Do we have mandatory minimum sentences in SC?

Although SC does not have formal sentencing guidelines like the federal courts or some other states, we do have mandatory minimum sentences in SC. A lot of them…

To determine whether an offense has a mandatory minimum sentence in SC, you must look at the statute where the crime (or penalty) is defined. Most offenses will have a potential upper limit on punishment – judges cannot sentence a person to more prison time than is allowed by the statute.

Many criminal statutes in SC also have a mandatory minimum sentence, though. If you are convicted of a crime that has a mandatory minimum sentence in SC, the court cannot sentence you to less time than the mandatory minimum regardless of the circumstances, your mitigation, or what seems fair…

Below, we will look at three “categories” of crimes that often have mandatory minimum sentences in SC, including drug crimes, DUI offenses, and violent crimes. 

Mandatory Minimum Sentences in SC for Drug Crimes

Although simple possession drug offenses in SC do not have mandatory minimum sentences, all other drug offenses do, including possession with intent to distribute, distribution, and trafficking offenses. The penalties for most SC drug crimes can be found in SC Code Section 44-53-370.

Possession with Intent to Distribute

Mandatory minimum sentences in SC for possession with intent to distribute (PWID) offenses include:

  • PWID marijuana third offense – five-year minimum;
  • PWID cocaine, crack cocaine or heroin second offense – five-year minimum; and
  • PWID cocaine, crack cocaine or heroin third offense – ten-year minimum. 

Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug Distribution

Drug distribution offenses in SC have the same penalties as possession with intent to distribute:

  • PWID marijuana third offense – five-year minimum;
  • PWID cocaine, crack cocaine or heroin second offense – five-year minimum; and
  • PWID cocaine, crack cocaine or heroin third offense – ten-year minimum. 

Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking offenses in SC carry the harshest penalties, including substantial mandatory minimum sentences. 

Trafficking in Marijuana

  • 1 – 100 pounds first offense – one-year minimum;
  • 1 – 100 pounds second offense – five years minimum;
  • 1 – 100 pounds third offense – 25-year minimum;
  • 100 – 2000 pounds – 25-year minimum;
  • 2000 – 10,000 pounds – 25-year minimum; and 
  • 10,000 pounds or more – 25-year minimum. 

Trafficking in Cocaine, Crack, or Methamphetamine

  • 10 – 28 grams first offense – three-year minimum;
  • 10-28 grams second offense – five-year minimum;
  • 10-28 grams third offense – 25-year minimum;
  • 28-100 grams first or second offense – seven-year minimum;
  • 28-100 grams third offense – 25-year minimum;
  • 100-200 grams – 25-year minimum;
  • 200-400 grams – 25-year minimum; and
  • More than 400 grams – 25-year minimum. 

Trafficking in Heroin 

  • 4 – 14 grams first offense – seven-year minimum;
  • 4-14 grams second offense or greater – 25-year mandatory minimum;
  • 14-28 grams – 25-year minimum; and
  • 28 grams or more – 25-year minimum. 

Mandatory Minimum Sentences in SC for DUI Offenses

Almost all DUI offenses now have mandatory minimum sentences in SC, although in some cases the court can order community service in lieu of the mandatory minimum sentence. The penalties are the same for driving under the influence (DUI) and driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC). 

DUI First Offense

  • BAC less than .10 – 48-hour mandatory minimum sentence or 48 hours of community service;
  • BAC .10 to .15 – 72-hour mandatory minimum sentence or 72 hours of community service; and
  • BAC .16 or greater – 30-day mandatory minimum sentence or 30 days of community service. 

DUI Second Offense

  • BAC less than .10 – five-day mandatory minimum sentence;
  • BAC .10 to .15 – 30-day mandatory minimum sentence; and
  • BAC .16 or greater – 90-day mandatory minimum sentence

DUI Third Offense

  • BAC less than .10 – 60-day mandatory minimum sentence;
  • BAC .10 to .15 – 90-day mandatory minimum sentence; and
  • BAC .16 or greater – six months mandatory minimum sentence.  

Felony DUI

  • Resulting in great bodily injury – 30-day mandatory minimum sentence; or
  • Resulting in death – One-year mandatory minimum sentence. 

Mandatory Minimum Sentences in SC for Violent Crimes

Crimes that the legislature has decided are more serious also tend to be given a mandatory minimum sentence in SC. There is no separate rule that says which crimes will have a mandatory minimum sentence or how long it will be – you must read the criminal statute for the specific crime to determine the minimum and maximum penalties. 

Examples of other crimes in SC that have mandatory minimum sentences include:

  • Murder;
  • Manslaughter;
  • Armed robbery;
  • Burglary in the first degree; and
  • Arson. 

How Can I Get Around a Mandatory Minimum Sentence in SC?

If you are convicted of the crime, you can’t. That’s the point of a mandatory minimum sentence…

If you are charged with a crime that carries a mandatory minimum sentence, you can get out of it if 1) your case is dismissed, 2) the prosecutor offers a plea deal for a reduced charge that does not have a mandatory minimum sentence, 3) a jury convicts you of a lesser included offense that does not have a mandatory minimum sentence, or 4) you are acquitted at trial. 

SC Criminal Defense Lawyers in Myrtle Beach

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in the Myrtle Beach, SC area, do not delay. Call the Myrtle Beach criminal defense attorneys at Coastal Law now at (843) 488-5000 or email us through our website to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.

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