Available in: Español (Spanish)
The team at Touma Law Group is committed to aggressively defending your case whether it is a small possession charge or a large trafficking case. No matter the drug offense you are facing, we are on your side and committed to fighting tirelessly for you in order to achieve the best possible outcome.
We understand the wide range of consequences you may be worried about. Whether it is your family, your job, your income, or fear of jail time and fines we are here to support you. Contact our Columbia drug lawyers today to schedule your free initial consultation.
Common Types of Drug Charges
Drug crimes, minor or major, can seriously affect your future. In the state of South Carolina, there are many serious consequences for a guilty conviction of criminal charges involving illicit substances. From thousands of dollars in fines, prison time, and/or having your assets seized by the government, we at Touma Law Group understand the life-altering risks of a drug violation. For those reasons, we are committed to you and your future and are willing to go to bat for you. Here are some of the most common drug charges.
Actual or Constructive Possession of Drugs
Possession charges are generally designated for "smaller" amounts of drugs. There are two types of drug possession in SC. Actual possession and constructive possession. Actual possession is when the illegal drugs are found on your person, like in your pocket or hidden in your sock. In these cases, it is obvious the violator knew about the drugs.
Constructive possession is when drugs are found nearby to a person but could be argued they did not know the drugs were there. Like in your vehicle or in your yard. Constructive possession can be easier to argue against in court.
Possession With Intent to Distribute
You've probably heard the term "simple possession" before. Simple possession is for charges without any intent to sell. In SC, simple possession is reserved for amounts under specific weights and deemed small enough for personal use.
If the weight of drugs in possession is more than the amount deemed for personal use, you can be charged with Possession With Intent to Distribute (PWID) or worse drug trafficking. The threshold amount is different for each substance and its schedule classification. PWID can also be charged if evidence of selling is found. Evidence could include weighing scales, bookkeeping, bags, or other sales paraphernalia.
A criminal defense attorney may be able to reduce your PWID to simple possession.
Drug trafficking charges can be applied to cases that involve manufacturing, distributing, importing/exporting, or possessing a "large quantity" of an illicit substance. Trafficking charges always carry a minimum prison sentence, but enhanced penalties can befall you depending on the type of illegal drug, the amount of drugs, and the number of prior offenses.
Driving Under the Influence is also a drug crime. Whether you are driving over the legal limit or with illicit substances in your system, you are violating drug laws. If you have further questions about a DUI charge, click here to learn more.
When is a Drug Charge a Felony?
The penalties for drug crimes vary greatly in the state of South Carolina depending mostly on the amount of drugs in possession and the number of prior offenses. South Carolina also divides controlled substances into "Schedules" or different categories based on the perceived danger of the drug. Here is a quick guide to the severity of various drug crime charges.
Most first offense simple possession charges (remember that's an amount deemed small enough for personal use) of Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V drugs carry a misdemeanor charge. Misdemeanor possession may sound like a light punishment, but many of these offenses still carry minimum prison time and/or hefty fines. Simple possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor even after the first offense. However, second offenses of simple possession of most other controlled substances become a felony.
Manufacturing, Distribution, or Possession With Intent
A criminal conviction of the manufacturing, distribution, or possession with intent of a Schedule I, II, or III substance is a felony. Possession with "intent" includes intent to distribute or intent to commit violent crimes against a person such as "dosing" someone with the intent to sexually assault.
The manufacturing, distribution, or possession with intent of a Schedule IV or V substance is a misdemeanor on the first offense.
Again, the applicable penalties depend on the type and amount of drugs in your possession. For example, a PWID of marijuana can carry up to 5 years in prison for the first offense and a PWID of cocaine can carry up to 10 years in prison for the first offense. Second and third offenses only increase the amount of jail time and fines associated with these criminal offenses.
Drug trafficking is the most serious drug crime in South Carolina and is always a felony no matter your record. As with the other criminal drug violations, the criminal penalties increase with the amount and kind of substances in possession and the number of prior drug offenses.
For more information please visit check out the South Carolina Drug Statutes or speak to one of our knowledgable drug defense attorneys.
Can Police Search You for Drugs Without a Warrant?
It's important to know your rights when it comes to police searches. In SC, there are several reasons police may search you without a warrant. Here are some of the most common.
- Probable Cause: If you have been pulled over and the police find a reason to suspect you may have drugs on your person or in your vehicle, they may search without a warrant. Reasons could include something like suspicion of DUI or the smell of marijuana.
- Consent: If an officer asks to search your vehicle and you give them the okay, you have consented to a search.
- Plain View: If you have an illegal substance, paraphernalia, or weapons in plain view during your interaction with law enforcement, they have the right to search you and the area.
- Arrest: If you are placed under arrest an officer has the right to search your person and your vehicle.
- Officer Safety: If an officer is in fear for their safety, they may choose to search you to ensure there are no weapons intended to harm them.
Why You Should Hire a Lawyer for a Drug Charge
As you can see drug charges carry costly penalties whether they are a misdemeanor or a felony drug conviction. The legal process is confusing and difficult to navigate on your own. But good news! You don't have to do it alone.
Our Columbia criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to you and helping you achieve the best possible outcome. At Touma Law Group we are always finding ways to reduce your charges, lighten your sentencing or get charges dropped altogether. We stick by your side through the entire process and will help develop the best defense strategy for your individual case. Contact us today to get started!