Possession of a controlled substance in SC can be a serious matter.

Drug possession can carry a range of penalties and there may be a wide range of defenses to your drug charges, depending on the type of drug, your prior criminal history, and the circumstances of your arrest.

Below, we will discuss some of the more common types of drug possession charges in SC, what the potential penalties are, and what the threshold amounts are for a drug offense to be considered simple possession instead of possession with intent to distribute or trafficking.

Possession of Controlled Substances in SC

Drug possession charges in SC are based on the weight of the drugs allegedly found. There is a “cut-off” point, or threshold amount, for each type of drug, and if the drugs found weigh less than that amount, the charge is presumptively simple possession, as opposed to possession with intent to distribute or drug trafficking.

In some cases, police may charge a person with possession with intent to distribute even though the drugs weighed less than the threshold amount, but they must have some additional evidence that you intended to distribute the drugs.

What are some of the more common charges for possession of a controlled substance in SC?

Possession Charges in SC by Drug Type

Possession of Marijuana

Possession of even small amounts of marijuana is still illegal in SC, and police will often take you to jail for it. What is simple possession of marijuana in SC and what are the potential penalties if you are convicted of it?

Simple Possession of Marijuana

SC Code Section 44-53-370(d)(4) makes it a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail to possess 28 grams (one ounce) or less of marijuana:

A person who violates this subsection with respect to twenty-eight grams or one ounce or less of marijuana or ten grams or less of hashish is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than thirty days or fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than two hundred dollars.

A second offense for simple possession of marijuana – which could be some shake in the bottom of a baggie or a leftover roach in the ashtray – carries as much as one year in prison in SC.

Possession of Cocaine

First offense possession of cocaine in SC, found in SC Code Section 44-53-370(d)(3)  is a misdemeanor punishable by up to three years in prison, and simple possession of cocaine can carry as much as ten years in prison if it is a third offense or greater:

(3) cocaine is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than three years or fined not more than five thousand dollars, or both.

For a first offense, the court, upon approval of the solicitor, may require as part of a sentence, that the offender enter and successfully complete a drug treatment and rehabilitation program.

For a second offense, the offender is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than seven thousand five hundred dollars, or both.

For a third or subsequent offense, the offender is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than ten years or fined not more than twelve thousand five hundred dollars, or both.

Simple possession of cocaine or possession of cocaine base (crack cocaine) in SC is defined as having less than one gram of the drug.

Possession of Cocaine Base (Crack Cocaine)

Crack cocaine used to carry a harsher penalty than powder cocaine in SC, but the law has been changed so that each offense carries the same potential penalties.

Found in SC Code Section 44-53-375, possession of less than one gram of crack cocaine or cocaine base in SC carries a potential sentence of up to three years in prison for a first offense and as much as ten years in prison for a third offense.

Possession of Methamphetamine

Drug charges for possession of methamphetamines (meth) carry the same potential penalties as powder cocaine or crack cocaine (see above), and one gram or less is considered simple possession under SC law.

Possession of Heroin

Heroin possession in SC is covered by SC Code Section 44-53-370(d)(1), and it carries a potential penalty of up to two years in prison for a first offense and as much as five years in prison for a second or subsequent offense:

1) a controlled substance classified in Schedule I (b) and (c) which is a narcotic drug or lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and in Schedule II which is a narcotic drug is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than five thousand dollars, or both.

For a second offense, the offender is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than five thousand dollars, or both.

For a third or subsequent offense, the offender is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than ten thousand dollars, or both.

The threshold amount for simple possession of heroin is much lower than other types of drugs, however. Possession of an amount greater than two grains (grains, not grams) is usually charged as possession with intent to distribute, which carries greater penalties.

Possession of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a more potent form of heroin that has drawn increasing attention from lawmakers due to its potential for overdoses.

Because fentanyl is so potent, it may be mixed with heroin by dealers so that their product is 1) stronger and 2) goes further (more product, more money). The drawback, however, is that people all over America are dying from fentanyl overdoses…

Fentanyl possession is currently treated the same as heroin under SC law (see above), and carries a potential sentence of up to two years in prison for a first offense or up to five years in prison for a third or subsequent offense. This may change, however, as the SC legislature considers whether higher penalties for fentanyl possession or fentanyl trafficking are appropriate due to the danger it poses.

Possession of MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly)

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also known as ecstasy or Molly, is a fairly common “party drug” that is covered by 44-53-370(d)(2). Although it is a Schedule I drug, it is not narcotic and so carries lesser penalties than possession of heroin or fentanyl, with penalties of up to six months in prison for a first offense or up to one year for a second or subsequent offense:

(2) any other controlled substance classified in Schedules I through V is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than six months or fined not more than one thousand dollars, or both.

For a second or subsequent offense, the offender is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than two thousand dollars, or both, except as provided in subsection (d)(4).

Simple possession of MDMA or ecstasy is defined as possession of less than 15 tablets – possession of more than 15 tablets may be charged as possession with intent to distribute or trafficking in MDMA and will carry a longer potential sentence.

A lot of  MDMA/Molly on the streets are laced with or are primarily Meth and as a result when the drugs come back from the lab many times what a person thinks is MDMA is actually meth and results in higher penalties.

Possession of Schedule I-V Narcotic and Non-Narcotic Drugs without a Prescription

Schedule I and Schedule II narcotic drugs, like heroin or fentanyl, are covered above and carry a potential sentence of up to two years in prison for a first offense and up to five years for a third or subsequent offense.

Possession of most non-narcotic prescription drugs (without a prescription) falls under the same code section as MDMA (above) and carries a potential sentence of up to six months in jail on a first offense.

Facing Drug Possession Charges in South Carolina?

If you or your loved one are facing charges for possession of a controlled substance in SC, or any other criminal charges the Attorneys of Templeton Mims & Ward are here to help. Our drug defense lawyers experience in criminal defense will help to make sure that you get the best possible results in your case.

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