Drug Possession Charges in Charleston, SC
Drug possession charges in SC – simple possession – is when someone is charged with possessing a relatively small amount of drugs, whether it is marijuana, cocaine, meth, or another controlled substance.
Below, I’ll go over the basics of drug possession charges in SC, including:
- Actual vs. constructive possession,
- The threshold weights for simple possession charges,
- Potential penalties for simple possession of different types of controlled substances,
- When you can get a simple possession conviction expunged, and
- Pretrial diversion programs in SC for simple possession offenses.
Drug Possession Charges in SC
Drug possession, or simple possession, refers to drug charges for small amounts of a controlled substance. The seriousness of the charges can range from a maximum of 30 days in jail for first-offense simple possession of marijuana to as much as ten years in prison for third-offense simple possession of cocaine, crack cocaine, or meth.
How do they prove simple possession charges? You may be surprised to learn that you can be charged with drug possession even when you didn’t have drugs in your possession…
Actual vs. Constructive Possession
Some drug cases are based on actual possession – when police find drugs in your pocket or your hand, for example.
In many cases, however, the drugs are not conveniently in a person’s pocket or hand when the police walk up. When the drugs are nearby in an area over which you have control, you can be charged with constructive possession.
For example, police might charge a person with constructive possession of drugs when the drugs are found:
- In a vehicle that you are driving,
- In a vehicle that you own,
- Under the seat where you are a passenger in a vehicle,
- On the sidewalk in the area where you were standing,
- In your home, or
- In your “grab area.”
It’s not enough to prove that the drugs were in proximity to you – the state must prove both 1) dominion and control (you had the right to control the disposition of the drugs) and 2) knowledge (you knew the drugs were there).
Threshold Weights for Drug Possession Charges in SC
Possession charges are based on the weight of the drugs found – if the drugs are above a “threshold weight,” you will most likely be charged with possession with intent to distribute or drug trafficking instead of simple possession.
The threshold weights for some of the more common simple possession charges include:
- 28 grams for simple possession of marijuana or ten grams for hash,
- One gram for simple possession of powder cocaine, crack cocaine, or meth,
- Two grains for simple possession of heroin,
- 50 micrograms for simple possession of LSD, or
- 15 dosage units for simple possession of ecstasy (MDMA or Molly).
Penalties for Drug Possession Charges in SC
The penalties for simple possession charges can range from 30 days in jail to ten years in prison, depending on the type of controlled substance and the number of applicable prior drug convictions on a person’s record.
|Simple Possession Charges||Potential Penalties|
|1st Offense Possession of Marijuana or Hash||30 days|
|2nd Offense Possession of Marijuana or Hash||One year|
|1st Offense Possession of Powder Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, or Meth||Three years|
|2nd Offense Possession of Powder Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, or Meth||Five years|
|3rd Offense Possession of Powder Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, or Meth||Ten years|
|1st Offense Possession of Heroin||Two years|
|2nd Offense Possession of Heroin||Five years|
|3rd Offense Possession of Heroin||Five years|
|1st Offense Possession of LSD||Two years|
|2nd Offense Possession of LSD||Five years|
|3rd Offense Possession of LSD||Five years|
|1st Offense Possession of MDMA||Six months|
|2nd Offense Possession of MDMA||One year|
|1st Offense Possession of Non-Narcotic Prescription Drugs||Six months|
|2nd Offense Possession of Non-Narcotic Prescription Drugs||One year|
Pretrial Diversion for Drug Possession Charges in Charleston, SC
Depending on the type of possession charge, your criminal history, and the mitigation your attorney presents to the prosecutor, you may be eligible for a pretrial diversion program that would allow you to complete community service hours in exchange for dismissal and expungement.
- Conditional discharges for minor possession charges,
- Pretrial intervention (PTI), or
- Drug Court.
Can You Get Drug Convictions Expunged in SC?
The 2018 amendments to SC expungement laws made significant changes to the expungement of drug offenses, including:
- Simple possession of any controlled substance (after three years), and
- Possession with intent to distribute any controlled substance (after 20 years).
Drug Possession Defense Lawyers in Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC drug crimes defense attorney Grant B. Smaldone accepts criminal defense cases in the Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, and Myrtle Beach areas of SC, including simple possession charges. If you’ve been charged with any drug offense in South Carolina, including:
- Simple possession,
- Possession with intent to distribute,
- Manufacturing, or
Call now at (843) 808-2100 or send us a message for a free consultation about your case.