Drug Charge Lawyer in Charleston
Defending Against Controlled Substances Offenses in Charleston, Summerville, and Throughout South Carolina
Law enforcement officials take seriously any conduct involving controlled substances in South Carolina. Prosecutors will do what is necessary to attempt to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Depending on the specifics, an offense can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. A conviction can carry lengthy terms of incarceration and high fines. If you face charges for any drug crime in South Carolina, you need a vigorous defense throughout your case. Attacking allegations in these matters can be challenging, but with a skilled Charleston drug crime attorney on your side, you can identify weaknesses in proof and build a compelling legal strategy to tell your side of the story.
At Thurmond Kirchner & Timbes, P.A., our drug crimes defense lawyers have handled criminal matters of varying complexity in Charleston, Summerville, and the surrounding areas. We know the law, and we know what it takes to get results. Our team will protect your rights in and out of court, seeking to secure the best possible legal outcome for you. We will be your advocates every step of the way. Recognizing that you may have several concerns about your case, we will be available to provide clear, straightforward answers.
South Carolina's Drug Schedules
In South Carolina, controlled substances are separated into 5 categories (referred to as schedules), conforming to those enumerated under federal law.
The schedules are distinguished by the severity of the drugs, and include the following:
- Schedule I: These substances have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Drugs in this classification include, but are not limited to heroin, MDMA (ecstasy), LSD, and psilocybin.
- Schedule II: Substances in this classification also have a high potential for abuse, but they are used for medical purposes under strict regulations. These drugs can also cause severe physical or psychological dependence. Examples include fentanyl, methadone, amphetamine, and methamphetamine.
- Schedule III: This group consists of substances with a high potential for abuse but less so than those in Schedules I or II. They may be used for medical purposes, and the risk of them causing physical or psychological dependence is low to moderate. Some of these drugs include, but are not limited to benzphetamine, chlorphentermine, clortermine, and nalorphene.
- Schedule IV: Relative to the substances in Schedules I through III, the potential for abuse of drugs in this category is low, as is the risk of physical or psychological dependence. They may also be used in medical treatments. Included in Schedule IV are depressants, such as barbital and clonazepam, and stimulants, such as diethylpropion and phentermine.
- Schedule V: Compared to Schedule I through IV substances, these are considered the least dangerous drugs, with a low potential for abuse and limited risk of causing physical or psychological dependence. There is also an accepted medical use for them. In this classification are substances with limited amounts of narcotics such as codeine and opium.
Understanding the controlled substances schedules is important because laws refer to them to define prohibited conduct and enumerate penalties.
Types of Drug Crimes in South Carolina
Nearly anything involving drugs is considered unlawful. South Carolina Code of Laws lists various types of prohibited conduct. Because each has specific elements and penalties, we'll address the different drug laws in their own sections.
Drug Manufacturing Laws in South Carolina
Unlawfully producing or selling drugs is a crime.
South Carolina law specifically forbids doing any of the following with a controlled substance, controlled substance analog, or counterfeit substance:
- Possessing with intent to do any of the above
Depending on the type and quantity of the substance involved, an offense is either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Below are a few examples of drug manufacturing penalties in South Carolina:
Schedule I or Schedule II narcotic drug and LSD (felony):
- Up to 15 years in prison and/or
- Up to $5,000 in fines
Schedule IV substances (misdemeanor):
- Up to 3 years in jail and/or
- Up to $3,000 in fines
Schedule V substance (misdemeanor):
- Up to 1 year in jail and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines
Note that the penalties listed above are first offenses. They increase for each subsequent conviction.
If you've been charged with manufacturing a controlled substance, speak with our Charleston drug crimes attorneys as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Drug Possession in South Carolina
South Carolina law enumerates two different types of drug possession: actual and constructive.
Actual possession means you have the drug in your physical possession, such as in a pocket or purse.
Constructive means that you might not have the drug on you, but you know where it is and you can exercise dominion or control over it.
Possessing drugs is different from just being in the presence of them. Possession indicates some level of ownership or influence over them. South Carolina Code of Laws Section 44-53-370 prohibits people from knowingly possessing a controlled substance. The only time having a drug or drugs is legal is when a physician lawfully prescribed them. The potential conviction penalties for drug possession depend on the substance and the defendant's criminal history.
A few of the punishments include, but are not limited to:
Possession of a Schedule I or II narcotic drug or LSD:
- First offense (misdemeanor): Up to 2 years in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines
- Second offense (felony): Up to 5 years in prison and/or up to $5,000 in fines
- Third or subsequent offense (felony): Up to 5 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines
Possession of other substances in Schedules I through V:
- First offense (misdemeanor): Up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines
- Second or subsequent offense (misdemeanor): Up to 1 year in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines
Possession of cocaine:
- First offense (misdemeanor): Up to 3 years in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines
- Second offense (felony): Up to 5 years in prison and/or up to $7,500 in fines
Drug Trafficking in South Carolina
In the eyes of the law, drug trafficking is a separate offense from drug possession. Trafficking is when a person possesses more than a specified quantity of drugs. The alleged offender doesn't need to have planned to sell the substances to be charged with trafficking. Having illegal amounts of it is sufficient to be prosecuted under South Carolina Code of Laws Section 44-53-370. The potential penalties depend on the substance, the amount, and the accused's previous convictions.
Below are a couple of examples of drug trafficking penalties:
10 pounds or more but less than 100 pounds:
- Between 1 and 10 years in prison, and
- $10,000 fine
100 pounds or more but less than 2,000 pounds:
- 25 years in prison and
- $25,000 fine
10 grams or more but less than 28 grams:
- Between 3 and 10 years in prison, and
- $25,000 fine
28 grams or more but less than 100 grams:
- Between 7 and 25 years in prison, and
- $50,000 fine
The prison terms and fines listed above are those for a first offense. If a person has one or more prior convictions, they face enhanced penalties.
Being found guilty of drug trafficking can severely alter the course of your life. At Thurmond Kirchner & Timbes, P.A., we are ready to fight to protect your future. Reach out to our Charleston drug crimes lawyers today.
Charleston Drug Crime Attorneys
If you've been charged with drug manufacturing, possession, or trafficking, getting help from a seasoned Charleston drug crimes attorney with experience in this arena is crucial. At Thurmond Kirchner & Timbes, P.A., we know the intricacies of South Carolina's laws and can work to build and present a thorough defense on your behalf.
Our drug crime lawyers in Charleston have successfully helped past clients*. We'll handle your matter discreetly and work tirelessly to seek a just result for you. From beginning to end, you'll have access to our team to answer questions and keep you informed about your case's progress.
* The results achieved on behalf of one client in one matter do not necessarily indicate that similar results can be obtained for another client.