South Carolina Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer

Columbia SC Criminal Lawyer

Despite efforts to reform drug laws, the most serious offense for inmates admitted to the South Carolina Department of Corrections in 2018 was listed as “dangerous drugs” for 1,735 people, or 22.9% of the overall population in jail. Approximately 5.4 million criminal incidents involving drugs were reported to agencies that provided this information to the FBI.

It is clear that not all individuals charged of drug crimes are actually guilty of those crimes. When you are charged with a drug crime, it is important that you have strong and effective lawyers in your corner who will fight to prove your innocence or lessen the effects of your charge. Our South Carolina drug crimes criminal defense lawyers work diligently to get your charges dismissed, mitigate the effects of a conviction or fight to have you acquitted (found not guilty).

What Are the Different Types of Drug Crimes in South Carolina?

Drug crimes are codified in Title 44 Chapter 53 of the SC Code of Laws. Our dedicated legal team assists individuals who are charged with the following drug crimes in South Carolina:

  • Producing a drug
  • Preparing a drug
  • Processing a controlled substance
  • Using chemical synthesis to make a drug
  • Adding compounds together to form a drug
  • Packaging a controlled substance
  • Labeling a container with a controlled substance

What Is Defined as Drug Trafficking in South Carolina?

Drug trafficking charges in South Carolina are imposed when the drugs involved reach a certain quantity or weight. For example, SC Code of Laws § 44-53-210 defines “trafficking in cocaine” as knowingly selling, manufacturing, purchasing, delivering, cultivating or bringing in ten grams or more of cocaine into the state. Similarly, when 10 pounds or more of marijuana are involved, a person can be charged with “trafficking in marijuana.”

This type of charge can be imposed even if a person had no intention of selling their drugs to anyone else. South Carolina prosecutors often aggressively pursue maximum sentences against people who are in possession of large quantities of drugs, so it is vital to have an equally aggressive defense when you are facing charges of this nature.

What Is Defined as Drug Possession with the Intent to Distribute (PWID) in South Carolina?

Drug possession with the intent to distribute in South Carolina is a lesser included offense to drug trafficking. This crime is charged when law enforcement finds a sufficient quantity of drugs in an individual’s possession to presume the individual intended to sell or distribute them. The law is codified in SC Code of Laws § 44-53-370.

What is the Difference Between Actual vs. Constructive Possession in South Carolina?

Drug possession in South Carolina is charged when a person is found to have even a small amount of a controlled substance in their possession. SC Code of Laws § 44-53-370 states that it is illegal for a person to knowingly or intentionally possess a controlled substance unless the person obtained it from a valid prescription or in other legal ways.

This crime includes actual possession of a drug, which means having physical custody or control of the drug. However, drug possession can also be charged when a person is found to be in constructive possession of the drug, such as the drug being found in a car, home or other area near the person. This means that a person may wind up being charged with this offense if someone else in their home or vehicle had drugs and they didn’t even know about it.

What Is Considered Marijuana Possession in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, it is illegal to possess any species or variety of the marijuana plant, any of its parts, its seed, or its resin, according to SC Code of Laws § 44-53-110. When a person possesses any measurable amount of marijuana, he or she can be charged with marijuana possession in South Carolina. Different charges may result, depending on the amount of marijuana a person has in their possession:

Simple possession can be charged when someone has one ounce or less of marijuana.

Possession with intent to distribute charges result when a person has up to 10 pounds of marijuana in their possession.

Trafficking can be charged when someone has possession of more than ten pounds of marijuana.

What Are the Medical Marijuana Laws in South Carolina?

At the time of writing this, South Carolina does not have a medical marijuana law. Marijuana is still considered an illegal substance under state and federal law. However, some lawmakers in South Carolina have been attempting to pass a medical marijuana bill since 2015. If passed, the S.C. Compassionate Care Act would legalize marijuana for medical use. It would allow patients who are authorized by a doctor to purchase up to 2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. According to the current version of the bill, the marijuana would have to be grown in the state and distributed to at least one dispensary in each of the 46 counties throughout the state.

The steadfast legal team at the Woods Law Firm provides counsel to individuals who want to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. We also have extensive knowledge of area prosecutors and the court system and can negotiate a compassionate and/or alternative resolution when an individual is arrested. for marijuana possession after purchasing it for pain relief or other medical purposes.

For an explanation on medical marijuana laws in South Carolina, contact the Woods Law Firm via a call or text at (864) 810-0384.

What Other Drug Crimes in South Carolina Can I Be Charged With?

In addition to the crimes stated above, there are many other drug crimes in South Carolina that a person can be charged with.

  • Possession of drug paraphernalia — It is illegal in South Carolina to possess items that are designed to help ingest, manufacture or prepare a controlled substance. A person who has a pipe, bong or roach clip can be charged with this offense.
  • DUI — A person who drives while under the influence of drugs can be charged with DUI in South Carolina.
  • Exposing child to methamphetamine — A person who manufactures methamphetamine around a minor can be charged with this particular crime.
  • Money laundering — When a person mixes money that is part of the drug trade with legitimate businesses or transactions, prosecutors may tack on additional money laundering charges.
  • Federal drug crimes — A person can be charged with violation of federal drug crimes, as well as state drug crimes.

Our  criminal defense lawyers proudly serve all residents and visitors in South Carolina. We will protect you at all stages of your case and protect your rights.

What Other Drug Crimes in South Carolina Can I Be Charged With?

The possible punishment for conviction of a drug crime in South Carolina depends on three factors:

  1. The type of drug
  2. The amount of the drug
  3. Whether the defendant has a prior conviction for a drug offense

Some example drug crimes and penalties in South Carolina include:

What Are the Penalties for Trafficking?

Drug trafficking in South Carolina carries the following potential penalties:

What Are the Penalties for Marijuana Trafficking?

  • 10 – 100 pounds — Imprisonment of 1 to 10 years in prison; a fine up to $10,000 
  • 100 – 2,000 pounds — Imprisonment up to 25 years; a fine up to $25,000
  • 2,000 – 10,000 pounds — Imprisonment up to 25 years; a fine up to $50,000
  • Greater than 10,000 pounds — Imprisonment of a minimum of 25 years and a maximum of 30 years; a fine up to $200,000

What Are the Penalties for Cocaine Trafficking? 

  • 10 – 28 grams — A minimum term of imprisonment of 3 years up to a maximum of 10 years; a fine of $25,000
  • 28 – 100 grams — A minimum term of imprisonment of 7 years up to a maximum of 25 years; a fine of $50,000
  • 100 – 200 grams — A mandatory term of imprisonment of 25 years; a fine of $50,000
  • 200 – 400 grams — A mandatory term of imprisonment of 25 years; a fine of $100,000
  • More than 400 grams — A minimum term of imprisonment of 25 years up to a maximum of 30 years; a fine of $200,000

What Are the Penalties for Methamphetamine Trafficking?

  • 15 – 150 grams — A minimum term of imprisonment of one year up to a maximum of 10 years; a fine up to $10,000
  • 150 – 1,500 grams — A mandatory term of imprisonment of 25 years; a fine up to $25,000
  • 1,500 grams – 15 kilograms — A mandatory term of imprisonment of 25 years; a fine up to $50,000
  • More than 15 kilograms — A mandatory term of imprisonment of 25 years up to a maximum of 30 years; a fine up to $200,000

What Are the Penalties for Trafficking Morphine, Opium or Heroin?

  • 4 – 14 grams — A minimum term of imprisonment of seven years up to a maximum of 25 years; a fine up to $100,000
  • 14 – 28 grams — A mandatory term of imprisonment of 25 years; a fine up to $200,000
  • More than 28 kilograms —A mandatory term of imprisonment of 25 years up to a maximum of 40 years; a fine up to $200,000

The penalties above are for individuals who are charged as a first offense. The penalties are steeper for individuals who have a previous history of a drug conviction. In addition to fines, a convicted person will also be required to pay additional fees, costs and assessments.

What is the Penalty for Possession of Marijuana with the Intent to Distribute?

A person who possesses more than one ounce of marijuana but less than ten pounds of this drug can be charged with felony possession with the intent to distribute (PWID) in South Carolina. This crime can result in the following penalties:

  • Imprisonment up to 5 years
  • A fine up to $5,000

Selling marijuana within half a mile of a school or public park can add a $10,000 fine and up to ten years in prison.

What Is the Penalty for Simple Possession of Marijuana?

Simple possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor in South Carolina. It carries the following penalties:

  • First offense — Jail time up to 30 days; a fine between $100 and $200, plus costs, fees and assessments
  • Second offense — Jail time up to one year in jail; a fine between $200 and $1,000, plus costs, fees and assessments

First-time offenders can enter into a pre-trial intervention program or attend a drug abuse program in order to decrease their penalties.

A person who purchases marijuana within a half mile of a school or public park faces up to one year in jail and a fine up to $1,000, in addition to their other penalties.

How Can a South Carolina Drug Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer Help You?

Our lawyers are experienced and knowledgeable about representing individuals charged with drug crimes. We understand how South Carolina prosecutors often overreach and try to charge people with trafficking or distribution charges when they were not truly engaged in these activities. Through our complete investigation, we will help put up the best criminal defense and fight to protect your rights. With over 24 years of experience, we have the unique knowledge and skillsets to ensure the best representation at every stage of your case. Put simply, we always work to win for our clients.

What Are the Largest Counties and Courts for Criminal Cases in South Carolina?

Our lawyers are experienced and knowledgeable about representing individuals charged with drug crimes. We understand how South Carolina prosecutors often overreach and try to charge people with trafficking or distribution charges when they were not truly engaged in these activities. Through our complete investigation, we will help put up the best criminal defense and fight to protect your rights. With over 24 years of experience, we have the unique knowledge and skillsets to ensure the best representation at every stage of your case. Put simply, we always work to win for our clients.

Greenville County

Charleston County Circuit Court

100 Broad St. ,Ste. 106
Charleston, South Carolina 29401
(843) 958-5000
Judges: Deadra L. Jefferson, Roger M. Young, Sr.
Court clerk: Julie J. Armstrong
Court hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday

Charleston Municipal Court

180 Lockwood Blvd.
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 724-7460
List of Charleston Municipal Court Judges
Court Director: Lakesiya L. Cofield
Court Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Charleston County Magistrate Courts

Lonnie Hamilton, III Public Service Building
4045 Bridge View Drive, Ste. B143
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 202-6600
List of Charleston County Magistrates
Court Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Charleston County

Greenville County Circuit Court

305 E. North St.
Greenville, SC 29601
(864) 467-8551
Chief Magistrate: Mark C. Edmonds
List of other judges in Greenville County Circuit Court
Court Clerk: Paul B. Wickensimer
Court hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday

Greenville Municipal Court

426 N. Main St.
Greenville, SC 29601
(864) 467-6650
List of Greenville County Municipal Judges
Court Clerk: Pam Larson
Court Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Greenville Magistrate Court Map

Richland County

Richland County Circuit Court

1701 Main Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
(803) 576-1950
Chief Justice: Jean Hoefer Toal (retired)
Court clerk: Jeannette McBride
Court hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday

Richland County Magistrate Court

Central Court
2500 Decker Blvd.
Columbia, SC 29206
(803) 576-2300
Judge: Benjamin Franklin Byrd
Court Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Upper Township Magistrate

400 Northeast Dr. Ste. I
Columbia, SC 29203
(803) 576-2570
Chief Magistrate: Judge Timothy Clinton Edward
Court Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

What Are the Consequences of a Drug Crime Conviction in South Carolina?

In addition to the possibility of the terms of imprisonment and hefty fines discussed above, a conviction for a drug crime can have other significant effects on your life, such as the following:

  • Disqualification from public benefits programs
  • Ineligibility for financial aid, admission into college or entrance into certain educational programs
  • Immigration consequences, including the issuance of removal proceedings or the loss of your permanent resident status
  • A criminal record that follows you for the rest of your life
  • Ineligibility for public housing or rejections for rental applications
  • Negative effects on a child custody or visitation case

Our experienced South Carolina criminal defense legal team knows how important your freedom is and will fight to protect your rights to eliminate or mitigate the consequences of a conviction. The potential consequences of a conviction are life-altering, so it is crucial that you have the assistance of a skilled trial attorney who understands the nature of the charges against you and the high stakes that are involved.

The legal team at the Woods Law Firm will work closely with you to mount the best criminal defense possible, based on the particular circumstances of your case.

What Are the Possible Defenses to Drug Crimes in SC?

When individuals are accused of drug crimes in SC, they have certain rights and defenses that apply to their case. Our lead attorney Freddy Woods, associate attorneys and dedicated staff will thoroughly analyze the details of your case to identify defenses that apply. Defenses include:

The Search Was Not Legal

Police officers have to follow strict rules when it comes to searching a citizen’s home. Usually, they must have a warrant, but there are some exceptions such as when an emergency situation exists. Given the mobility of vehicles, there are fewer rules when searching a person’s vehicle, but this does not give the law enforcement officer an unfettered right to stop you for no reason and search your vehicle. If you didn’t give consent and the law enforcement officer didn’t follow the necessary rules, our legal team can work to exclude the drugs from evidence and have the charges dismissed against you.

The Drugs Didn’t Belong to You

It happens all the time – a roommate, partner, spouse or “friend” has drugs that a client never knew about but then the client is the one who is blamed for it and arrested. When you were not aware of the drugs and you had no control over them, you won’t meet the definition of possession and should not be held accountable for other’s actions.

Video Evidence Establishes a Defense

South Carolina law requires police to video record DUI stops. If law enforcement stopped you because they suspected you were driving under the influence while driving, the videotape might show your innocence, establish that you were not impaired or provide another defense that applies to your case.

Testing Was Inaccurate

Lab workers must follow specific guidelines when collecting samples and testing them for their content and concentration. If these rules were not properly followed, this is a defense to the charge. Our dedicated legal team can investigate the testing procedures to lodge the strongest criminal defense for your case. For example, lab workers have created scandals when they have certified that they tested drugs that they never did, such as the case of one worker’s actions that led to the dismissal of 20,000 cases.

The Chain of Custody Was Broken 

Police must follow strict guidelines from the moment that they take possession of a substance they suspect is drugs. When police don’t follow these guidelines and leave the evidence in a place where it can be tampered with or confused with other samples, this set of events establishes a defense based on a broken chain of custody.

How Can the Woods Law Firm Prepare a Strong Defense for Your South Carolina Drug Crimes Case?

We work quickly to protect your rights in order to minimize or eliminate the consequences of a conviction. By beginning your case immediately, we prevent police from interrogating you without your legal counsel present and prevent you from saying anything that may later be used against you. We also fight for more favorable outcomes for first-time offenders, such as requesting admission into a pre-trial intervention program or attendance in a drug abuse program. The excellent staff and criminal defense attorneys at the Woods Law Firm are dedicated to protecting your rights and your freedom. We are available 24/7 and can be reached through our office phone at (864) 298-8111, text us at (864) 810-0384 or thewoodsfirm@gmail.com.

If you have a legal emergency or a loved one or friend is in jail and you need immediate assistance anywhere in the state, please call us directly at (864) 810-0384.