1 prior record level points sentenced in the presumptive range could face 13-29 months active. If convicted of a Class C felony, the same person could face 58-100 months active.
If you have been charged with a crime and are in need of a criminal defense attorney, contact us to discuss your options.