Drug Enhancement in South Carolina
The police charged you with a first offense drug charge, now the prosecutor says your case qualifies for a drug enhancement and it’s a second, third or fourth offense. Can they do that?
Hi, my name is Dale Savage and I’m a criminal defense attorney here in Charleston, SC and today we’re talking about drug enhancement laws in South Carolina and when they apply.
So, can the state enhance a drug charge? Sometimes. When it comes to drug enhancement laws in South Carolina, if you have a prior drug conviction then your current charge, meaning your new charge, can be enhanced to a second or subsequent offense, sometimes. Because the penalties are increased for subsequent convictions good attorneys will know when the state can and more importantly, cannot enhance your drug charge.
What’s the Law?
When it comes to drug enhancements, the law is broken down into two categories and they are pending marijuana charges and all other pending drug charges.
Pending Marijuana Charge
So, let’s talk about pending marijuana charges. This means if you have a pending marijuana charge whether it’s a misdemeanor simple possession or a felony distribution or trafficking charge.
The state can enhance your pending marijuana charge in two circumstances, and they do this by looking back at your prior criminal record.
If you have been convicted, not arrested, of 1st offense possession of marijuana within the last 5 years, then the state can enhance your pending charge. That means even if the police charged you with a first offense, the state can, if it chooses too, enhance your charge to a 2nd offense.
If you have been convicted at any time of a marijuana offense other than a Possession of marijuana 1st offense, then the state can use that conviction to enhance your pending charge. There is no time limit on how far back the state can look, they are not limited to the last 5 years.
Pending all Other Drug Charges
For any pending drug charges that are not marijuana, such as cocaine, heroin, crack, the state can enhance your pending drug charge in two circumstances, again they do this by looking back at your prior criminal record.
If you have been convicted of a 1st offense drug charge other than marijuana within the last 10 years, then the state can enhance your pending charge.
If you have been convicted at any time of a 2nd or subsequent drug offense other than marijuana, then the state can use that conviction to enhance your pending charge. There is no time limit on how far back the state can look, they are not limited to the last 10 years.
Does this mean the state will always enhance your charge? No, but they certainly can under these limited circumstances so it’s important that you are aware of your exposure when it comes to having pending drug charges with a prior history of drug convictions.
If there are weak or no legal defenses available in your case, there may be the option of drug court or sometimes a negotiation with the state to not enhance the pending charge and risk the increased penalties and sometimes mandatory jail time.
Charleston, SC Drug Crimes Lawyer
So, if have a pending drug charge and are concerned about possible enhancements, please call me at (843) 530-7813. I hope this video was helpful and thanks for watching.