If you are facing a drug possession charge, the most important issue is protecting your rights and obtaining the most favorable case resolution possible, which means that you need professional legal counsel on your side.
While pleading guilty in a plea deal can sometimes be advantageous, doing so doesn’t always end in a favorable resolution. Before moving forward with any kind of plea, it’s always in your best interest to consult with an experienced South Carolina drug charge defense attorney.
Drug Possession Charges in South Carolina
If you are hit with a drug possession charge, it’s important to recognize that it is specific to the facts in your case, which means that your defense strategy will also be specific to these facts. Drug possession charges can vary considerably based on a wide range of factors, including:
- The circumstances surrounding your arrest
- Any prior criminal record
- The type of drug in question
- The amount of the drug in question
South Carolina employs threshold weights, and when the amount in question exceeds this limitation, the charge of simple possession can be elevated to possession with intent to distribute.
A common possession charge in South Carolina is simple possession of marijuana. Although recreational marijuana has been legalized in several states across the nation, it has not been in South Carolina.
A conviction for a charge related to even a small amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor that can saddle you with up to 30 days in jail, and a second offense carries a sentence of up to a year behind bars. In other words, bringing your strongest defense against even a relatively minor drug charge is paramount.
Potential Outcomes of a Drug Charge in South Carolina
While possession charges related to small amounts of marijuana are generally misdemeanors, charges related to more serious Schedule I drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, or prescription opiates, tend to be felony charges, which come with far harsher fines and penalties. There is a range of potential outcomes — in terms of how you proceed — for a felony possession charge.
Having the charge dropped
To bring a successful charge, the prosecution needs sufficient evidence that was legally obtained, and the laws that guide the collection of evidence are exacting. Your drug charge attorney will skillfully advocate having your possession charge dropped if there is any chance of doing so. If the prosecution decides not to move forward with the charge against you, you can later move to have the arrest expunged from your record.
Having the case dismissed
If the state’s case is determined to be flawed, it can be dismissed by the court, and if this dismissal is with prejudice, it means that the state can’t come after you on the same charge at a later date. Your drug charge attorney will carefully examine the state’s case for any legal irregularities or missteps.
Proceeding to drug court
Drug court is designed to address the accused’s underlying drug problem – rather than the crime of possession. It’s important to note, however, that if you do qualify for and choose drug court, you will be pleading guilty to the underlying drug charge.
Once you successfully complete an 18-month program that includes counseling, required check-ins, and random drug tests — in lieu of a jail sentence — your drug charge will be dismissed and will become eligible for expungement.
Accepting a diversion
For first-time offenders of nonviolent charges, such as possession charges, pretrial intervention (PTI) may be available. PTI, much like drug court, requires both a guilty plea to the drug charge and careful adherence to all the conditions set forth by the court. This option, in addition to random drug tests, often includes a considerable amount of community service.
Upon your successful completion of the requirements, however, your record will be cleared of the conviction.
Making a plea deal
You’re facing a drug charge, and a conviction carries serious fines and penalties, which means that you and your savvy drug charge attorney will be carefully weighing your options.
Sometimes, making a plea deal — in which you face a less serious charge or accept a less harsh sentence in exchange for pleading guilty — is a good option for some. For example, if you’re facing a felony charge and can plead it down to a misdemeanor, you will still have a criminal record. The results are likely to be less damaging, however.
While a plea deal for a drug charge can be an excellent option, you and your attorney will need to weigh the matter carefully in light of the specifics involved.
Going to trial
While most drug charges are resolved prior to trial, you retain the right to a trial, and if you have a strong case, beating the charge and being found not guilty is obviously the end goal. If you do go to court, however, you also face the risk of being found guilty of the possession charge and being sentenced accordingly.
Impacts of Your Drug Possession Case in South Carolina
It is important to recognize that being convicted of a possession charge has not only difficult legal consequences but also harsh social consequences due to the public nature of the attendant criminal record.
This can include:
- Having difficulty renting a house or apartment
- Having difficulty obtaining a home loan
- Having difficulty obtaining work
- Taking a hit in terms of overall social standing
- Having difficulty furthering your education due to exclusion from federal student loans
Making the right choice for you in your unique situation is critical, and while you may – in limited circumstances – choose to plead guilty to the charge, you shouldn’t do so without carefully examining all your options with your dedicated drug charge attorney.
Contact Our South Carolina Drug Charge Attorneys for Help
If you are facing a drug possession charge, the skilled drug possession attorneys at Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey in Greenville, SC are well acquainted with the gravity of your situation and are well prepared to help.
Your future is important to us, so please don’t wait to reach out and contact or call us at 864-523-6928 for more information today.