Drug Trafficking Charges in Charleston, SC
When most people think of drug trafficking charges, they probably picture a scene from Narcos or Blow – South American narco-traffickers smuggling tons of drugs across the border in an airplane, speedboat, or submarine.
Most people probably think that, to be charged with drug trafficking, you must at least cross state lines with a massive quantity of drugs, but that’s not how drug trafficking charges work most of the time.
Below, I’ll go over some of the different ways a person can be charged with drug trafficking in SC, including:
- Actual or constructive possession,
- Cultivation, and
If you have been charged with drug trafficking in Charleston, SC, do not talk to police or prosecutors until you have consulted with an experienced drug trafficking defense attorney – call us or contact us through our website immediately.
How Does the State Prove Drug Trafficking Charges in SC?
You can be charged with drug trafficking in SC if you possess more than the threshold weight of the drugs or if you conspire to possess more than the threshold weight of the drugs. But there’s more…
SC Code § 44-53-370 says that, if the drugs are above the threshold weight, you can be charged with drug trafficking if you knowingly:
- Sell drugs,
- Manufacture drugs,
- Cultivate drugs,
- Deliver drugs,
- Purchase drugs,
- Bring drugs into the state of SC,
- Provide financial assistance to another to sell, manufacture, cultivate, deliver, purchase, or bring drugs into this State,
- Aid another to sell, manufacture, cultivate, deliver, purchase, or bring drugs into this State,
- Abet another to sell, manufacture, cultivate, deliver, purchase, or bring drugs into this State,
- Attempt to sell, manufacture, cultivate, deliver, purchase, or bring drugs into this State,
- Conspire to sell, manufacture, cultivate, deliver, purchase, or bring drugs into this State,
- Possess drugs,
- Are in constructive possession of drugs, or
- Knowingly attempt to become in actual or constructive possession of drugs.
Drug Trafficking Charges are Based on Weight
All drug trafficking charges, whether they stem from possession, conspiracy, or attempt, are based on the weight of the drugs.
Each type of drug has a “threshold weight” found in SC’s drug laws – if the drugs are below that weight, the person will be charged with possession with intent to distribute, distribution, manufacturing, or another drug offense.
If the drugs are above the threshold weight, however, the person is charged with trafficking, and the potential penalties increase by levels based on the weight.
What are the Threshold Weights for Drug Trafficking Charges in SC?
Some examples of threshold weights under SC law for the lowest tier of trafficking charges include:
- Marijuana: One pound,
- Cocaine: Ten grams,
- Meth: Ten grams,
- Crack cocaine: Ten grams, and
- Heroin: 4 grams.
Drug Trafficking Charges can be Based on Possession or Conspiracy
Drug trafficking charges can be based on possession alone – actual possession or constructive possession.
It doesn’t matter if you crossed state lines, sold the drugs, or had weapons on you. If you are sitting in the park one day and the police find 11 grams of cocaine in your jacket pocket, you will be charged with trafficking cocaine.
If you are pulled over on the highway, and police find two pounds of weed in the trunk, you will be charged with trafficking marijuana. If you are standing on a street corner, and police find five grams of heroin that someone tossed on the sidewalk nearby, you will most likely be charged with trafficking in heroin based on constructive possession.
Drug trafficking charges in SC can also be based on conspiracy – an agreement between two or more people to commit an illegal act, with the intent to commit the illegal act, and some overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy (which could be as simple as making a phone call).
Even if you never possessed the drugs, never saw the drugs, and never intended to take possession of them, you could be charged with drug trafficking based on conspiracy because you made a phone call to help someone else set up a drug deal…
Drug Trafficking Charges can be Based on Distribution or Manufacturing
The statute is clear that you can also be charged with drug trafficking in SC based on distribution, manufacturing, or cultivation.
How does that work?
In a drug sting, narcotics officers will usually get an informant to buy drugs from their target (with audio or video recording equipment and officers waiting nearby). They might do this two or more times before they make an arrest.
When the narcotics officers arrive with an arrest warrant for distribution and a search warrant based on the distribution, and they find cocaine over the threshold weight in the home or other place that is searched, they will then add a warrant for trafficking in cocaine (in addition to the distribution charges).
You can also be charged with drug trafficking based on manufacturing drugs – for example, the statute says that, if you are found with more than 100 marijuana plants, you can be charged with drug trafficking instead of manufacturing, regardless of the weight of the plants.
Questions About Drug Trafficking Charges in Charleston, SC?
Charleston, SC marijuana defense attorney Grant B. Smaldone accepts criminal defense cases in the Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, and Myrtle Beach areas of SC, including drug offenses and drug trafficking 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.