The SC criminal defense lawyers at Coastal Law know that, if you have drug trafficking charges in Myrtle Beach, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight to win your case.
- Drug trafficking charges are the most serious drug charges in SC – most carry mandatory minimum sentences and are no-parole offenses;
- SC prosecutors are not likely to offer reduced charges that do not include jail time unless you can show them why they do not have a strong case for trial;
- Drug trafficking cases can be complex, with multiple defenses including constitutional defenses that require extensive legal research and motions to suppress; and
- If your drug trafficking charges go to trial, your life and freedom will be in the hands of your criminal defense lawyer.
The criminal defense and drug lawyers at Coastal Law have extensive experience in criminal defense, including drug trafficking charges and trial practice in SC.
If you are facing drug trafficking charges in Myrtle Beach, the state is already building their case against you and preparing for trial. You need an experienced defense lawyer right now to do the same for you – investigating your case, preparing for trial, and negotiating for you.
Your attorney at Coastal Law understands what is stake when you are facing drug trafficking charges, and we will do everything legally and ethically possible to win your case before you are sent to prison.
How Can a SC Lawyer Help with Drug Trafficking Charges in Myrtle Beach?
Your defense lawyer at Coastal Law has extensive experience with a range of defenses that may be available depending on the facts of your case.
Depending on the facts of your case, the available defenses, the likelihood that we can get key evidence suppressed at trial, and the availability of the government’s witnesses, your drug trafficking charges in Myrtle Beach could be dismissed before trial, reduced to less serious charges, or you could be acquitted at trial.
What are some of the more common defenses we raise in drug trafficking cases?
Fourth Amendment Violations
The most common defense to drug trafficking charges in Myrtle Beach involves motions to suppress evidence based on Fourth Amendment violations. The law that applies and whether the drugs or other evidence can be suppressed depends on the details of your case:
Traffic stop? Although a search warrant is not required, police must have probable cause or, in some cases, an articulable, reasonable suspicion to search your vehicle. Were you in someone else’s vehicle? Even though you were a passenger, you may still have standing to object to an unlawful search.
Drugs found in your home or hotel room? Police must have a valid search warrant based on probable cause before they can search, although there are exceptions that include emergencies, plain view, or “hot pursuit.”
There are potentially hundreds of possible fact patterns where drugs or other evidence can be suppressed based on Fourth Amendment or other constitutional violations, and your attorney must be able to recognize those situations, spot the issues, and find the case law that applies in your case.
In many cases, a “confession” or other statements made by the defendant is the government’s best evidence at trial – if you were 1) in custody and 2) made statements 3) in response to questioning by a government agent 4) who did not read your Miranda rights to you, the statements may be excluded from your trial.
Mere presence at the scene of a crime is not enough to convict a person.
When the drugs were not found on your person, the government will try to prove “constructive possession.” To get a conviction, they will need to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that you:
- Had “dominion and control” over the drugs – they were close enough to you that you could reach out and take them, they were found in your vehicle that you either owned or were driving, or they belonged to you; and
- You knew that the drugs were there.
If the drugs belonged to someone else, even if you were present at the location where the drugs were found, you are not guilty of drug trafficking charges (unless your prosecution is based on conspiracy, in which case the analysis is different).
If the government’s case is based on a government informant and that informant has disappeared or has severe, provable credibility issues, it may become more difficult for the government to prosecute you.
In some cases, when an informant is key to the government’s case, it is worthwhile for your attorney to extensively investigate that informant’s background including:
- Whether they are still using or selling drugs;
- What criminal charges they have pending or what the government is paying them for their testimony;
- Whether they have lied to obtain convictions for profit or reduced sentences in the past; and
- Whether they have made statements to other individuals about your case that they can be impeached with at trial.
Believe it or not, sometimes police get the wrong person.
This is why it is critical for your attorney to review all evidence in your case including any audio or video recordings, especially when there is a question about who sold the drugs in an undercover operation.
What are the Penalties for Drug Trafficking Charges in Myrtle Beach?
Drug trafficking offenses in SC are usually based on possession, although they could also be based on conspiracy.
In most cases, what makes a charge trafficking, instead of simple possession or possession with intent to distribute, is the weight of the drugs found. There is a threshold weight for each type of drug that 1) makes it a trafficking offense, and 2) determines the severity and potential penalties of the trafficking offense.
Heroin Drug Trafficking Charges in Myrtle Beach SC
Trafficking in heroin is the most serious drug offense in SC. The threshold amount for trafficking in heroin is only four grams, and the penalty for 28 grams or more can be as high as 40 years in prison – the most jail time possible for any drug offense in SC. All heroin trafficking offenses in SC have mandatory minimum sentences.
- 4-14 grams of heroin first offense: no less than seven years up to 25 years in prison;
- 4-14 grams of heroin second offense: mandatory 25 years;
- 14-28 grams of heroin first offense or greater: mandatory 25 years; and
- 28 grams or more of heroin: no less than 25 and up to 40 years in prison.
Cocaine Drug Trafficking Charges in Myrtle Beach SC
Any amount greater than 10 grams is charged as trafficking in cocaine in SC, and the potential penalties for cocaine trafficking are found in SC Code Section 44-53-370(e)(2). All cocaine trafficking offenses in SC have mandatory minimum sentences.
The potential penalties for trafficking in cocaine, crack cocaine, or meth are the same in SC:
- 10-28 grams of cocaine, crack cocaine, or meth:
- First offense: three to ten years;
- Second offense: five to thirty years;
- Third offense: 25 to 30 years;
- 28-100 grams of cocaine, crack cocaine, or meth:
- First offense: seven to twenty-five years;
- Second offense: seven to thirty years;
- Third offense: 25 to 30 years;
- 100-200 grams of cocaine, crack cocaine, or meth: mandatory 25 years;
- 200-400 grams of cocaine, crack cocaine, or meth: mandatory 25 years; and
- Greater than 400 grams of cocaine, crack cocaine, or meth: 25 to 30 years.
Marijuana Drug Trafficking Charges in Myrtle Beach SC
The threshold weight for charges of trafficking in marijuana is one pound, and the potential penalties for marijuana trafficking are found in SC Code Section 44-53-370(e)(1). All marijuana trafficking offenses in SC have mandatory minimum sentences:
- One to one hundred pounds of marijuana:
- First offense: one to ten years;
- Second offense: five to twenty years;
- Third offense: mandatory 25 years;
- 100-2000 pounds of marijuana: mandatory 25 years;
- 2000-10,000 pounds of marijuana: mandatory 25 years; and
- 10,000 pounds or more of marijuana: 25 – 30 years.
Drug Trafficking Charges in Myrtle Beach, SC
If you have been arrested for drug trafficking charges in Myrtle Beach SC, you are looking at mandatory minimum sentences and years in prison.
Whether you win or lose will depend in part on whether you have a defense lawyer who has experience with drug trafficking charges in Myrtle Beach SC, who can spot the potential issues that may result in suppression of the evidence or statements, and who knows how to try a trafficking case to a jury when necessary.