Facing a drug charge is always a serious matter. If you have been charged with a drug crime in South Carolina, you could be facing heavy fines, imprisonment, and a criminal record with far-reaching consequences. It’s vital that you contact a criminal defense lawyer to examine your options.
Types Of Controlled Drugs
The seriousness of a drug charge depends on the kind of drug involved. Drugs in South Carolina are divided into five categories, or “schedules” I-V.
Schedule I Drugs
The most serious charges are those that involve Schedule I drugs. Schedule I drugs have high potential for abuse and have no current accepted medical use. Common Schedule I drugs include the following:
- Marijuana (cannabis)
Schedule II Drugs
Schedule II drugs also have high potential for abuse but are accepted for use in some medical treatment. They include the following:
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
Schedule III Drugs
Schedule III drugs have a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological addiction. They include the following:
- Tylenol with codeine
- Anabolic steroids
Schedule IV Drugs
Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. They are commonly used for medical treatment. Some examples of Schedule IV drugs are:
Schedule V Drugs
Schedule V drugs have lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and are generally used as mild painkillers and antidiarrheal and cough medicines. Common examples of Schedule V drugs include the following:
- Robitussin AC
Types Of Drug Charges
Drug charges in South Carolina fall into three main categories: possession, possession with intent to distribute (PWID), and trafficking.
Possession is the least serious type of drug charge and can vary depending on the kind of drug. Examples include simple possession of marijuana, possession of methamphetamine, possession of cocaine, possession of MDMA. Most first offenses of possession are misdemeanors in South Carolina.
There are two kinds of possession: actual and constructive. Actual possession means that you have the drug on your person or in your hand, and no one else has equal access to the drug. Constructive possession means that although you do not have physical possession of the drug, you know that the drug is on your property (your home or in your car, for example) and you have control over it. Constructive possession often involves multiple people with knowledge of and access to the drugs. To convict you of constructive possession, however, the state must prove that you knew the drugs were present, knew they were illegal, and had control over them. Mere proximity to the drugs is usually not enough to convict someone.
Possession With Intent To Distribute (PWID)
The difference between simple possession and possession with intent to distribute is that the drug is for more than just personal use. PWID is a felony in South Carolina.
The following are cases that can be charged with PWID:
- In any case where meth, cocaine, or heroin weighs more than 1 gram, a person may be charged with PWID, since the jury will be allowed to assume that the drug was meant for distribution.
- In any case where the sale of a drug to another person takes place, a person may be charged with PWID, regardless of the total amount of the drug sold.
- The presence of packaging (for example, multiple individual baggies) or a scale will allow the jury to assume that the drugs were meant for distribution.
Trafficking is the most serious drug charge in South Carolina. Like PWID, trafficking is a felony. The weight of the drug in your possession can be the determining factor between PWID and trafficking.
Penalties For Drug Charges
The penalty for a drug charge depends on 1) the type of drug, 2) the type of drug charge, and 3) the amount of the drug in question. Although penalties for drug charges vary from case to case, below are a few common examples of drug charges in South Carolina:
Marijuana (“weed,” “pot”)
- Possession (less than 1 oz): up to 30 days in prison and/or fines between $100-$200
- PWID (over 1 oz): 5 years in prison and/or fines up to a $5,000
- Trafficking (10 to 100 lbs.):1-10 years in prison and/or fines up to $10,000
- Possession (less than 10 g): 2 years in prison and/or fines up to $5,000
- PWID (10 g): felony; 15 years in prison and/or fines up to $25,000
- Sale to minor: up to 20 yrs. and/or $30,000
- Trafficking (10-28 g): 3-10 years in prison without probation and fines up to a $25,000
- Trafficking (28-100 g): 7-25 years without probation and fines up to $50,000
Methamphetamine (“meth”, “crank”, “ice”, “crystal”, “crystal meth”, or “cocaine base”)
- Possession (less than 1 g): 2-5 years in prison and at least a fine of $5,000
- PWID: 15-20 years in prison and at least a fine of $25,000
- Trafficking (more than 100 g): 25 years in prison and a fine of $50,000
Defenses Against Drug Charges
The best defenses against a drug charge will vary depending on the circumstances of the case. Here are a few common defenses that may apply:
- Unlawful search and seizure
- Incriminating statements were solicited without Miranda warnings
- Valid prescription
- Crime lab analysis
- The drugs belong to someone else
- Lack of intent to distribute or manufacture
A criminal defense attorney can determine which defenses might apply to your case. If you have been charged with possession of drugs, either for personal use or with intent to sell, you may have defenses available to you. A criminal defense lawyer can help determine what defenses may apply to your case. The state of South Carolina harshly prosecutes drug charges, and it’s vital that you contact a criminal defense attorney for a consultation. Call us at 864-336-2690.