Nearly 95 million people in the United States have admitted to trying marijuana at least once. So the odds are, you know at least one person who’s used the drug.
But the popularity of marijuana doesn’t mean much in a state like South Carolina, where it’s illegal and punished severely.
The bottom line is this: If you’re pulled over or otherwise caught in possession of marijuana, there will be consequences. For those reasons, it’s important to understand the marijuana laws in South Carolina and what will happen if you break them.
The consequences of marijuana possession depend on several different factors, including:
- How much marijuana you were carrying, and
- What you intended to do with the drugs.
Types of marijuana possession charges in SC
Simple possession is a misdemeanor in South Carolina. If you’re caught with 28 grams or less, you can be charged with this crime.
If convicted of simple possession, you could face possible fines and up to 30 days in jail. You’ll also lose your driver’s license for 30 days.
If you’ve been convicted of possession in the past, you’ll face even tougher penalties. Known as simple possession 2nd, it’s still a misdemeanor, but can lead to a full year in jail, along with fines and the loss of your license.
Possession of hashish
It is also illegal to possess marijuana concentrates like hashish. The more you’re caught with, the greater your penalty.
Simple possession of 10 grams or less of hashish is a misdemeanor and can lead to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine. If you’re caught with more than 10 grams, you can face up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Possession of Paraphernalia
Possessing drug paraphernalia, like bongs and pipes, is not a criminal charge. This means it’s not a misdemeanor or a felony. But it does result in a civil fine and possible inclusion on your arrest record.
How can I be found guilty of possession?
There are two separate ways you can be charged with simple possession of marijuana in SC; actual possession and constructive possession. What’s the difference?
“Actual possession” means that the drugs were found on your body. That could mean in your hand, in your pocket, in a bag you’re carrying or even shoved in your sock or underwear.
“Constructive possession” means that the marijuana was found in a space where you have control. This could be:
- Your car glove box,
- A nightstand drawer, or
- A kitchen cabinet.
In any case, the State must prove you were in possession of the drug to get a conviction.
Questions about possession of marijuana
What if the drugs in the car weren't mine?
It’s a myth that if one person in a vehicle where marijuana is found claims the drugs as their own, that the rest of the passengers are safe. Unfortunately, everyone in the vehicle could be charged with possession of illegal drugs in South Carolina, even if you didn’t know about the drugs.
The law states that police can charge multiple people with possession of the same drugs if they’re sharing the same space with the marijuana.
Where are simple possession cases heard?
A simple possession hearing will take place in a municipal or Magistrate Court. Throughout your case, you are entitled to “due process” or the right to be assumed innocent and a trial by jury.
What If I’m caught with more than 28 grams of marijuana?
If you’re found to be in possession of an amount of marijuana exceeding 28 grams, or you’re otherwise determined to be intending to sell the drug, you can be charged with possession with the intent to distribute (PWID).
But the amount you’re caught with isn’t the only thing used in deciding this charge. Additional factors include:
- The presence of scales or other measuring devices,
- Having the marijuana in separate containers or bags or
- Text messages or other communication that displays your intent to sell the marijuana.
The consequences are stricter for a PWID conviction. This is a felony. A first offense carries a possible fine of $5,000 and five years in prison. Additional PWID convictions result in even stiffer penalties, with a third offense leading up to 20 years behind bars and a $20,000 fine.
When am I guilty of a felony?
Being convicted of PWID is considered a felony in South Carolina. But that’s not the only felony marijuana charge. Others include:
Distribution- Actually selling marijuana; same penalties as PWID
Manufacturing- Growing marijuana; same penalties as PWID
Trafficking- Selling or distributing large amounts of marijuana; most severe penalties.
Trafficking between 10 and 100 pounds of marijuana can lead to up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If this isn’t your first offense, the punishments are even more serious, with the worst carrying up to 30 year prison terms and massive fines of up to $200,000. Possession of 1 oz. or more of marijuana is always considered trafficking — no matter what.
What can I do now?
If you’ve been charged with a marijuana crime in the Charleston, South Carolina area, you need a criminal defense attorney in your corner, fighting for the best results possible. Don’t leave it to chance. The odds are not in your favor.
Call us at (843) 261-7026 or fill out this online form for a free, no-obligation consultation.