After being charged with possession of marijuana, you may be wondering what to expect and what legal options you might have. Many people are under the impression that marijuana charges are minor offenses and will result in a small fine, at most. Despite the rising tide of marijuana legalization in states throughout the country, South Carolina continues to enforce statutes with relatively severe penalties for cannabis possession.
In addition, the Controlled Substances Act prohibits marijuana possession on a federal level. Courts in the Columbia area prosecute these cases aggressively. Prosecutors tend to push for criminal fines, jail time, and other serious penalties. If you or someone close to you has been charged with marijuana possession, an experienced Columbia drug crime attorney can help you through these difficult circumstances.
Recently, the national trend has been going toward decriminalizing and legalizing cannabis at the state level. As of 2019, 11 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational use, while 33 states allow marijuana for medical use. These increasingly-lax regulations in other states have led many in South Carolina to believe that police officers and courts no longer rigorously enforce laws against possessing marijuana. Unfortunately, this is simply not true.
According to Title 44, Chapter 53 of South Carolina’s code of laws, possession of any amount of marijuana can result in both a fine and/or jail time. For possession under an ounce (28 grams), first-time violators can be fined a maximum fine of $200 plus court costs and a maximum thirty days of jail time.
A second offense can result in a fine of up to $2,000, court costs, and jail time of up to one year. Although these misdemeanor charges may seem minor in comparison to the penalties for other crimes, a conviction can wreak havoc on the defendant’s personal and professional life.
The punishments become more severe as on the amount of marijuana cited in the charge increases. If you are found with more than one ounce, you will likely be charged with trafficking or intent to distribute, even if the marijuana was for personal use.
Possession of more than an ounce of marijuana almost always leads to felony charges. Convictions involving less than ten pounds but more than an ounce can lead to up to five years in jail and a fine of $5,000. If between 10 and 100 pounds are found, the maximum jail time becomes 25 years, and the maximum fine rises to $25,000.
Cultivation of any number of live marijuana plants is a felony. Maximum jail time for less than 100 plants is five years, but this maximum increases to 25 years for more plants. Cases involving larger amounts of marijuana tend to carry additional charges and higher sentences, and they can often become quite complex.
A trained and knowledgeable Columbia area drug crime attorney can perform a thorough investigation into all the facts of your case and use their extensive knowledge and experience with these kinds of cases to avoid harsh sentences.
A drug charge can change the course of your life, but it certainly doesn’t have to. No matter the severity of the marijuana charge, it is always recommended to seek the counsel of a knowledgeable and experienced Columbia marijuana possession attorney. A lawyer can help protect you from predatory police tactics, can help you avoid self-incrimination, and can perform a thorough investigation into all the evidence to see if there is any police misconduct.
With some types of charges, South Carolina offers “Drug Court” programs designed to assist individuals struggling with substance abuse issues. Other charges qualify for diversionary programs that, upon completion, result in the charge being dropped and the case being expunged from your record.
At Truslow & Truslow, our attorneys have more than 50 years of combined experience protecting our clients’ rights and building strategies to fight and win drug possession cases. We offer confidential consultations free of charge, so there is no cost in allowing us to walk you through your legal options and figure out the best steps to take.
The legal team at Truslow & Truslow has many years of experience ensuring the best possible outcomes for our clients and passionately fighting for their rights. Although simple possession is the most common charge, we defend individuals facing charges for:
Through careful analysis of the facts and circumstances of your arrest, we can determine whether the police activities that led to your arrest were lawful and admissible in court. Many of these situations involve unlawful search and seizure.
If we find evidence of police negligence or misconduct, it may be possible to have all charges against you dropped. Here are a few examples of situations in which your rights may have been violated:
Although marijuana arrests are on the decline nationwide, South Carolina’s number of marijuana arrests are sharply increasing in the midst of an aggressive anti-drug crackdown.
Under the United States Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, every citizen is guaranteed due process and lawful search and seizure procedures prior to an arrest. If the marijuana is in plain sight, such as on the dashboard of a car during a traffic stop, then a police officer can legally search a vehicle.
Searches without consent are frequent, but any evidence found in such a manner is inadmissible in court. Our Columbia marijuana possession lawyers will investigate every possible factor in your arrest and fiercely fight for your rights
Individuals facing charges for marijuana often have many questions. Students and workers may be facing the possibility of professional or personal consequences on top of any legal penalties. Misinformation is common, with many South Carolinians mistakenly believing that marijuana charges will be minor or that they do not need help from an attorney.
The best way to answer all your questions and get a full grasp of your legal options is to contact Truslow & Truslow’s qualified attorneys at (803) 256-6276 for a free and confidential consultation.
One of the most common defenses, noted above, is unlawful search and seizure of someone’s home, automobile, or person. If a police officer had no valid warrant or probable cause when they discovered the marijuana, the case may be thrown out. Other possible defenses include:
An Order for Destruction of Arrest Records (also known as expungement) is possible in a variety of different circumstances. Usually, they are granted only for minor or first-time convictions, which simple possession of marijuana under 1 ounce usually counts for.
If non-violent defendants complete a Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program, which includes rehabilitation, community service, and drug testing, expungement is also possible. Finally, non-conviction can result in record expungement, including not-guilty trial verdicts, cases dismissed by the judge, and charges the solicitor does not prosecute.
An attorney can help you through every step of the legal process, from helping defend you from aggressive or unlawful police tactics, helping you avoid self-incrimination, and performing a rigorous investigation into the facts of the case.
In some cases, a criminal defense attorney can help reach a favorable plea deal that helps clients avoid jail time and move on with their lives. No matter how small or large the drug charge, the advice and counsel of an attorney can help maximize the odds of a favorable outcome for their clients.
Although marijuana arrests are dropping nationwide as more states legalize and decriminalize, South Carolina persists and has even doubled down on arresting marijuana users. An incredible 4.3% of people who use marijuana in South Carolina are arrested for it each year.
A 2012 study by Shenandoah University professor John Gettman showed that South Carolina’s rate of marijuana arrests increased 13.1% between 2008 and 2012, far more than any other state in the country. This arrest rate is increasing, and it is increasing 2.5 times faster than any other state.
The same study also found that 28.2% of people aged 18 to 25 in South Carolina use marijuana at least once per year, meaning that almost a third of South Carolinians are susceptible to possession arrests.
In 2012, over 61% of all drug arrests in South Carolina were for marijuana, far more than for any other drug. Arrests for sale of marijuana in South Carolina went up by 20% during the same four-year period.
Even when faced with the stress and hardship of a marijuana arrest, it is possible to put the event in the past where it belongs. The experienced attorneys at Truslow & Truslow have been passionately serving the Columbia area community for years. We are proud of our 99% client satisfaction rate, and we have the trial-tested knowledge of drug cases to win you the peace of mind and future you deserve.
To schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your defense, contact us today at (803) 256-6276 or reach out to us online.
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