As attitudes about cannabis consumption loosen across the United States, criminal penalties for possessing illegal substances are also becoming less strict. It is difficult to keep up with all the recent changes in legislation. Let’s take a look at what the penalties for drug possession are currently (as of September 2015) in the state of South Carolina.
Penalties Based On Amount Of Drug In Possession
As in most states, penalties are assessed based on the weight of the substance in possession. In South Carolina, there are three main categories of penalties for illegal substances: possession, sale, and manufacture. Possession is merely having the substance on your person. Sale, or trafficking, is distributing the substance to others. It is important to note that trafficking does not, by law, necessarily entail an exchange of money. It is common for those caught with small quantities of drugs to claim they are holding it for a friend. However, holding the substance with the intent to distribute it to your friend can constitute sale which is a more serious charge than if you simply had the drugs in your possession. Manufacture is producing or growing a substance. In general, intent is determined by the quantity of drugs present.
Charges For Possession Of Cannabis
Possession of under an ounce of cannabis is treated as a possession-level offense. This is a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in jail and an up to $200 fine. It is very common for a judge to grant a young or first-time offender deferred adjudication. This essentially means the accused must complete a probation program and their charge is dismissed upon successful completion of the program. Paraphernalia charges are an even more minor offense, punishable by a fine of up to $500.
South Carolina has some of the most stringent drug laws of any state as the courts have decided possession of any amount of cannabis over an ounce exceeds the limits for “personal use” and is enough to constitute trafficking. A trafficking charge is a felony charge and is punishable by up to five years in prison or a $5,000 fine. Penalties increase again at 10 pounds, with up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for first time offenders. Again, at 100 pounds penalties increase to up to 25 years in prison and a $25,000 fine; at 2,000 pounds the fine limit increases to $50,000 and increases again at 10,000 pounds to $200,000. Regardless of the amount, anyone caught selling marijuana to a minor or within a “drug-free zone” can be charged with a felony and imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined up to $10,000.
Most serious of all are manufacturing or cultivation charges. If someone is caught with any number of plants in their possession they face a felony charge with up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Over 100 plants and they will go to prison, possibly up to 25 years and additionally may be fined up to $25,000.
You Need A Criminal Defense Attorney
As national views on cannabis consumption continue to progress, penalties will likely become more lenient. However, if you have charged with possession of marijuana it is important to treat it like the serious legal issue that it is. You need knowledgeable and competent representation to help you avoid criminal penalties and mitigate the damage to your finances and reputation. Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at the De Bruin Law Firm today for a consultation.
What will a criminal defense attorney do for my case?
Once I have evaluated your case I will provide you an overview of your case. This will describe among other things the criminal law process, how we will work together to navigate the criminal justice system, and what expectation I have for you as a client and what expectations you should have for me as your defense attorney.
What should my attorney do to prepare my case for trial?
I collect not only the evidence that the government is required to supply, but also gather my own evidence for your defense as well. I will talk to witnesses, look for other video from third party sources, and go to the scene of the alleged offense. I believe your case is far to important not to go the extra mile to insure we know all the facts for your case, to provide you the best possible defense.
What do I need to do to help my attorney defend me?
No one cares more about your case than you. While we prepare your case, we also prepare your for trial. The one thing we need most from you is total honesty. Remember, everything you and I talk about is confidential. I am on your side.
For Drug offense cases, we may require you to look into a rehabilitation facility. I have had client’s charged with drug crimes who unfortunately we suffering from serious addiction and needed help, not jail. When I was able to convince those clients to make the difficult decision and enter a rehabilitation facility it helped create a positive situation that made negotiating their case more favorable. Many criminal cases last over a year. If I can help get a client suffering from an addition on the path to recovery while defending them from their criminal drug charges, their future becomes much more optimistic, and often, so does their case. Changing your life prior to trial or before a plea will greatly decrease your changes of going to jail. We are here to help not only with your legal needs, but also to help you in life. We have seen success stories and want you to be one too.
How much does a criminal defense attorney cost?
Your attorney’s fees will be based on multiple things including but not limited to, the severity of the crime, the evidence against you, prior convictions, and the amount of jail time your are facing if convicted. For criminal defense services I charge my client’s a flat fee on almost all cases at the start of their case. Therefore, you know how much your case will cost on day one.
I also am aware that many people are unable to afford to pay thousands of dollars upfront. In order to better serve my clients I offer a payment plan option. If you’d like to see if you qualify for our criminal defense payment plan option please contact us by using our form, or call us directly at (864) 372-2896.
Who will handle my case?
How do you know the attorney you hire is the attorney who will represent you during the entire process? I personally guarantee that I will handle every part of your criminal case, you will not be passed of t a junior attorney.