How to Get a Simple Possession Charge Dropped in SC
A conviction for Simple Possession of a controlled substance in South Carolina can seriously derail your life. Contrary to popular belief, however, there are ways to get this charge dropped or reduced.
In this piece, we’ll discuss:
- What simple possession of a controlled substance entails in South Carolina
- The potential penalties when a charge is raised against you
- How to get these charged dropped
The South Carolina legal system can present some difficult circumstances, and when it does, experienced legal help is the best asset you can have. The Kent Collins Law Firm has years of experience helping people protect their best interests when faced with legal challenges.
What Is Simple Possession?
In South Carolina, simple possession of a controlled substance is subject to what the State Code refers to as a “threshold.” This means that if you’re caught with any quantity of an illegal substance up to a certain amount, the charge is almost always “simple possession” instead of something more severe like possession with intent to sell/distribute (PWID) or trafficking.
Let’s take marijuana for example, as one of the most common illegal substance charges in South Carolina. State law says that anything less than 28 grams in your possession is considered simple possession.
An exception to this general rule is if you’re also found with materials used to manufacture, package, or distribute the substance. The presence of equipment used to consume the drug, or “paraphernalia” can also cause a simple possession charge to be upgraded in severity to a PWID charge (Possession with Intent to Distribute.)
Basically, a simple possession charge is supposed to cover an amount of an illegal drug that’s used for “personal use.”
How to Get Simple Possession Charges Dropped
In South Carolina there are a variety of reasons why your charges could be dropped. Some of them have to do with the conduct of the law enforcement officers who made the arrest, or the legality of the evidence in your case. Here is a brief overview of some of the most common reasons why a simple possession charge in South Carolina may be dropped or overturned:
A plea bargain is one of the most common cases in which your charges may be dropped, especially for something relatively minor like simple possession of a controlled substance. Often, law enforcement will be more concerned with those manufacturing or supplying addictive substances on a higher level, so plea bargains can be negotiated if you have some information to help the prosecution identify a more high-value target.
Plea bargains are very common in the justice system because it’s in the state’s best interest to process you as quickly as possible so that they can focus on other cases. A qualified SC defense attorney can be an asset in this type of negotiation.
Entrapment is a concept that’s not well-understood. A few high-profile myths, such as “a cop has to tell you that they’re a cop, otherwise, it’s entrapment” blur the lines between what is and isn’t entrapment.
This difference is well-defined here, but the rule basically is this: if it can be shown that a police officer went above and beyond to attempt to supply you with an illegal substance, for example, any charge of simple possession that arises would be entrapment, and the charges may be dropped.
Miranda Rights Violation
On the other hand, a Miranda Rights Violation is very straightforward. In SC, like all states, anyone arrested has to be read their rights for the arrest to be valid. These are the same rights you’ve probably heard 1000 times on various procedural dramas and cop TV shows: “You have the right to remain silent, etc.”
When officers fail to read these rights or ensure that you could understand the rights read to you during your arrest is where problems may arise. It doesn’t matter the crime for which you were arrested, a Miranda Rights violation can sometimes result in your charges being dropped.
It should be noted that this isn’t always the case. If an officer fails to Mirandize you when you’re taken into custody, all it means is that all statements made afterward cannot be used as evidence in your potential prosecution. Prosecutors may still decide to move forward with the case without the evidence that was thrown out.
Unlawful Search or Seizure
Unlawful Search and Seizure that goes beyond the state code of South Carolina; it’s a right guaranteed to all Americans under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The interpretation of this right is up to the individual court in the location where your charges are being handled, but the broad definition is this: no one’s home or vehicle may be searched without probable cause or reasonable suspicion first being established:
- Probable Cause: Many people believe that probable cause isn’t as strong a protection as it should be. Officers have to show that there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime has been committed for an arrest, or a reasonable basis for believing that evidence of a crime exists in the area being searched.
- Reasonable Suspicion: Reasonable suspicion is in place when an officer uses “a hunch” to justify a search. This is a lower standard than probable cause.
Both of these grounds for a search of your person or property are subjective, and arrests are considered unconstitutional if these standards aren’t met in the eyes of the court.
If the state fails to fulfill its burden of proof (they fail to produce enough evidence against you), your charges could be dropped. This is part of the reason why it’s so important to hire a defense attorney, even when you don’t think the charges are severe. An experienced criminal lawyer can help argue that the State didn’t have the evidence to satisfy their burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
In some cases, the state or local prosecutor’s office will decide that your case isn’t worth it for them to pursue or something changes that causes them to reconsider pursuing the charge.
This tends to be the case for charges like simple possession in SC, as the more minor the charges, the less the prosecutor has to lose by dropping it.
Facing a Charge of Simple Possession in SC?
This is an extremely common charge, but far too often defendants don’t discuss all of their options with an experienced drug charge attorney before making a decision about their future. If you’re facing any type of drug charge in South Carolina, make sure you get solid advice. Contact attorney Kent Collins today.