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Meth is an addictive drug and is considered to be a dangerous substance. Possession of meth in South Carolina is a serious drug offense, and individuals convicted of possessing meth may face severe penalties including hefty fines and mandatory sentences in jail.
If you are facing possession of meth charges in South Carolina, it's essential that you consult with an experienced drug crime attorney to understand your rights and create a solid legal defense for you. Contact Touma Law Group today for a complimentary consultation.
Our team of drug possession attorneys will develop a strong defense case for your meth charge case to ensure fair treatment within the legal system and make sure that you maintain all your rights.
What is Possession of Meth?
Meth-related crimes are considered serious criminal offenses in the state of South Carolina. Methamphetamine has become the most seized type of drug, surpassing cocaine as the preferred choice for many people involved in illegal substance activities. If accused of having possession of meth, the state has to prove that you possessed less than one gram of meth for it to not be a trafficking charge.
Possession itself can either be actual possession or constructive possession; this involves having access to drugs or being able to control them. The consequences associated with the offense of possession of methamphetamine are severe.
In many cases, law enforcement will use search warrants or surveillance equipment employed by an undercover officer working on the street when trying to establish possession of meth by an individual. This makes it vital for anyone facing these charges to seek out experienced legal representation immediately so their rights stay protected and the options concerning their case are fully explored.
What Happens If I Face Simple Meth Possession Charges?
According to South Carolina Code Section 44-53-375 (A), if you are in possession of less than 1 gram of meth, you may face legal consequences outlined in the "simple possession" section of the law. However, if you are suspected that you have possession with intent to distribute or traffic meth, you will likely receive additional charges.
A 1st offense of "simple meth possession" can lead to a misdemeanor and potential penalties including up to a three-year term of imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000. If you are caught with meth for the second time, it is now considered a felony charge and you may receive a jail sentence of up to 5 years and a fine of $7,500. If you are caught three or more times with a simple possession charge, you can receive up to 10 years in prison and $12,500. However, if you have more than 1 gram of meth on you, the penalties will increase drastically.
Why You Should Fight a Simple Possession Charge
It is important to take simple possession charges seriously because a conviction can have long-lasting consequences on one's personal and professional life. Beyond the punishments prescribed by law, such as fines or jail time, a conviction can affect your home life, in terms of access to your children or other family members, as well as your work life.
A simple possession charge appearing on your criminal record can lead to difficult job searches in the future due to potential employers being hesitant to hire someone with a criminal record. Similarly, if you were receiving federal aid at the time of the offense, having the charge appear on your criminal background check may cause you to become ineligible for future assistance.
Furthermore, regardless of what type of crime you were charged with, any conviction will factor into how many prior offenses you have should you acquire any future subsequent offenses. Multiple drug convictions will carry heavier sentences than just one or two offenses. Therefore, it is wise to consult with an attorney regarding strategies for fighting such charges.
Manufacturing Meth or Possession with Intent to Distribute
Production of meth can hold possession with intent to distribute (PWID) is a serious felony charge in South Carolina. If a person is found in possession of more than one gram of crystal meth, then this is considered prima facie evidence of PWID. This means that the prosecution no longer has to prove intent; the burden shifts to the defense to prove that there was no intent.
SC Code 44-53-375 (B) not only covers possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, but it also encompasses manufacturing or any possession of ingredients needed with the intention to make meth. Just like most PWID charges across different states, all offenses within SC Code 44-53-375 (B) result in a felony offense for possession of meth, with potential penalties including up to fifteen years imprisonment and fines ranging from $2,000 - $25,000.
What Are Some Meth Paraphernalia?
Possession of drug paraphernalia is considered a separate offense from a drug charge in South Carolina and is classified as a misdemeanor. Drug paraphernalia refers to any item that can be utilized in conjunction with illegal drugs.
Drug paraphernalia is classified into two main categories: those for drug distribution and those for drug ingestion. This distinction can be significant for individuals who are facing drug paraphernalia charges, particularly because everyday household items like scales or spoons can also be utilized in the distribution or consumption of illegal drugs.
Meth is often made in hazardous home laboratories, which can put innocent bystanders at risk. The manufacturing of meth requires certain chemicals and paraphernalia used in the manufacturing process that are also deemed illegal to possess.
The chemicals and ingredients in methamphetamine typically include materials such as ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, solvents like acetone, various acids and alcohols, and volatile gasses such as anhydrous ammonia. The purchase of these items may raise the suspicion of authorities, so obtaining them is difficult. It is important to be aware of the possession of these chemicals which could lead to criminal charges for attempting to create methamphetamines. If authorities find Methamphetamine manufacturing waste or narcotic ingredients in your possession, you could face consequences.
What is Considered a Drug Trafficking Charge?
Because meth is considered a dangerous drug, there are many penalties for drug trafficking in South Carolina. You may receive severe consequences if the drug weight in your possession is more than 1 gram. To calculate the criminal offense charge, the drug weight and number of subsequent violations are taken into consideration.
- 1st offense: minimum prison sentence of 3-10 years and a fine of $25,000.
- 2nd offense: jail sentence of 5-30 years and a fine of $50,000
- 3rd and subsequent offenses - jail sentence of 25-30 years and a fine of $50,000
- 1st offense - jail time of 7-25 years and a fine of $50,000.
- 2nd offense - jail time of 7-30 years and a fine of $50,000.
- 3rd and subsequent violation - jail time of 10-30 years and a fine of $50,000
Regardless of your prior offenses, if you are found with over 200 grams of meth, the consequences remain the same. The consequences are severe and stringent. Possessing 200-400 grams of methamphetamine carries a minimum sentence of twenty-five years in jail and a $100,000 fine.
Possession of over 400 g of methamphetamine in South Carolina can result in a prison sentence of 25-30 years or more, along with a fine of $200,000. Trafficking charges for meth do not qualify for parole or probation.
How Can I Defend Against Meth Charges?
Having to face charges related to using or possessing methamphetamine is a serious matter, and it can have severe ramifications for your future. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to get the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Defense attorneys understand the nuances of drug cases and how meth cases are typically treated. In some situations, there may be options available that can help alleviate charges or even lead to a dismissal. For instance, a first-time offense could be negotiated with the prosecution for either an outright dismissal of their case or a reduction in the penalties they face. This could include participation in appropriate drug treatment programs, rehabilitation programs, and/or community service hours.
That being said, more serious charges such as the distribution or trafficking of methamphetamines are much more difficult to handle on your own. In these cases, your chances of avoiding hefty fines and prison sentences will diminish. An experienced lawyer will often understand what tactics need to be employed when negotiating with prosecutors on behalf of their clients–such as plea bargaining arrangements that can result in reduced charges or more lenient sentencing guidelines.
Speak to a Skilled Drug Defense Lawyer Now!
Because meth is considered a dangerous substance, the consequences are severe. If you or someone you know has been accused of possession of meth in South Carolina, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. A skilled defense lawyer will be able to review your drug conviction and provide guidance on the best course of action.
Contact Touma Law Group today for a free consultation. One of our experienced criminal defense attorneys will analyze and evaluate your specific case and they can provide advice on how to protect your rights, evaluate the evidence against you, and help build a strong defense strategy.