Simple Possession of Marijuana Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC

In a time when most of the United States is moving towards legalization of marijuana for personal use, it is still illegal for all purposes in South Carolina.

In many states, marijuana is now legal for recreational use. In others, it is legal for medical use with a prescription. In still other states, they have “decriminalized” simple possession of small amounts of marijuana – meaning it is punishable by a fine only.

In Charleston, SC, police will put you in jail for a joint or shake in the bottom of a bag.

Simple Possession of Marijuana in South Carolina

Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in SC is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail.

In SC, police will arrest you and put you in jail for even small amounts of marijuana. When you are released, you will be given a court date for a “bench trial“- your criminal defense lawyer can then request a jury trial, get the evidence against you, and work on getting your case dismissed.

Do Not Plead Guilty to Simple Possession of Marijuana

At your bond hearing, the judge or the officer may attempt to get you to plead guilty – you can pay a fine and go home…

Except, if you do, you will now have a criminal conviction for a drug offense on your record that will affect your future employment and reputation no matter where you go. Don’t pay a fine – in many cases you will get a PR bond, but, if not, your bond amount will ordinarily not be higher than the fine you would have paid.  

In most cases, we can get your simple possession of marijuana charge dismissed before trial, use a pretrial diversion program to avoid a conviction, or try your case to a jury in the magistrate or municipal court.

It’s just a matter of time before all 50 states, including South Carolina, legalize the use and possession of marijuana for personal use – the courts, police, and prosecutors know it, but some will still seek a conviction. Defense attorneys know it, but some will still advise their clients to plead guilty. Get a Charleston, SC drug defense lawyer who knows the system and who will do everything legally and ethically possible to help you keep your record clean.

How Do I Defend Against a Simple Possession of Marijuana Charge?

I was pulled over for speeding, and the officer said he smelled weed. He asked if I had any, so I handed him the baggie…

Seems hopeless? All the available defenses for more serious drug crimes also apply in a simple possession case:

  • Fourth Amendment search and seizure violations will result in suppression of the evidence;
  • If the drugs were not on your person, the state must prove “constructive possession” – they must prove beyond any reasonable doubt: 1) that you had control over the area where the drugs were found, and 2) you knew that they were there;
  • The state must establish a “chain of custody” from the officer who first seized the marijuana to the chemist who tested it;
  • The chemist who tested the drugs must also testify as to their results – the drug report is not admissible unless the chemist takes the stand; and
  • Other defenses may be available based on the facts of your case.

Even more importantly, the state does not always have the resources, time, or will to prosecute and convict people for small-time marijuana offenses – we may be able to avoid a trial and get your case dismissed through pretrial negotiations, use of pretrial diversion, or, sometimes, just showing up ready for trial on your trial date…

Conditional Discharges for Simple Possession of Marijuana in SC

Imagine the worst possible scenario – you walk up to a police officer, on camera, hand him a bag of weed, and say: “Hello, this is my marijuana.” The officer arrests you, and, prior to trial, it is clear that they will be able to produce all of their witnesses and you will be convicted.

If it’s a first offense, you are still eligible for a conditional discharge – if the officer and court agree, you will be able to do a small amount of community service after which your charge will be dismissed and expunged from your record.

If you have already used a conditional discharge in SC, you may still be eligible for PTI (pre-trial intervention), which is a bit more involved than a conditional discharge but also will result in dismissal and expungement of your charges.

SC Simple Possession of Marijuana Defense Attorney in Charleston

If you have been charged with simple possession of marijuana in the Charleston, Georgetown, or Myrtle Beach areas of Eastern SC, call Grant B. Smaldone now at (843) 808-2100 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.