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Everything You Need To Know About Fentanyl Charges in SC


You may have heard the news stories about fentanyl. It is up to 100 times stronger than morphine and is responsible for overdose deaths every day. But, did you know it’s still prescribed to treat chronic and severe pain by medical professionals?

In this piece, we’ll discuss:

  • What fentanyl is, how it’s used, and how it’s used illegally
  • Common drug charges for possession and use of fentanyl, by itself and mixed with other controlled substances
  • The penalties for crimes related to fentanyl and similar substances

First, What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful opiate pain reliever, first created as a solution for severe pain. It was prescribed more commonly in the past than it is today due to the recent upgrade in the regulation over opioid medications.

Its primary use is now on the street, being produced and used illegally. Fentanyl and its analogs (other drugs that are produced to be similar) are synthetically formulated and mixed with other drugs with the intent to get its users high. The drug is sometimes used as a replacement for heroin and other opiates.

How Does SC Treat Fentanyl?

The State of South Carolina is compliant with the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) drug schedule, enacted in 1970 to classify drugs by their potential for misuse and the danger they pose to the greater public health. The scale goes from 1-6, ranked from most to least dangerous, as illustrated here.

Schedule I controlled substances are those with no official medical use. Because fentanyl is technically a pain reliever, it is considered a schedule II.

Other schedule II drugs include:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Belladonna
  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine

Some would argue that fentanyl is one of the most dangerous substances in existence, and a better fit for schedule I due to its potency. Even small amounts of fentanyl have caused deadly overdoses.

There are some notable cases where law enforcement officials have had to be treated for fentanyl toxicity just after handling the substance. This is why drug crimes involving fentanyl and similar drugs are punished severely by the SC justice system.

What Are Common Charges for Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is commonly used and sold mixed with other drugs to increase potency while decreasing the price. The most commonly used mixers are cocaine and crack cocaine. Both drugs that have seen an increase in deadly overdoses since this trend began.

Common drug charges in SC for crimes involving fentanyl and other schedule II controlled substances include simple possession, possession with intent to distribute and trafficking. The differences in these charges are crucial in deciding the penalties.

Drug crimes involving fentanyl in SC are covered under Title 44 of the State Code, in section 370 of Chapter 53. The penalties for each are as follows:

Possession of Fentanyl

Simple possession of any controlled substances means possession for personal use. With drugs as potent as fentanyl, even the smallest amount of the substance can be deadly, so these charges are divided out by the number of prior offenses, if any.

The specific facts of the case are used to decide whether the fentanyl is being possessed for personal use and warrants a possession charge, or if it is possessed with the intention of selling to others, warranting a possession with intent to distribute charge.

These are the penalties for simple possession of fentanyl in SC:

1st Offense

  • Considered a misdemeanor
  • Jail time: 0 – 2 years
  • Potential fine: 0 – $5000
  • Could even be both

2nd Offense

  • Considered a felony
  • Jail time: 0 – 5 years
  • Potential fine: 0 – $5000
  • Could even be both

3+ Offenses

  • Considered a Felony
  • Jail time: 0 – 5 years
  • Potential fine: 0 – $10,000
  • Could even be both

Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID)

PWID for a drug like fentanyl is difficult to distinguish from simple possession. If you’re found holding more than the law considers for “personal use” you could get a PWID charge. You could also receive this charge if you have supplies commonly used for selling or packaging drugs in your possession. This is called “paraphernalia” and includes scales, bags, distinguishing branding labels, and more.

PWID fentanyl in SC is always a felony. Here are the penalties for incurring one or more PWID offenses with fentanyl in the State of South Carolina:

1st Offense

  • Jail time 0 – 15 years
  • Potential fine 0 – $25,000
  • Could be both

2nd Offense

  • Jail time 5 – 30 years
  • Potential fine 0 – $50,000
  • Could be both

3+ Offenses

  • Jail 10 – 30 years
  • Potential fine 0 – $50,000
  • Could be both

Fentanyl Trafficking

Trafficking is the most severe drug crime in the eyes of SC state law. Trafficking involves possession of a sufficiently large amount or the intent to transport drugs over long distances or state lines with the intent to sell.

No matter the number of offenses, trafficking a controlled substance without the proper authorization is a felony, and different quantities are tiered in terms of the applicable penalties.

These are the penalties for laws regarding trafficking fentanyl in SC:

4 grams or more but less than 14 grams

1st Offense

  • Jail time 7 – 25 years
  • Fine of $50,000

2 or More Offenses

  • Jail: mandatory minimum of 25 years
  • Fine of up to $100,000

14 grams or more but less than 28 grams (any number of penalties)

  • Jail: mandatory minimum of 25 years
  • Fine of up to $200,000

28 grams or more

  • Jail: 25 – 40 years
  • Fine of up to $200,000

The Bottom Line

Getting involved with a drug like fentanyl will put you at risk of a whole host of legal penalties, but more than that, fentanyl can be fatal in a single use. For both reasons, this drug and its analogs are not something to be toyed with.

If you do find yourself at the wrong end of fentanyl charges or some other drug charges in SC, you need representation experienced enough to protect your interests. Contact the Kent Collins Law Firm for more information.

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