Cocaine Charges in SC: All You Need To Know
Sugar. Blow. Stardust. Nose candy. Cocaine, by any other name, is still an illegal drug.
South Carolina is serious about holding accountable anyone who uses, sells or even just possesses cocaine or related paraphernalia. And the penalties are severe.
Are you facing a cocaine charge? Your first step is to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Together, you can do everything in your power to fight the charges against you and protect your rights.
That’s critical, because if you’re convicted, here are the consequences that could await you. Please keep in mind that the following information pertains to cocaine charges, not necessarily crack cocaine charges.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
To know if you’re in possession of drug paraphernalia, you must first understand what counts as drug paraphernalia. Drug paraphernalia is anything that you could use to prepare or take a drug. The only exceptions to what can be considered drug paraphernalia in South Carolina are listed in SC Code as cigarette papers and tobacco pipes.
A few examples of cocaine paraphernalia include:
- Carburetion tubes and devices
- Cocaine spoons
- Cocaine vials
- Water pipes
The charge: possession of paraphernalia
If you’re accused of possession of drug paraphernalia, law enforcement will consider the following in determining your charges:
- Statements that you make about the object in question
- Whether the object is close to any cocaine or other controlled substances
- Whether there’s residue on the device from cocaine or another controlled substance
- Expert testimony about the object’s use
The above factors are not only used to decide your charges, but also to help a judge determine the appropriate penalty.
The penalties for possession of drug paraphernalia
A conviction of a possession of paraphernalia charge is a civil offense, which results in a hefty fine.
|Civil charge||None||Up to $500|
While not classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, a civil offense will go on your record.
Simple Possession of Cocaine
A charge for possessing cocaine is a more severe charge than having drug paraphernalia.
“Simple” possession means that you only have enough cocaine in your possession for personal use—typically less than one gram. Such a small amount of cocaine indicates that you likely weren’t going to sell (or distribute) it to anyone else.
The charge: simple possession of cocaine
Don’t let the title of the charge fool you. “Simple” possession is still a serious criminal charge with consequences that can change your life.
Your first offense is likely a misdemeanor. But if you have any prior convictions, you’ll be charged with a felony. If convicted, the punishments you’ll face include fines, jail time or both. In some cases, you could be sentenced to a drug treatment and rehab program.
The penalties: simple possession of cocaine
Depending on your criminal record, a conviction for simple possession of cocaine could land you in jail for a few months or up to 10 years. You could also have to pay fines.
|First offense||Misdemeanor||Up to 3 years||Up to $5,000|
|Second offense||Felony||Up to 5 years||Up to $7,500|
|Third offense (or additional)||Felony||Up to 10 years||Up to $12,500|
There are a couple of exceptions to the sentencing guidelines above.
For a first offense, a judge can grant a sentence to a drug treatment or rehab facility instead of jail time. Also, for a conviction on any simple possession offense, you may be able to receive a suspended jail sentence and probation.
If you’re sentenced to jail time, there’s a chance—with good behavior and hard work—that you could get out of jail early due to the following factors:
- Supervised furlough
- Community supervision
- Education credits
- Good conduct credits
- Work credits
- Work release
The more severe of the two possession charges, PWID stands for possession with intent to distribute.
A PWID charge results if you’re found with an amount of cocaine that would be too much for personal use—typically more than one gram. According to SC law, having that much cocaine in your possession indicates that you probably intended to sell it to others.
The charge: possession with intent to distribute cocaine
Whether your first offense or your fifth offense, PWID cocaine is a felony charge. The punishment for a conviction can involve paying a hefty fine, spending a long time in jail or both.
However, for a first or second offense, there’s a chance you could get probation with a suspended jail sentence rather than immediately serving out your sentence behind bars. If you’re sentenced to jail time, you’d be eligible for parole and other early release opportunities for work and education credits and good conduct.
You might get those same opportunities for a third or subsequent offense, but only if your prior offenses were all for possession of a controlled substance. If not, all bets are off.
The best thing to do is talk to a lawyer about your case and find out how the criminal justice system can work for you instead of against you.
The penalties: PWID cocaine
While opportunities for parole or early release may be available to you, you can count on the following as penalties for a PWID conviction:
|First offense||Felony||Up to 15 years||Up to $25,000|
|Second offense||Felony||Between 5 and 30 years||Up to $50,000|
|Third offense (or additional)||Felony||Between 10 and 30 years||Up to $50,000|
Trafficking in Cocaine
Drug trafficking charges apply if you’re selling, transporting and distributing significant amounts of a controlled substance—in this case, 10 grams or more of cocaine.
The information included here refers to cocaine trafficking charges in South Carolina. However, be aware that if you transport cocaine over state lines, you could also be charged with a federal drug trafficking offense.
The charge: cocaine trafficking
Trafficking in cocaine is a felony charge. If you’ve been charged with trafficking cocaine, then you were somehow associated with either 10 grams or more of cocaine or cocaine base.
A cocaine trafficking charge means that you’re accused of doing one of the following activities with cocaine or a cocaine base:
Cocaine trafficking is considered a violent offense in South Carolina, even if no actual violence takes place when you’re charged. A conviction for a “violent” offense determines where you’re placed in the department of corrections after sentencing. Mandatory minimum sentencing also comes into play, with no suspension or probation.
The penalties: cocaine trafficking
The punishments for trafficking in cocaine involve both jail time and a large fine. The length of your sentence and amount of your fine depend on the weight of the cocaine you were trafficking.
10 to 27 grams
|First offense||Felony||Between 3 and 10 years||$25,000|
|Second offense||Felony||Between 5 and 30 years||$50,000|
|Third offense (or additional)||Felony||Between 25 and 30 years||$50,000|
28 to 99 grams
|First offense||Felony||Between 7 and 25 years||$50,000|
|Second offense||Felony||Between 7 and 30 years||$50,000|
|Third offense (or additional)||Felony||Between 25 and 30 years||$50,000|
100 grams or more
|Weight of cocaine in grams||Classification||Jail Time||Fine|
|100 to 199||Felony||25 years||$50,000|
|200 to 399||Felony||25 years||$100,000|
|400 or more||Felony||Between 25 and 30 years||$200,000|
Don’t leave your future to chance. Talk to a lawyer today.
If you’re facing cocaine charges, the time to act is now. A conviction could land you in lockup for a third of your life or longer—possibly with a mountain of fines to pay.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can work with you to fight the charges you’re facing. With a seasoned attorney on your side, you may be able to negotiate plea deal for lesser charges or a suspended sentence.
Give yourself and your future the best chance. Schedule a free, no strings attached consultation with our legal team. Just fill out this form, or call us at 803-808-0905.