Being arrested in South Carolina for possession of a controlled substance is a serious matter. Depending on your particular circumstances, a “controlled substance” may include both specific prescription drugs and illegal and/or illicit drugs.
What is the Definition of a Controlled Substance?
Under criminal laws a controlled substance, in general terms, is defined as any material or drug that is subject to federal and state laws. Normally, these controlled substances mean there’s some type of risk of harm, danger, or addictive and could be abused.
What is Possession of a Controlled Substance in South Carolina?
In South Carolina and other states, the possession of a controlled substance is a criminal offense and can lead to jail and/or prison, stiff fines, and other consequences.
Possession may include a wide range of behavior such as:
- Having the controlled substance somewhere on your person
- Having the substance within your reach or control
- Having prescription drugs without the proper prescription
It may be that you are not even holding or carrying the substance, but you could still be considered possessing it. This is called constructive possession and you could legally be charged with possession if:
- You know the drugs are on your property
- You have the ability to control and have dominion over the substance.
Is Possession of a Controlled Substance a Felony or Misdemeanor in South Carolina?
The Federal Government divides controlled substances into five (5) distinct categories or schedules depending upon the drug’s acceptable medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential. The abuse rate is a determinate factor in the scheduling of the drug; for example, Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and the potential to create severe psychological and/or physical dependence. As the drug schedule changes– Schedule II, Schedule III, etc., so does the abuse potential– Schedule V drugs represents the least potential for abuse.
Whether you will be charged with a misdemeanor or felony depends upon what type/schedule of drugs were found in your possession, how much of the drug was found in your possession and if you have any previous criminal offenses.
Are There Defenses to Possession of a Controlled Substance in South Carolina?
You may have defenses available to you for possession of a controlled substance. These defenses include:
- Duress: It could be that you were forced under the threat of being harmed to have the drugs in your possession.
- Intoxication: Depending on your individual circumstances, you may be able to use intoxication as a defense if you were unable to form the needed intention for a criminal charge
- Proper Prescription: Depending upon the controlled substance found in your possession, your criminal defense attorney may argue that you had a valid prescription or a license to have possession of the controlled substance.
It’s important to note that if you plan on using intoxication as a defense, voluntary intoxication is completely different than involuntary intoxication. For example, there’s a difference between getting drunk and having your drink spiked with something that you had no knowledge of.
What Could Happen if This is My First Offense for Possession of a Controlled Substance?
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be given alternate sentencing options. Your skilled criminal defense attorney can be extremely helpful to you in this matter.
Do I Need a South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Possession of a controlled substance in South Carolina could mean you are facing very serious consequences. It’s in your own best interest to hire one of the criminal defense lawyers at the Greenville, South Carolina law firm of Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, L.L.C. so you can learn what your legal options are and have a strong advocate at your side in court to fight for your rights.