8 Most Asked Questions About Drug Trafficking Charges in SC
Drug trafficking is the most severe drug charge that you could face in SC, and, as such, it’s often not understood as well as simple possession or possession with intent to distribute. In this article, we’ll discuss:
- What drug trafficking in SC means and the implications of the charge
- The answers to some of the most common questions clients and prospective clients ask about drug trafficking in SC
Drug Trafficking in South Carolina, Defined
There are three tiers of drug crimes in nearly every state, including SC:
The lowest level is known as “simple possession”. This is used when you’re found with an amount of an illegal substance on your person that the law deems consistent with “personal use”.
If you possess an amount of a given substance that is more than the “personal use” threshold, or if you’re found in possession of any paraphernalia — pipes, scales, bags, and anything else used to produce, package, use, or sell controlled substances — that charge may be upgraded to “possession with intent to distribute,” usually shortened to the initials PWID. Drug distribution and drug manufacturing falls under the same penalty range as PWID in SC.
Drug trafficking is the most serious drug charge in SC. Many people are under the misconception that in order to have a trafficking charge filed against you, you have to transport a large quantity of drugs or other controlled substances across state or international boundaries. In SC, trafficking charges are usually based on the weight of the controlled substance, or, less often, conspiracy to traffick drugs.
Here are some of the most common questions about trafficking that we field here at the Kent Collins Law Firm:
Is drug trafficking a felony?
Yes, it is ALWAYS a felony in SC. Let’s take marijuana, for example. This is one of the most common drug charges in SC. The minimum threshold for drug trafficking in SC is the possession of 10 lbs of marijuana. For a first offense of possession of between 10 and 100 lbs, the minimum penalty is one year and up to 10 years in prison as well as up to $100,000 in fines.
Is drug trafficking in SC a federal crime?
If the charge involves elements that are confined within the boundaries of South Carolina, it will be prosecuted in the state justice system. This means that the production, possession and potential distribution was not suspected to involve anything outside of the state.
If trafficking is done over state lines or the substances in question can be tracked to production or distribution in another state, then it becomes a federal case. Either way, this is a very serious offense.
How does a drug trafficking charge work?
Drug trafficking charges are treated the same as other felonies. Police will take the steps to thoroughly conduct their investigation. If the investigation yields evidence that you (or someone else) is guilty of trafficking under the definition of the charge in SC, you’ll be charged.
Ultimately, a prosecutor decides whether to pursue legal charges, the defendant is indicted and goes through the court system. In a state criminal case, this will be someone from the solicitor’s office making the final call. In a federal case, the United States District Attorney has the final say.
What constitutes drug trafficking?
Drug trafficking in SC doesn’t have to involve crossing state lines. It involves the possession of greater than the threshold weight for the drug as defined in the SC Code.
Here are some of the minimum amounts that constitute trafficking charges in SC for common drugs:
- Marijuana: any amount greater than 10 lbs
- Cocaine: any amount greater than 10 grams
- Methamphetamine: any amount greater than 10 grams
- Heroin: any amount greater than 4 grams
Basically, if you have, use, sell, or make an amount of a drug that crosses these thresholds, you can be charged with trafficking.
Can drug trafficking charges be dropped?
Drug trafficking charges can be dropped, depending on how the law enforcement and prosecuting attorneys handle a case. All charges can potentially get dropped, dismissed by the judge, or reduced.
Sometimes the solicitor (prosecutor) makes mistakes in the prosecution of the case, and sometimes police officers make mistakes. This is where an experienced defense attorney can help with drug charges — a drug lawyer has a keen eye for potential mistakes and can use these to get your charges dismissed or lessened.
How can you beat drug trafficking charges?
Trafficking, like any other criminal charge, is not a guaranteed conviction.
An experienced lawyer with plenty of drug cases under their belt can protect your best interests in a court of law. Defense attorneys work tirelessly to help you achieve the best outcome possible.
What can a criminal defense attorney do for your drug trafficking charge?
Whether you are falsely accused or you just made a terrible mistake that you now regret, your criminal defense attorney can:
- Do an independent defense investigation;
- Locate witnesses who may be able to support your defense;
- Review all evidence including the officers’ reports, video and audio recordings, forensic reports, and drug analysis results;
- Move to exclude key evidence in your case;
- Negotiate a dismissal or reduction in the charges and sentence; and
- Try your case to a jury.
Drug trafficking is a serious crime in SC, and you need an experienced drug crimes defense lawyer who knows both the law and how to navigate SC’s criminal court system.
Where Can You Find Quality Representation?
The Kent Collins Law Firm has extensive experience dealing with drug cases in South Carolina for clients like you and your loved ones. For a free in-person case review and to learn about your options when facing charges of drug trafficking in SC, contact us today.