Drug Trafficking Laws in South Carolina

When you think of drug trafficking, the images of smuggling large amounts of narcotics across state lines or international borders comes to mind.  Make no mistake that does happen, but in South Carolina you can be arrested for drug trafficking, if you’re in possession of illegal drugs over a certain amount, or weight.  You don’t need to be transporting the drugs anywhere and, in some cases, you don’t even have to be in possession of any drugs, if you provided financial assistance or conspired with one or more people to possess a certain weight the state can arrest you.

Hi, my name is Dale Savage and I’m a criminal defense attorney here in Charleston, SC and today we’re talking about drug trafficking laws in South Carolina.

What is Drug Trafficking?

Trafficking laws can be challenging b/c the state can charge you based on:

  • Possession of a threshold weight of illegal drugs or;
  • If you were part of a conspiracy to possess a certain threshold weight of illegal drugs.

What is the Law?

So how is drug trafficking defined in South Carolina? To establish trafficking, the prosecutor can do this by showing you:

  • Knowingly sold, manufactured, delivered, purchased or brought in this state; or
  • You provided financial assistance, aided, or conspired to possess illegal drugs in this state; or
  • Had possession of a certain threshold weight.

How do Police Show Trafficking?

These cases typically fall into two categories that law enforcement uses to establish trafficking.

1)  You were in possession of a threshold weight of illegal drugs (weight depends on the drug), or

2) You attempted or conspired to sell a certain threshold weight.

Possession of threshold weight

The threshold weight required for drug trafficking is set by our statutes.  The weights for the most common illegal narcotics I see are:

  • 10 lbs for marijuana
  • 10 grams for cocaine or cocaine mixture
  • 10 grams for meth.
  • 4 grams for heroin.
  • 100 tablets or more for ecstasy/MDMA.

All the state has to show is that you were in possession of the threshold weight to make their case.  Trafficking is simply possession of a certain amount.

Conspiracy of a certain amount

These cases can be made simply by someone trying to possess the threshold amount.  That means that the state does not need to show that you completed the transaction to bring a case.  Think wiretaps on your phone or money transfers to another person selling drugs.

Drug Trafficking defenses

You defend these cases one of two ways.  First, you mount a legal defense based on an illegal search or seizure under the 4 AM and if successful, the drugs are inadmissible against you.

This can come in many different scenarios such as:

  • Traffic stops.
  • Search warrants on your home or phone.
  • CI buys.

Did the government conduct an unlawful search that could result in the evidence being suppressed and inadmissible in court?

  • If it’s a wiretap, what was actually said, often time transactions are conducted in code so ppl don’t come out and say cocaine, marijuana, heroin or the weight.

You need to analyze the phone calls and the number of phone calls to determine the strength of the governments case.  One or two calls depending on what is said may not be that strong but if there are dozens of calls that defending them tougher.

Charleston, SC Criminal Defense Attorney

If have been charged with drug trafficking and want to discuss your options, please call me at (843) 530-7813.  I hope this video was helpful and thanks for watching.

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