There is no such thing as a minor drug charge in South Carolina. Even a “simple” possession conviction could result in potential jail time. In the meantime, you may also be facing one of many other possible consequences of having a criminal record. There are many outcomes when you are facing drug charges, and you need to obtain the best possible result in your case.
You should always contact a Florence drug crime defense attorney when you are facing charges. Our criminal defense lawyer at McCall Law can help you when you end up in the justice system.
Types of Drug Charges in South Carolina
Drug charges in South Carolina can range from possession to trafficking. The severity of the charges would depend on what type of drug you are alleged to have and the purpose of the possession. Drugs are classified by substance.
The categories of illegal drugs in South Carolina are:
- Schedule I drugs have great potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. These drugs can include marijuana, ecstasy, and heroin
- Schedule II drugs have a similarly high potential for abuse, along with severe psychological or physical dependence. Examples of Schedule II drugs include cocaine and fentanyl.
- Schedule III drugs do not have the same potential for abuse or dependence but nevertheless are still illegal. This category of drugs can include anabolic steroids.
- Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse and minimal risk of dependence but are illegal without a prescription.
Drug Charges Under South Carolina and Federal Law
Here are the types of drug charges that you may face in South Carolina
- Possession is when you are charged with possessing the drug for personal use
- Possession with intent to distribute, which is when you are allegedly apprehended with a certain amount of controlled substances or paraphernalia (law enforcement could infer intent to distribute based on the circumstances, and they do not need to prove actual intent)
- Drug trafficking, when you are accused of possessing extremely large amounts of controlled substances (this is the most serious charge)
The federal government also has its own drug laws that provide for federal charges. Federal drug charges may include:
- Simple possession, which is charged as a misdemeanor
- Distribution/Manufacturing/Possession with intent to Distribute
- Conspiracy or attempts to distribute
- Use of a Communication Facility to Facilitate Drug Felony
- Continuing criminal conspiracy to distribute (the drug kingpin law)
Federal laws can be even more expansive and strict than South Carolina state laws. Federal prosecutors are very experienced in investigating alleged drug crimes. If you find yourself being prosecuted for a federal drug crime, you could be facing serious consequences. Some federal drug convictions have high mandatory minimum sentences.
Penalties for Drug Convictions
You can face the following penalties for drug-related convictions in South Carolina:
- Possession depends on the amount and the substance. Possession of one ounce or less of substances like marijuana would be charged as a misdemeanor with a jail sentence of up to 30 days (the federal penalty is up to one year in prison)
- Possession with intent to distribute is punishable with up to five years in prison if the substance is marijuana, and up to 15 years for cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin (federal charges can carry mandatory minimums of five or ten years, depending on the substance and amount)
- Drug trafficking carries a sentence of one to ten years for the first offense (with a mandatory minimum) and five to twenty years for a second offense. Federal convictions carry the same penalties as possession with intent to distribute, although drug kingpin convictions are punishable with 20 years to life in prison.
There are additional penalties, depending on the circumstances. For example, under federal law, there are enhanced penalties if the distribution of a drug resulted in death or serious bodily injury. South Carolina law adds a greater penalty if there was a firearm used in conjunction with a drug crime.
Jail time is only part of your concerns. Some other possible ramifications of a drug conviction in South Carolina are:
- Loss of your right to own a firearm
- Difficulty finding a job because of a criminal record
- Loss of government benefits
- Loss of custody or visitation time with children
- Ineligibility for federal student loans and grant
Defenses to Drug Charges
You can fight any charge against you when law enforcement has violated your legal rights. These violations tend to happen more often in a drug case. Police need the physical evidence to use against you since it is the basis of their case. They may cross a line in the steps that they use to obtain that evidence.
We would review the circumstances of your case and your arrest to determine whether there is an opening to contest the charges against you. Some defenses to drug charges are:
- If you were arrested for buying or selling drugs, you could argue that you were entrapped into committing the act
- Police conducted an illegal search because they lacked probable cause, or they exceeded the scope of the more limited search that they could conduct under the lower reasonable suspicion standard.
- Law enforcement cannot establish the chain of custody for the evidence that they seized.
- Police violated your rights by either questioning you without a lawyer present or denying your right to counsel.
- Law enforcement conducted improper testing or measuring of the substance they seized
If you can get evidence suppressed that the prosecutor is trying to use against you because it was illegally seized, you would be in a much better position to win your case.
Contact a Drug Crime Lawyer in Florence Today
If you have been charged with a drug crime, you have legal rights and possible options, even though you may be facing serious penalties. Your first move should be to contact McCall Law to represent you in your case. Without legal help, your rights can be at risk. You can reach out to us online, or call us today at 843-279-8148. The first call is the most important one to make.