If you were arrested or charged with possession of a controlled substance, you should have an experienced legal team on your side to represent you in court. The South Carolina drug crimes lawyers of Truslow & Truslow have over 60 years of experience defending clients against the charges they face.
Drug possession is a serious offense in South Carolina. The penalty can range from a small fine to a prison sentence. Sentencing depends on the type and amount of controlled substance found in a person’s possession. Even simple possession of a small amount of marijuana can result in jail time. Although most states have decriminalized the possession and use of medical marijuana, South Carolina is not one of them.
At Truslow & Truslow, we understand the overwhelming responsibility of preparing a case to defend yourself following an arrest. It can be a scary experience when you don’t know what will happen next and whether a jury will convict you. The ramifications of a drug possession conviction can be far-reaching and affect every part of your life.
Our South Carolina drug possession lawyers are ready to help you fight the charges against you. You can depend on us to develop the right legal strategy to try to reach your desired outcome. Call us at (803) 590-6688 right now for a confidential consultation and learn more about how our defense team can help.
In Possession of a Controlled Substance?
The next element the prosecution must prove is that you were in possession of the controlled substance in question. It might be difficult for your defense attorney to argue that you didn’t possess a controlled substance if you had a prescription drug in someone else’s name on your person at the time of your arrest.
However, proving someone possesses a controlled substance can become a challenge when considering what the terms “possession” and “controlled substance” mean.
Possession includes physical possession and constructive possession. Physical possession means someone has drugs on their person. With constructive possession, the drug does not have to be on your person when law enforcement discovers it. For example, if you’re standing in front of your house while the officer searches your home and they find a stash of drugs in your bedroom, they could argue you are in constructive possession even though you’re not physically close to the drugs.
It’s common for law enforcement to jump to conclusions when they find what they believe to be a controlled substance on someone’s person or in their home or motor vehicle. The officer could mistake a prescription you’re carrying for an illegal narcotic. If the drug in question was never tested, the prosecutor won’t be able to meet their burden of proof to show you possessed a controlled substance.
Did Not Have a Doctor’s Order or Valid Prescription
Although South Carolina does not allow possession of medical marijuana, there are various other drugs you could legally possess with a prescription or order from a healthcare professional. If an officer arrested you because they believed you didn’t obtain the pills in your possession legally, you would simply have to obtain a copy of the doctor’s order or prescription.
If you face drug possession charges, do not hesitate to contact Truslow & Truslow. One of our South Carolina drug possession lawyers can meet with you for a confidential consultation to discuss your case. We will protect your rights and fight to secure your freedom and future.
Call us at (803) 590-6688 right now.
South Carolina Law – Possession of a Controlled Substance
According to South Carolina statute 44-53-370(c), it is illegal for any person to intentionally or knowingly possess a controlled substance unless the individual obtained the substance with a valid order or prescription or directly from a healthcare professional carrying out their professional duties.
The prosecution must prove these three elements of drug possession to secure a conviction against you.
Acted Knowingly and Intentionally
Possessing a drug does not necessarily mean you are guilty of drug possession. There must be evidence that you intentionally or knowingly possessed the controlled substance.
The burden of proof falls on the prosecution. Presenting evidence of a person’s intent and knowledge can be a challenge. It’s unlikely a jury will find you guilty if the prosecutor can’t show proof that you were intentionally in possession of or knew about the drugs.
A common example of lack of intent and knowledge is dropping a friend off at home. A bag of marijuana falls out of their pocket as they get out of the car. After driving away, the driver gets pulled over, and the officer finds the marijuana under the passenger seat. Although the driver possesses the marijuana, they are not intentionally or knowingly in possession.
South Carolina Sentencing for Drug Possession
Possession of a controlled substance can be a misdemeanor or felony offense. It depends on the type of controlled substance and the amount found in your possession. The sentencing guidelines based on each type of controlled substance are as follows:
Simple Possession of Marijuana
Possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor, punishable by:
- No more than a $200 fine
- Up to 30 days in jail
You could face up to one year in jail if convicted of a second offense of simple possession of marijuana.
Possession of Methamphetamine, Cocaine, and Crack Cocaine
The penalty for a first offense of possession of less than one ounce of methamphetamine, cocaine, or crack cocaine include:
- Up to a $5,000 fine
- Maximum of three years in prison
Sentencing is a bit harsher if it’s the second or third offense. Both are felony charges and can result in these penalties:
- Second offense – Up to five years in prison and no more than a $7,500 fine
- Third offense – Up to ten years in prison and a maximum of a $12,500 fine
Possession of Heroin or Fentanyl
Heroin or fentanyl possession is a misdemeanor with a penalty of:
- Up to two years in prison
- A maximum of a $5,000 fine
A second offense of possession of heroin or fentanyl is a felony punishable by:
- Up to five years in prison
- No more than a $5,000 fine
A third or subsequent offense can lead to a sentence of:
- A maximum of five-year imprisonment
- Up to a $10,000 fine
Possession of a Drug without a Prescription
Possessing a controlled substance without a doctor’s order or prescription is a misdemeanor crime. The penalties for a first offense include:
- Up to six months in jail
- No more than a $1,000 fine
A second or subsequent offense is also a misdemeanor but can result in a higher sentence, such as:
- A maximum of one year in prison
- Up to a $2,000 fine