Drug Trafficking Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC
Drug trafficking is the most serious drug offense in South Carolina and carries the most severe penalties.
Drug trafficking charges can arise out of several different scenarios, including:
- Drug deals where the drug weight exceeds the threshold amount for trafficking;
- Search warrants issued for a residence after a controlled buy;
- Traffic stops where drugs are found that exceed the threshold amount for trafficking; or
- Conspiracy – where two or more people conspire to buy, sell, or transport large amounts of drugs.
Law enforcement and prosecutors will aggressively prosecute drug trafficking cases – the argument is often made that they should focus on dealers and traffickers, not drug users. When you are found in possession of large amounts of drugs, you become a primary target for narcotics officers and drug prosecutors in SC.
What is Drug Trafficking?
Although SC’s trafficking laws also allow trafficking charges based solely on conspiracy, drug trafficking charges in SC are usually based on the weight of the drugs found. Charges that might otherwise be possession, possession with intent to distribute, or distribution become trafficking charges when the drug weight exceeds:
- One pound of marijuana;
- Ten grams of cocaine or crack cocaine; or
- Four grams of heroin.
Four grams of heroin, or even ten grams of cocaine, is a relatively small amount – SC’s drug laws can be extremely harsh, and trafficking based on the weight of the drug can sometimes land drug users in prison with lengthy sentences instead of the drug dealers that the laws are meant to deter.
SC Penalties for Drug Trafficking
SC’s penalties for drug trafficking can be harsh. They all include mandatory minimum sentences, and the potential maximum sentences can range up to 40 years for a first offense of trafficking 28 or more grams of heroin.
In most cases, trafficking offenses are categorized as 85%, no-parole crimes, and are also categorized as violent crimes. What are the potential penalties?
Trafficking in Marijuana penalties range from 1-10 years for a first offense of trafficking 1-100 pounds of marijuana, up to 25-30 years in prison for trafficking 10,000 pounds or more of marijuana.
Trafficking in Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, or Meth penalties can range from 3-10 years for a first offense of trafficking 10-28 grams, up to 25-30 years for trafficking more than 400 grams.
Trafficking in Heroin penalties can range from 7-25 years for a first offense of trafficking 4-14 grams of heroin, up to 25-40 years in prison for trafficking 28 grams or more of heroin.
Defenses to Drug Trafficking Charges in SC
Drug trafficking charges have many of the same defenses that are available in other drug cases, and the specific defenses that will apply to your case depend on the facts of your case and the evidence that the prosecution has against you.
Whether trafficking charges arose out of a traffic stop or the search of a residence, Fourth Amendment violations may be a defense to the charges. Was the search warrant valid and based on sufficient probable cause? Was there an “articulable, reasonable suspicion” for the officer to extend a roadside detention after writing the speeding ticket?
When law enforcement violates a suspect’s constitutional rights during a traffic stop, home search, or arrest, the remedy is suppression of any evidence they found. In a drug trafficking case, suppression of the drugs usually means dismissal of the charges.
SC Drug Trafficking Defense Attorney in Charleston
If you have been charged with trafficking marijuana, trafficking cocaine, or trafficking heroin in the Charleston, Georgetown, or Myrtle Beach areas, call Charleston, SC criminal defense lawyer Grant B. Smaldone now at (843) 808-2100 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.