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Charged With PWID in SC? Here’s What You Could be Facing.


There are three common drug offenses that someone could be charged with in South Carolina. Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID) is the second most serious, carrying less severe penalties than trafficking but more severe than simple possession.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • The legal definition of Possession with Intent to Distribute in SC
  • The factors that separate PWID from other drug offenses in SC law
  • The penalties associated with PWID in SC for common illegal substances

What Is Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID)?

Possession with Intent to Distribute can be charged if the quantity of the drug in your possession is considered to be more than you’d have for personal use. Since there isn’t an amount that clearly separates personal use from an amount intended to be sold, this intent can be decided by a number of factors specific to your case including the presence of scales, baggies, or other items typically used to package and sell drugs.

This means that if you were cited for marijuana possession and had .99 oz of the substance on your person with no other questionable items in your possession, you would likely be charged with simple possession. But if you had just a single .01 oz more plus plastic baggies and a kitchen scale in your possession, you could be facing a PWID charge in SC.

Simple Possession IS NOT the Same as Possession with Intent to Distribute

Simple possession is possession of an illegal substance at an amount consistent with what the law considers person use. PWID is different in that law enforcement believes that you aren’t in possession of this substance for personal use, but to distribute or sell it to others. In regular terms, this is the difference between being a drug user and a drug dealer, and it’s an important distinction.


First, the penalties are different. PWID carries much more severe penalties than simple possession, which is one of the reasons why having access to quality representation when defending yourself against allegations of a drug-related offense is so important. You can be charged with PWID despite having an amount of the drug that is less than the threshold, and similarly, a high-quality attorney may be able to show that although you were in possession of a qualified amount of a drug to be a PWID charge, possession was likely to be only for personal use.

What cannot EVER happen is your being charged for both simple possession and possession with intent to distribute at the same time for the same quantity of drugs in question.

Why Is the Concept of Intent So Important?

In drug cases in SC, there are three key ways to prove intent:

  • The amount in your possession is more than what the state considers to be consistent with personal use
  • The way the drugs in your possession are packaged implies intent to distribute them. For example, you have marijuana in your possession, and it’s packaged in several bags with the exact same amount of drug in each.
  • Drug paraphernalia in your possession is consistent with distribution, even if no drug residue is found on any of it. This includes scales and bags for portioning drugs to sell.

PWID Charge Thresholds and Penalties

Simple possession is unlikely to be classified as a felony, unless the defendant is on a 3rd or subsequent offense or if there are other circumstances considered in the case. For example, if the alleged has prior drug charges, the courts may bump a simple possession charge up to a felony.

Every substance discussed has a weight at which the charge becomes a felony trafficking charge. In SC, drug offenses are primarily separated based on the quantity of the drug found in a person’s possession, although the concept of intent still matters in separating simple possession from PWID.

Possession with Intent to Distribute, however, is always considered a felony charge. You can be charged with PWID for possession of a sufficient amount of any illicit or controlled substance (without authorization) but these are some of the more common substances as laid out in the SC Code of Law:


Marijuana is the most common illicit substance dealt at the street level in nearly every state. While marijuana use is legal in some states in the U.S., in South Carolina it is still illegal to possess, transport, manufacture, or distribute marijuana for any reason. A PWID charge with marijuana is always considered a felony in SC.

More than one ounce but less than 10 lbs

  • 1st offense: 0-5 years and/or a fine of $0-5k
  • 2nd offense: 0-10 years and/or a fine of $0-10k
  • 3rd and subsequent offenses: 5-20 years and/or a fine of $0-20k

Powder or Crack Cocaine

Unlike some states, SC doesn’t have different penalties for crack and powder cocaine, acknowledging that the substances are essentially the same. Federally, crack cocaine and powder cocaine are treated differently in the eyes of the law.

PWID with crack or powder cocaine is always classified as a felony according to SC state law. Here are the quantity thresholds and penalties for each level of PWID:

More than 1 gram but less than 28 grams

  • 1st offense: 0-15 years and/or a fine of $0-25k
  • 2nd offense: 5-30 years and/or a fine of $0-50k
  • 3rd and subsequent offenses: 10-30 years and/or a fine of $0-50k


Like other drugs, PWID involving meth is a felony in SC.

More than 1 gram

  • 1st offense: 0-15 years and/or a $0-25k fine
  • 2nd offense: 5-30 years and/or a $0-50k fine
  • 3rd offense or more: 10-30 years and/or a $0-50k fine

The Importance of Representation in a PWID Case

No matter your circumstances, whether you had a quantity of a drug that was only slightly above the threshold for PWID or way over, whether it was your first, second, or fifth offense of the same drug crime, you need to have experienced representation behind you in court.

At Kent Collins Law, we’ve helped thousands navigate the legal system under allegations of various serious drug charges. If you or someone you know has been accused of PWID in SC, contact us as soon as possible.

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