Drug offenses are probably the most commonly prosecuted charges in the Lowcountry. A drug, per South Carolina law, is any substance classified in Schedules 1-V. Not all drug offenses are the same, however, and the punishment for different charges ranges from fines to lengthy prison sentences, depending on several factors. In South Carolina, drug charges are also enhanceable. This means that an accused may face harsher penalties if they are caught a second or more times with drugs. Depending on the prior history of an accused, charges can vary. Drug charges fall into three categories: Simple Possession, Manufacturing, Distribution and Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID) and trafficking.
Simple possession is not always so simple. Being in possession of a quantity of a substance listed in one of the Schedules I-V without a valid prescription is a crime in South Carolina. A crime of simple possession carries a penalty of up to thirty days in jail for a first offense with less than an ounce, or 28 grams, of marijuana up to ten years for a third offense of possession of less than a gram of cocaine. These offenses carry varying fines that substantially increase with subsequent convictions and could stay on your criminal record forever if convicted of certain offenses.
Another issues to look out for with simple possession charges is if you are visiting our beautiful state and are charged with simple possession. States such as Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania to name a few will take away your driver’s license for certain drug convictions. It is absolutely important that if you are an out of state resident on vacation or passing through South Carolina that you hire an attorney if you are charged with a drug crime. Failure to protect your rights could have grave consequences in your home state. The last thing you want to happen is to be found guilty of simple possession in South Carolina only to find out that you will be losing your license to drive in your home state. Drug convictions can also affect your ability to get federal school loans, affect your professional licenses and other unintended consequences for what seems like a minor charge. Before you go it alone, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Thrower & Schwartz for a free case consultation to protect your rights.
Manufacturing, distribution and Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID) carry higher penalties than simply possessing drugs. You can be charged with PWID even if you don’t have more than an ounce of marijuana on you if you are caught with the drugs bagged in individual baggies or with other paraphernalia that lends the law to believe you are possessing the drugs with the intent to sell them. Manufacturing, distribution and possession with intent to distribute can carry signification jail time and heavy fines. If you have been charged with PWID or distribution or manufacturing call Thrower & Schwartz for a free criminal lawyer consultation to discuss your options and rights.
Trafficking is a charge that is based on the total amount of drugs that are confiscated. A trafficking charge often carries significant jail time, many times with a mandatory minimum jail sentence if convicted. A conviction for trafficking drugs may constitute what is known as a “strike” and can lead to life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.