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Possession of cocaine is a very serious criminal offense in South Carolina.

Whether you’ve only experimented with cocaine recreationally or are struggling with addiction, if you’ve been arrested with this controlled substance in your possession, your finances, career, reputation and freedom are seriously at risk.

And if you want a chance at protecting the life you’ve worked so hard to build, then you’re going to need the help of an experienced drug lawyer.

The consequences of cocaine possession depend on several different factors, including:

  • - How much cocaine you were carrying
  • - Previous drug offenses
  • - What you intended to do with the drug.

Possession charges

Once you’re charged, the State can’t convict you without proving you’re guilty of at least what is known as “simple possession of cocaine.” The burden falls on them to demonstrate at least one of the following:

“Actual possession” means drugs were found on your person, whether in your hand, pocket, bag or hidden inside clothing.

“Constructive possession” means the cocaine was found in a space over that you have control, such as your car or home.

Simple possession

But what does simple possession mean for you in simple terms? When you’re charged with simple possession of cocaine in SC—possessing one gram or less—your first offense will be considered a misdemeanor.

But if you’re thinking that doesn’t sound too serious, think again. A first offense of simple possession of cocaine may require up to 3 years in jail and $5,000 in fines. Not to mention, subsequent offenses are considered a felony, and the consequences of a conviction could cost you tens of thousands of dollars and up to 10 years in prison.

Cocaine 1st: 0-3 years and or $0-$5,000

Cocaine 2nd: 0-5 years and or $0-$7,500

Cocaine 3rd: 0-10 years and or $0-$12,500

Intent to distribute

Intent to distribute is a serious crime, carrying frightening consequences. According to SC Code of Laws, these include as much as a 30-year sentence for a mere third offense, as well as fines of up to $50,000.

As you can see from the chart, there’s not much room for leniency, even in the case of first offenses:

Cocaine 1st Offense: 0-15 years and or $0-25,000

Cocaine 2nd Offense: 5-30 years and or $0-50,000

Cocaine 3rd Offense: 10-30 years and or $0-50,000

Common Questions Cocaine Charges in SC

What if the drugs weren’t mine?

This is a question we get asked a lot. Unfortunately, when police find drugs in a car, everyone inside will probably be charged with possession. The law states that you are responsible and may be charged in these circumstances:

  • - There are illegal drugs present
  • - The police can prove you knew about them
  • - You have control over the location where they were found.

Remember: While such “constructive possession” is different in name from “actual possession,” it’s still considered a serious criminal matter.

What if I have a previous drug charge?

Sadly, your situation is even more serious if you’ve ever been convicted of drug charges for any amount of a substance–even if your possession or distributing charges were for a drug other than cocaine.

If you’ve had just one conviction for simple possession of marijuana, getting arrested for cocaine possession could be considered a second offense.

Is possession with intent to distribute a felony?


If you’re found to be in possession of an amount of cocaine larger than one gram—or you’re otherwise determined to be intending to sell—you can be charged with possession with the intent to distribute (PWID).

In addition to the amount you’re caught with, additional factors also influence how charges are determined:

  • - The presence of measuring devices like scales
  • - Having separated the substance into smaller containers
  • - Communications, such as text messages, which indicate your intent to sell.

What can I do now?

If you’ve been charged with a drug crime in the Charleston, South Carolina area, the odds are not in your favor. You need someone in your corner, fighting for the best outcome possible.

Dial (843) 261-7026 or fill out this online form for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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