How to Approach a Marijuana Possession Charge
Being charged with marijuana possession in South Carolina can be frightening. You might wonder what you should do next and how your choices will affect your future. You do not have to face this alone.
In 2019, marijuana-related violations accounted for the highest number of arrests nationwide for possession compared to other drugs. While many states have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use, the penalties in South Carolina remain strict. It’s essential to understand how the details of your case can affect the penalties you might face.
What Is Possession of Marijuana?
A person can be charged with marijuana possession in South Carolina if they are found with less than an ounce of marijuana. Marijuana possession is a misdemeanor charge, and the penalties depend on whether there were previous offenses. For a first offense, you may face up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $200 plus court costs.
For subsequent possession charges, you may face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 plus court costs. Amounts greater than one ounce will result in a felony charge for the sale of marijuana.
Should I Plead Guilty?
You might wonder if it’s easier to plead guilty, pay the price for the conviction, and move on with your life. This could seem reasonable, especially if this is your first offense. However, if you take this path, you will have a criminal conviction for a drug offense on your record. This can negatively affect your reputation and your ability to obtain work in the future. You should not plead guilty before speaking with a criminal defense attorney about your options.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
A criminal conviction on your record can impact your life for many years. You need to maximize your odds of obtaining the most favorable outcome in this situation. An experienced criminal defense attorney can examine all the facts in your case to build a strong defense for you. They will analyze the details of your arrest to look for ways to get your charges reduced or dropped potentially. A defense attorney can also guide you through the legal process each step of the way. They will be able to help you avoid doing or saying anything that may be incriminating and hurt your case.
Defending Against a Marijuana Possession Charge
Just because you’ve been charged with possession does not automatically mean that you will be convicted. It may be that law enforcement violated your rights during your arrest. This can occur in multiple ways, such as officers:
- Lacking probable cause to perform a search
- Performing a search of a vehicle without consent
- Lacking a valid search warrant
- Using coercion to obtain a confession
If you are the victim of an unlawful search, such as a search of your car without your consent, and the search revealed that marijuana was present, this is not the same thing as a guilty verdict. Searches of this type are relatively common. However, any evidence that was obtained this way is not admissible in court.
Law enforcement must also establish a chain of custody showing how any evidence in your case was handled. This begins when evidence is first obtained and runs through testing and all the way through trial. If the chain of custody was not maintained, or if there are inconsistencies, this can be used as a defense against your charge.
Each case is unique and depends on many factors. An experienced defense attorney will examine the details and circumstances of your case. You may have an opportunity for a diversionary program. If you successfully complete this program, the possession charge won’t show up on your record.
Your lawyer can also advise you on ways you may be able to avoid jail time.
Contact a Compassionate Truslow & Truslow Attorney Now
If you are facing a marijuana possession charge, you need to speak with an experienced defense attorney today. Your rights, your reputation, and your future are all on the line. Don’t suffer through this traumatic period in your life on your own. Call us today at (803) 256-6276 to talk with a Columbia drug crimes attorney from Truslow & Truslow. Our attorneys are ready to discuss your case with you during a confidential consultation.