In South Carolina, possession with intent to distribute (PWID) drug charges are more severe than simple possession charges. The criminal penalties for possession with intent to distribute drugs in Greenville, South Carolina are more severe than the potential penalties for simple possession but they're less severe than the criminal penalties for drug trafficking. However, the potential penalties for possession with intent to distribute drugs are exactly the same as those for drug manufacturing or drug distribution charges.
At Touma Law Group, our skilled criminal defense lawyers have defended people who have been charged with drugged driving and other drug crimes and we can help you beat your charges and avoid them from going into your criminal record. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our experienced Greenville criminal defense lawyers today at (864) 618-2323.
Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs in South Carolina
Police officers usually charge a person with possession with intent to distribute an illicit drug when the amount of drugs allegedly found on the person, their residence, or a vehicle is more than the “threshold weight,” which varies depending on the type of drug.
Typically, possession with intent to distribute charge means the same thing as a simple possession charge, with an added aspect of intent to distribute. Thus, if a police officer can prove that you intended to distribute the drugs, then you'll receive the same potential sentence as if you were selling the drugs.
How Do You Prove Intent to Distribute?
The amount of the drugs alone isn't sufficient evidence to warrant a PWID conviction – the prosecution must prove that you had the intent to distribute the drugs. While this can be proven by the weight of the drugs, you and your Greenville criminal lawyer can argue that you never had the intention to distribute the drugs. If, for instance, the drugs were intended for personal use, the drug charge against you will be simple possession and not a PWID charge.
Other evidence can also prove intent to distribute drugs, such as witness testimony, your statements, the way the drugs were packaged, or the presence of scales, baggies, ledgers, or other “sales paraphernalia.”
Also, a person may be charged with a simple possession charge instead of possession with intent to distribute if the prosecutor can't prove intent to distribute the drugs. Law enforcement officers will sometimes arrest a person for PWID even though the drugs weigh less than the threshold weight if there's additional evidence of an intent to distribute. A criminal drug defense attorney can help you prove you had no intent to distribute drugs.
What are PWID Charge Thresholds and Criminal Penalties in SC?
Simple possession isn't likely to be classified as a felony offense, unless the drug offender is on a 3rd offense or subsequent offense or if there are other factors considered in the case. For example, if the alleged offender has previous drug charges, the judge may bump a simple possession charge up to a felony offense.
Every dangerous substance discussed has a threshold weight at which the drug charge becomes a felony trafficking charge. Often possession with Intent in SC is a felony charge. You can be charged with PWID for possession of a significant amount of any illicit drug or controlled substance with no authorization, but these are the most common substances as laid out in the South Carolina Code of Law:
- Marijuana. This is the most common illicit drug dealt at the street level in almost every state. Although the use of marijuana is legal in some states in the United States, in South Carolina it's still unlawful to manufacture, possess, transport, or distribute marijuana for any purpose. A PWID charge with marijuana possession is a felony drug charge in SC. Over one ounce of marijuana but less than 10 ounces of marijuana results in:
- 1st offense results in 0-5 years imprisonment and/or a heavy fine of $0-5k.
- A 2nd offense results in 0-10 years of jail time and/or a hefty fine of $0-10k.
- A 3rd and subsequent offenses result in 5-20 years of jail sentence and/or a heavy fine of $0-20k.
- Powder cocaine or crack cocaine. Unlike some states, South Carolina lacks different criminal penalties for powder and crack cocaine, meaning the two substances are essentially the same. Federally, powder cocaine and crack cocaine are treated differently under federal law. In South Carolina, PWID with powder or crack cocaine is a felony offense. Here are the drug weight thresholds and criminal penalties for each level of PWID. Over 1 gram, but less than 28 grams results in:
- A 1st offense results in 0-15 years and/or a heavy fine of $0-25k
- A 2nd offense results in 5-30 years incarceration and/or a monetary fine of $0-50k
- A 3rd and subsequent offenses result in 10-30 years in jail and/or a monetary fine of $0-50k
No matter the details of your case whether you had a quantity of a drug that was only slightly above the legal threshold for PWID or way over, whether it was your first offense, second offense, or fifth offense, you need to have an experienced criminal attorney by your side.
At Touma Law Group, we’ve helped many people navigate the court system under allegations of various serious drug charges. If you or a loved one have been accused of PWID in Greenville, South Carolina, contact our criminal defense law firm today at (864) 618-2323.
Simple Possession Charges in South Carolina by Drug Type
Possession of even small amounts of marijuana is against the law in South Carolina, and law enforcement officers will often arrest you for it. What is simple possession of marijuana in SC and what are the potential penalties if you are convicted of it?
SC Code Section 44-53-370 (d) (4) makes simple possession of marijuana a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 30 days in jail for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana:
Anyone who violates this subsection regarding one ounce or less of marijuana or ten grams or less of hashish oil is guilty of a misdemeanor offense and after conviction, they must face a mandatory maximum sentence of thirty days in jail or pay a fine of $1,000-$2,000.
A 2nd offense for simple possession of marijuana, including the shake of a baggie or a leftover roach in the ashtray, is punishable with one year in jail in South Carolina.
1st offense possession of cocaine in South Carolina is a misdemeanor criminal charge punishable by up to three years in prison, and 3rd offense for simple possession of cocaine can carry as much as ten years in prison.
Be Prepared: Do I Need a Lawyer for Drug Charges?
How Can a Criminal Law Attorney Help?
We can’t speak for other criminal defense lawyers, but at Touma Law Group we do many things to help those facing drug charges. Our criminal defense team will consult with you at the start so you know your legal options and we'll answer your questions throughout the entire legal process. We’ll get all the evidence the prosecutor has against you and our legal experts will look for other evidence that might help your case.
We will review the lab reports and other evidence and look for ways to challenge them. Our criminal defense attorneys are knowledgeable about the laws relating to drug crimes and sentencing. We will represent you at every stage of the legal proceeding, including the preliminary hearing and court trial, and we’ll fiercely advocate to get you the best outcome we can get under the circumstances.
If you’ve been charged with a drug-related crime in South Carolina, contact the Greenville drug charge attorneys at Touma Law Group for your free initial consultation.