Imposing harsh punishment for drug crimes has been the mantra of legislators around the country for over four decades now, ever since the Nixon era “War on drugs” began. Although many states have started to realize that arresting our way out of the problem simply hasn’t worked the new U.S. Attorney General has announced that he is going to get tough on drug crimes, even minor marijuana offenses and those states that have legalized marijuana possession at the state level will be prosecuted in federal courts. Because of this new policy shift it is vital that you consult a Charleston criminal defense attorney if you have been arrested for a drug crime. Understanding South Carolina drug penalties could mean the difference between going to jail or being free.
Levels of drug crimes
There are typically three levels of drug offenses ranging from misdemeanor offenses in magistrates court up to violent felonies that carry mandatory jail time of 25 years or more.
Possession: these types of charges can be heard in both magistrates and general sessions courts depending on the substance and whether it is a first or second level offense. Possession is usually when the substance is for personal use only.
Possession with intent to distribute: this is a felony charge in general sessions and usually falls under two scenario’s. First,, is when you sell to a confidential informant, it does not matter if the quantity is merely a dime bag of marijuana, the fact that you were selling rather than using it for your personal use makes this a felony level offense. Second, is when you possess a quantity that would appear to be more than personal use and you also possess other items that suggest selling such as weigh scales, plastic baggies, drugs stored in multiple separate baggies.
Manufacturing: this is when you are involved in the creation of the making the drugs such as manufacturing meth, having a grow operation for marijuana, etc. This is a felony level offense heard in general sessions court.
Trafficking: can be either possessing a certain weight of a particular drug or sometimes never possessing drugs at all but being involved in the conspiracy of possessing large quantities of drugs (being caught on a wiretap arranging a drug transaction even though you never saw the drugs).
What punishment can you face for drug offenses
Marijuana Possession 1st (28 grams or less): 0-30 days jail.
Marijuana possession 1st (over an ounce): 0–6 months jail.
Marijuana Possession with intent to distribute/Manufacturing 1st: 0-5 yrs. jail
Marijuana trafficking 1st (0ver 10 lbs): 1-10 yrs.
Cocaine possession 1st: 0-3 yrs. jail.
Cocaine Possession with intent to distribute/Manufacturing 1st: 0-15 yrs. jail.
Trafficking cocaine 1st (10-28 grams): 3-10 yrs. jail.
Crack possession 1st: 0-3 yrs. jail.
Crack possession with intent to distribute/Manufacturing 1st: 0-15 yrs. jail.
Trafficking crack 1st (10-28 grams): 3-10 yrs. jail.
Heroin possession 1st: 0–2 yrs. in jail.
Heroin possession with intent to distribute/Manufacturing 1st: 0-15 yrs. jail
Trafficking heroin 1st (4-14 grams): 7-25 yrs. jail.
Charleston Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a drug crime call today at (843) 530-7813 to speak with an experienced Charleston drug crimes attorney to learn more about South Carolina drug penalties, the consultation is free and all discussions are confidential.