What is the law on drug possession in South Carolina?
If an individual is arrested on drug charges in South Carolina, he should first hire an excellent attorney to represent him. The primary reason is that in the United States, nearly 1,155,610 people are arrested annually on drug possession charges. However, the law for possessing a controlled substance differs from state to state. In South Carolina, the punishment for having a controlled substance is a monetary fine, or it can even lead to incarceration. It all depends on your attorney and how well he represents you to help reduce the sentence and ensure you get justice. Here is all you must know about the law on drug possession in South Carolina.
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Is drug possession a felony in SC?
Possessing drugs is a severe offense in South Carolina. Even an ounce of a controlled substance like marijuana can land you in jail for 30 days. If you are found in possession of other dangerous chemicals and drugs, it can lead to more jail time. It is considered a felony in South Carolina, and you will face prosecution charges. Some of the factors that cover drug possession felony in South Carolina are as follows:
- Penalty for the first-time offender: The common notion is that if you are a first-time offender, there are chances that you will get a lighter sentence. However, this depends on the type of drug found on you. For instance, if you are in possession of Schedule I and II narcotics, you are looking at a fine of $5000 or up to two years of imprisonment. In some instances, you can receive both punishments, meaning you must pay the fine and be incarcerated. You will need a lawyer to evaluate your case and ensure you get the minimum sentence. The minimum sentencing will depend on several factors, such as the amount of the controlled substance in your possession and whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony. A felony has a stricter sentence, whereas you can expect a lighter sentence if you are charged with a misdemeanor.
- Penalty for the second-time offender: A second-time offender found possessing narcotics will be handed a harsher sentence by the South Carolina courts. In most cases, you will find that the judge will need to distinguish whether it is a Schedule I or II narcotic. If you are found in possession of a drug like cocaine, you can expect even harsher sentencing. In most cases, a second-time offender is considered a felon, and if he is found in possession of Schedule I, and II, narcotics, he will have to pay a fine of nearly $5000 and be in jail for five years. Rarely does a judge grant that second-time offender a chance just to pay the fine. Usually, he is incarcerated, and to help reduce jail time, you need a good lawyer. If you are found in possession of Schedule III, IV, or V narcotics, you can receive a sentence where you will have to pay a penalty of $2000 or one year of jail time. Sometimes the judge can sentence you to pay the fine and do the jail time. With the help of a promising drug offense lawyer, you can reduce your sentence to a penalty.
- Penalty for a third-time offender: If you are a third-time or more offender, you can expect strict sentencing from the judge. You will have to pay fines up to $10000 or jail for five years or more for these offences. Sometimes a judge can sentence you to pay the fine and do jail time. In a third-time violation, a judge will not distinguish whether you were found possessing Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V category narcotics. The fact that you are a repeat offender is sufficient to ensure that you get the maximum sentence.
The South Carolina law on drug possession is quite strict, so you must hire the best lawyer to represent you aggressively in court. You must establish that you had the narcotics, not intending to sell them. If the prosecution can prove that you intended to sell, they can move for the maximum sentence. Thus, as the defendant, the first thing you should do if anyone you know is arrested on drug possession charges is to hire a good drug offense lawyer.
What amount of drugs is considered trafficking in SC?
Drug trafficking is quite different from possession. It is usually a felony and comes with a severe punishment. The primary reason for this is trafficking is done with the intention of distribution. Now, if you have many narcotics in possession, the police will book you for drug trafficking. This means you have the drugs on you because you want to sell or distribute them, which amounts to drug trafficking. This can land you a sentence of 25 to 40 years in prison.
The amount of narcotics you must possess to be charged with trafficking differs depending on the type of drugs. For example, if you are found with 10 pounds or more of cocaine, you will be charged with trafficking at the state level. Similarly, if you are found with 500 grams of cocaine, you can be accused of trafficking at a federal level. Some of the other threshold amounts for different drugs are as follows:
- One gram of Rohypnol is considered trafficking at both state and federal levels.
- Four grams of Heroin, Morphine, or other opiates are considered trafficking at the state level. However, if you possess 100 grams or more of the same opiate, you will be charged with trafficking at a federal level.
- If you have 100 LSD tablets, you will be charged with trafficking at the state level but carrying even 1 of these tablets can lead to a similar sentence at the federal level.
- If you have 10 pounds of marijuana, you will be charged with trafficking at the state level.
- At a federal level, you can be charged even if you have marijuana plants. However, you must have 1000 kilograms or at least 1000 marijuana plants on your property to be accused of trafficking at a federal level.
- If you are found with 100 tablets of Ecstasy, you will be charged with trafficking at a state level. Any amount of the tablets will bring the same charge at a federal level.
- If you have 5 grams of pure Methamphetamine or 50 grams of a meth mixture, you will be charged with trafficking charges at a federal level.
While being charged, the prosecution can choose to charge you at the state level or federal level, or both. When you counter the prosecution’s claims, you must have a good lawyer to defend you aggressively. It is essential to provide valid evidence and the reason behind the presence of the drugs. Your lawyer must establish that the defendant had no intention to sell the drugs so that the judge can reduce the trafficking charges.
Do first-time drug offenders go to jail in South Carolina?
According to a drug charge lawyer near Charleston, SC, first-time drug offenders are sometimes sent to jail, but that depends on several factors. As per the South Carolina drug law, a first-time drug offense can be considered a misdemeanor, and the person concerned can be let off with a fine of $5000. However, in many cases, first-time drug offenders are charged with a fine of $5000 and are made to serve a maximum jail time of two years. The sentence depends on factors such as the type of drugs in his possession and whether he intended to sell these.
The objective of the prosecution will be to establish an ‘intent to sell’. This is based on the amount of drugs found in the defendant’s possession. If you are the defendant and you are found to possess, say, a significant amount of cocaine or heroin, then the prosecutor will try to establish that you want to sell or distribute the drugs. Thus, even as a first-time offender, you pose a danger to the community; hence, he will recommend jail time. In such a scenario, a first-time offender can also get sent to jail. Sometimes even possessing an ounce or less than that of drugs like cocaine, heroin, and LSD can land you in prison for 30 days.
When you hire a lawyer to fight the drug charges, his objective will be to ensure you do not commit jail time. As a first-time offender, it is essential that the crime be treated as a misdemeanor and to establish the fact that the defendant is not a danger to society. Ensuring the prosecution’s charges that you intended to sell and distribute the drugs are unfounded is necessary. Your attorney will also convince the court that it is a one-time event and that there will be no repetitions. This is essential to ensure that the charges are dropped, and you do not have to spend a day in jail. He will also check whether the police upheld your constitutional rights during the investigation and whether the proceedings were according to the law. When all of these are done, a first-time offender’s chance of going to jail for the possession of drugs will be significantly reduced.
What to Do if You’re Arrested for Drug Possession?
The drug charges in South Carolina are pretty strict, and it is essential to understand that if a person is arrested for possessing drugs, it is illegal, and it is best not to resist the arrest. Sometimes the defendants are framed, and as the case proceeds, evidence emerges that proves the defendant’s innocence. However, at the initial stage, you mustn’t add additional charges to drug possession, such as resisting arrest or assaulting a police officer. Thus, there are certain things that you should do if you are arrested for possessing drugs, and some of these are as follows:
- You must remain calm and allow the police officer to do his duty. He will handcuff you and drive you to the police station.
- Once you arrive at the police station, you must divulge certain information, such as your name, age, height, and other similar information. It is important to stay silent and give the minimum information. You can always say that you will speak when your lawyer is present.
- When you are in the police station, you can make one phone call. If you already have an attorney, then give him a call. Otherwise, call a family member or a loved one asking him to hire a drug charge lawyer near Charleston, SC, so that you can understand your rights.
- Only write down something if your attorney tells you to. You should talk to the police only in the presence of your attorney.
- Do not try to talk your way out of it or bribe your way out of it. This can only worsen matters as the police will get additional charges to put on you. Wait for your lawyer and ask him to help you build a case.
- When you hire a lawyer, he will apply for bail at your arraignment. The judge can allow or deny the bail; however, in most cases, as a first-offender, bail is granted.
Hiding an experienced lawyer when you are arrested for possessing drugs is essential. This will allow you to understand the law and your options better. You can also evaluate your possibilities of dropping the charges or getting the minimum sentence. Suppose you are a first-time offender with a good lawyer. In that case, you may get lighter sentencing as the judge might not consider it a felony and regard it as a misdemeanor.
If you have a family member who needs a lawyer to help him with drug possession charges, you must contact us at Longshore Law Firm LLC. We believe in representing our clients aggressively and ensuring their constitutional rights are upheld, no matter the charges. When you hire us, you hire the best drug charge lawyer near Charleston, SC. So contact us immediately if you are considering hiring a law firm to give your family member’s case personal attention.