With the Trump administration ramping up the war on drugs the focus on making drug arrests have increased across the country including South Carolina. That means the typical police tactic of making pre-textual (see below) traffic stops will continue and most likely increase. Understanding South Carolina marijuana laws is vital and why you should seek the help of a Charleston criminal defense attorney.
What is a pre-textual stop?
A pre-textual traffic stop is when police suspect that you are involved in criminal activity such as possession drugs but have not evidence yet. They conduct a lawful traffic stop for a minor infraction such as speeding, window tint (North Charleston favorite), failure to use turn signal while changing lanes. This now gives them a chance to smell marijuana coming from inside your vehicle and conduct a warrantless search because they now have probable cause.
Different levels of Marijuana charges
There are many factors that define which marijuana charge you are likely to be charged with. Weight that you have is just one factor but often a possession weight can be charged as a felony if you sell it to another person (confidential informant) or you have other items of evidence that support a felony charge such as a weigh scale, money, numerous baggies etc. The important point to remember is that just because you are charged with a felony drug charge does not mean that you will be convicted of that same charge, that’s why you need a Charleston criminal defense attorney to fight your case.
Another common charge under South Carolina marijuana laws is possession of drug paraphernalia. This related charge often arises when someone has rolling papers in their vehicle, baggies, or a weigh scale. Drug paraphernalia basically covers anything that is used in manufacturing, consuming drugs, cleaning products for drug equipment, etc. and includes:
- Roach clips;
A conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia can carry up to 30 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. In some Municipal courts this charge will simply result in a fine only.
Simple Possession of Marijuana
Possession of marijuana is probably the most common type of drug charge there is. Why? Mostly for two reasons, 1) the popularity of marijuana and its increased usage to treat PTSD instead of taking a multitude of prescribed narcotics, and 2) it’s very easy for police to detect marijuana. The odor from marijuana is very strong and therefore easy for police to detect in vehicles. Possession can be merely under 28 grams of marijuana (although there is also possession greater than an ounce). What does it mean to be in possession of marijuana? You can have actual possession or constructive possession where two or more persons can be charged with possession of the one item. Under SC marijuana laws the penalties for marijuana possession vary depending on the weight and whether it is a first or second offense.
Will I lose my driver’s license with a possession charge
Thankfully this law was changed several years ago so no longer will you lose your license for a conviction. Personally it made no sense to me that you should lose your driving privileges when you were never driving or under the influence of marijuana.
Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID)
Many people are shocked to learn that despite having only a possession weight they are charged with the felony PWID marijuana. This can happen under several circumstances such as selling to a confidential informant, you have a large quantity of marijuana that police believe is more than a personal use amount, there are items associated with selling marijuana such as having multiple baggies of marijuana, weigh scales or police witness a hand-to-hand transaction. The penalties for Felony marijuana possession can be found here.
Trafficking marijuana is one of those charges under South Carolina marijuana laws where you can be charged and convicted despite never having touched any marijuana at all. Of course the most common occurrence if you are caught with 10 pounds or more of marijuana but the trafficking statute also has a provision that if you are part of a conspiracy then you can be convicted of trafficking marijuana. This often occurs when you arrange a drug transaction for another person and never saw or touched the actual marijuana but were caught on a wiretap making the arrangement for over 10 pounds of marijuana. Trafficking marijuana penalties.
Charleston Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a marijuana drug crime call today at (843) 530-7813 to speak with an experienced Charleston drug crimes attorney to learn more about South Carolina marijuana laws, the consultation is free and all discussions are confidential.