Crystal Meth Charges in SC: The Complete List
Crystal methamphetamine (meth) is a stimulant drug that’s often synthesized and consumed in a variety of different forms. Like many other addictive drugs, possessing and selling crystal meth is illegal and heavily penalized. Manufacturing meth is a bigger issue than with many other drugs, however, so this is addressed in the South Carolina code covering methamphetamine.
In this article, we’re going to discuss:
- The various laws associated with making, carrying and selling crystal meth in SC
- The types of charges that can occur in various scenarios involving meth
- The penalties for drug crimes related to meth in the South Carolina legal system
What Is Crystal Meth?
Crystal meth is a synthetic drug, often “cooked” using household ingredients in residential homes, making it common in various parts of the state of South Carolina. It’s chemically similar to drugs used to treat attention deficit disorders, as these drugs are also part of the amphetamine family. The key difference is that prescription amphetamines are safe when used as directed, and legal when the user has a valid prescription, while methamphetamine is a drug that is illegal under all circumstances.
Laws pertaining to the manufacturing, sale, and possession of meth, cocaine, and other controlled substances are all covered under the same part of the South Carolina State Code: Section 44-53-375.
Simple Possession of Meth
Covered under SC Code Section 44-53-375 (A), anyone caught with possession of crystal meth is covered under the “simple possession” section of the law, at minimum. Additional charges can be levied if the user is judged to be showing the intent to distribute, which usually occurs if the user is in possession of a large amount of the substances, or has a large amount of paraphernalia used to smoke or weigh the drug.
The amount that the user is found to be in possession of can change the penalty, no matter the number of past offenses they have. Simple possession only applies to less than a gram of meth:
1st offense: misdemeanor with penalties of up to 3 years of prison time and up to a 5,000 dollar fine
2nd offense: felony charge with possible penalties of up to 5 years in prison and up to a 7,500 dollar fine
3 or more offenses: felony charge with possible penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a maximum 12,500 dollar fine
In each case, the State of South Carolina allows courts to sentence offenders to alternative penalties, like court-ordered drug rehabilitation programs, for example.
Manufacturing Meth or Possession with Intent to Distribute
if you’re found in possession of more than one gram of crystal meth, the State of SC considers that prima facie evidence of possession with intent to distribute (PWID). This means that whereas in most cases, intent is something that the prosecution has to prove, but in prima facie cases, the burden switches to the defense. It’s can be difficult to win a prima facie argument in court.
This charge, covered under SC Code 44-53-375 (B) also includes manufacturing meth or any of the ingredients used to make it (under suspicion of cooking meth) and groups the penalties in with PWID. Every charge in this section is a felony.
First offense: up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to 25,000 dollars
Second offense: between 5 and 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of 50,000 dollars
Three or more offenses: between 10 and 30 years and a maximum fine of 50,000 dollars
Trafficking a controlled substance is among the most serious drug crimes, and as such, carries some of the most severe penalties. Trafficking can be levied if you’re found bringing meth over state lines (into South Carolina) or even if you are caught with a sufficient amount in your possession. A minimum amount of 10 grams is considered prima facie evidence of your intent to traffic meth and will be charged as such. Trafficking sentences are not eligible for parole or probation as it pertains to meth in SC. Penalties listed below are all felonies and are separated by weight threshold:
1st: 3-10 years and a 25,000 dollar fine
2nd: 5-30 years and a 50,000 dollar fine
3rd or more: 25-30 years and a 50,000 dollar fine
1st: 7-25 years and a fine of 50,000 dollars
2nd: 7-30 years and a fine of 50,000 dollars
3rd or more: 25-30 years and a fine of 50,000 dollars
A mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and a fine of 50,000 dollars
A mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and a fine of 100,000 dollars
400 or More Grams
A mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and a fine of 200,000 dollars
Special Charges Relating to Children and Meth
Because of the danger of meth, related offenses are punished more severely when children are involved. Here are some of the relevant charges and their penalties:
Exposing a Minor to Methamphetamine
Covered under a different section (Section 44-53-378) of the State Code of South Carolina, exposing a child to methamphetamine or anything used in its consumption or creation is a serious crime. This charge goes into effect when anyone over 18 knowingly allows a child to enter areas where crystal meth is being used, sold, or made. This law is so broad that it even implies exposing a child knowingly in an area where someone is in the possession of meth.
For first offenders, penalties may be as severe as up to 5 years and prison and a fine of up to 5,000 dollars. For second and subsequent offenses, offenders may face up to 10,000 dollars in fines as well as a 10-year maximum sentence. These sentences are levied on top of the previously mentioned penalties related to meth in SC.
Unlawful Conduct with/Toward a child
If a person 18 years old or older knowingly allows a child to be near an area where meth is being cooked, they may also be charged with unlawful conduct toward a child, as stated in SC Code Section 63-5-70. The penalties for this charge are a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 10,000 dollars for each offense.
The Representation You Deserve
Crimes involving meth in SC are very serious and if you’re caught up in one the charges discussed, you could be penalized accordingly. Kent Collins Law Firm is experienced in protecting the interests and reputations of everyday people just like you, when they’ve been accused of a crime involving meth or another controlled substance.
For more information, contact the Kent Collins Law Firm today.