The most common drug offenses that we handle are possession charges. In most situations, you either have an outstanding warrant, or police are conducting a search where they find drugs. We commonly see methamphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, or pills.
How Are Drug Charges Determined To Be Either Misdemeanor Or A Felony?
The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is the amount of narcotics or how many offenses the person has. A simple possession of marijuana is the lowest level misdemeanor charge. Possession of meth is an upper level misdemeanor.
What Is An Unlawful Controlled Substance?
An unlawful controlled substance is anything that the federal government has deemed to be something that they need to control. The federal government has made a schedule of substances that they don’t want just to be readily available to the general public. For instance, a Schedule I controlled substance is going to have no medical benefit at all, as determined by the federal government. Technically, marijuana is one of those as a Schedule I. When you get into Schedule IV, it’s a controlled substance that the person needs a prescription from a doctor before they can have possession of it.
How Is Possession, Sale And Distribution Of Drugs Defined In South Carolina?
Possession is normally for personal use. If somebody has a substance, but it’s such a small amount that it’s more likely that they are just using it themselves, it is a possession charge. When you have a higher amount, then it moves into the realm of distribution, possession with the intent to distribute, or trafficking. When it comes to meth, if you get caught with all the accouchements of methamphetamine, then you can be charged with the manufacturing. If the substance is coupled with large amounts of money, the scales, and baggies, that bring it from the realm of possession to possession with the intent to distribute.
Trafficking involves a criminal organization that’s distributing narcotics.
Are There Any Laws Addressing Drug Paraphernalia In South Carolina?
Drug paraphernalia is a civil penalty in South Carolina, and is punishable up to a $500 fine. It’s not a criminal offense anymore.
Can Police Execute A Warrantless Search If They Suspect A Drug Offense?
Yes, the police can execute a warrantless search if they suspect a drug offense, and this is fairly common. Usually what happens is the police come up to a car, they smell marijuana, and they pull you out because of the smell. They have probable cause, and that’s part of searching. They might try to get your consent, but there are also other things that can allow them to search the car whether or not we agree to it. For example, if you have been driving with a warrant out for your arrest, the police officer can arrest you, and now the officers can do an inventory search to make sure the person has all their property when they get out of jail.
At that point, if they find drugs, the police can charge you with other things. If the items, scales, baggies, or large amounts of money are laying in plain view, or the narcotics or the drugs themselves are laying plain view, then they can start searching the other parts of the car. If they are issuing a warrant for your arrest, and they come to the house and find you inside the house. If they see something in plain view, they can search. Additionally, if there are exigent circumstances, such as the evidence is likely to be destroyed, then they have probable cause to go and search to make sure that you’re not destroying evidence.
Can A Passenger Be Charged If Drugs Are Discovered In The Vehicle?
A passenger can be charged if drugs are in the vehicle. As frustrating as it is, sometimes the passenger doesn’t know what is going on with the driver, and maybe they stuffed something underneath the passenger seat when you don’t know it’s there. The police come and they do a search of the car, they find the stash under the passenger seat. Because that passenger had constructive possession of that area, then they could be charged with it as well.
Are There Any Alternative Programs Available For Drug Offenders In South Carolina?
Yes, there are alternative programs available for drug offenders. There is also pre-trial intervention, which is where you go through some classes, and eventually your case will be dismissed and expunged if you successfully complete it. There is also drug court, where if you complete it, your case can be dismissed or expunged. There is also something called a conditional discharge for small amounts of a substance, where you’re on a probationary sentence for a year. If you complete it and don’t have any other problems, then the court will dismiss it.
For more information on Drug Offenses In South Carolina an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (864) 372-2896 today.
Greenville Defense Attorney
Aaron De Bruin
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De Bruin Law Firm, LLC – Aaron De Bruin Criminal Defense