South Carolina is tough on drug offenses, and possessing a modest quantity of an illegal material can leave you facing a possible jail term and substantial fines. Depending on the nature of your charges, the quantity of drugs involved, and how they were used or sold, you can also face federal charges, which tend to be even more severe. At the Michael Jeffcoat Firm, our Lexington criminal defense attorneys provide aggressive legal representation to protect your rights and freedoms when you have been charged with any type of crime. In the case of drug crimes in particular, we can help strategize your best course of defense to help avoid conviction and a jail sentence.
South Carolina Drug Offenses
Drug offenses including these materials contain the following:
- Drug Possession: Typically, includes small quantities of drugs which are found on your own person or property and are meant for private use;
- Possession With Intent to Distribute: This calls for bigger amounts which surpass what you might use, or those that are packaged in a manner as to demonstrate your intention to deliver the drugs to others.
- Drug Production: This entails being involved in the creation, preparation, and packaging or repackaging of drugs for sale or use by others.
- Drug Trafficking: Trafficking calls for substantial amounts of substances meant for distribution. As some of the most serious kinds of charges, you could face prosecution for drug trafficking on national and the state level.
Along with the preceding, drug offenses also include charges for possession of drug paraphernalia, for example scales, conduits, and needles. While these are usually considered more of a minor offense, the impact of a conviction can wreak havoc on your life, both now and later on, by preventing you from getting student loans, a home, or jobs.
Punishments Based on the Kind of Drug Involved
States take their cue from the federal government when developing guidelines and drug laws, the manner they classify these drugs is mostly the same, and while national and state laws differ in relation to punishments for drug offenses. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) records five programs under which most drugs fall under. Program I and II drugs, for example heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA present the biggest danger for misuse, and receive the severest sentences. The intention to spread bigger quantities is usually classified as a felony and carries a mandatory minimal jail term while straightforward possession may bring about misdemeanor charges. Under SC law, the South Carolina Judicial Department records punishments for a first violation for these drugs as the following:
- Possession of 28 grams or less: Up to 30 days’ incarceration and up to $200 in fines.
- Possession of an ounce or more: Presumed intention to distribute, up to 6 months’ incarceration and up to $1,000 in fines.
- Manufacturing and Intent to Distribute: Up to five years’ incarceration up to $5,000 in fines.
- Trafficking of 10 pounds or more: Required incarceration for anywhere between one and 25 years, determined by the sum, and fines up to $200,000.
- Possession of less than one gram: Up to three years’ incarceration, and fines up to $5,000.
- Possession of over a gram, Intent to Distribute or Manufacture: Required minimum term of 15 years, and fines of $25,000 or more.
- Trafficking: Required minimum 25 years imprisonment fines of up to $50,000.
Heroin and Cocaine:
- Straightforward possession of under ten grains of cocaine or diamorphine or under four grains: Up to two years’ incarceration and up to $5,000 in fines.
- Distribution, Possession With Intent to Distribute, or Manufacture: Up to 15 years incarceration and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Trafficking: Mandatory minimum jail sentence of up to eight to 25 years with a 40 year maximum sentence and up to $200,000 in fines.
Remember that these are the punishments for first-time offenders, and any previous convictions could double the punishments if you are convicted.
Federal Prosecution for Drug Offenses
In addition to facing state penalties for drug crimes, you could end up facing federal penalties as well if your charges involve large amounts of drugs that crossed state lanes, or if you were found to be working as part of a larger drug organization. Federal drug charges carry the most severe penalties and under DEA drug trafficking guidelines, include the following:
- For a first conviction on federal trafficking charges for heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, up to 40 years in federal prison and fines up to $25 million
- For another conviction on the federal level for the drugs that are preceding, there’s the potential raised fines up to $50 million and life in prison.
In addition to these fees, you’d be subject to national search and seizure laws permitting the authorities to confiscate any of your property and assets that can fairly be associated with the drug offense you’re accused of.
Legal Obligation For Drug Dealers
Along with fines and possible jail terms, you could additionally be facing legal obligation if convicted of selling a controlled substance which resulted in death or the harm of another. Under the South Carolina Drug Dealer Liability Act, you could be sued in civil court for property damages and medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering stemming from injuries that resulted from drugs you sold or distributed.Those who may have the right to damages through a claim under the Act contain:
- Parents, kids, and siblings of the involved user
- Employees of the single user
- Individuals injured under the effect of substances as the result of the activities of an individual user they were sold by you.
Contact Our Seasoned Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney Now
Lexington Lawyer Michael Jeffcoat has the wide-ranging legal knowledge professional understand how you need at a time like this. As a highly skilled member of the legal community, he can help you in strategizing a defense to assist you to prevent the serious punishments that result from these kinds of charges. Call our dedicated criminal defense lawyer in Charlotte today.
Mr. Jeffcoat, a native of the Columbia area, founded the law firm in 1999. Mr. Jeffcoat got his undergraduate degree at Wofford College in 1994, majoring in Political Economy and Philosophy, and then went to the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he received his J.D. in 1997. After working in two law firms following his graduation from law school, Jeffcoat ventured out on his own to launch The Jeffcoat Firm in March of 1999.