Marijuana Fines, Penalties, and Sentencing in SC

by | Mar 30, 2016 | Criminal Defense, Drug Charges |

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Despite the fact that marijuana has been legalized in a handful of states for medical and recreational use, possession or distribution of the drug is still very much illegal in South Carolina.

Whether you’re a frequent user, an occasional “social” user of marijuana, or your friend left a dime bag in your car, if you are caught with marijuana by law enforcement in South Carolina, you will face legal consequences.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a marijuana crime, it’s important that you take steps to manage your situation. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the laws that will affect your case. And you’ll definitely want to find a drug attorney that can help you navigate the confusing and stressful legal road that lies ahead.

There are several different marijuana charges ranging from misdemeanors with minor fines to felonies with lengthy prison sentences. The least of the marijuana-related charges is for possession of paraphernalia.

Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia

What is paraphernalia?

In the eyes of the law, marijuana paraphernalia includes any object used in the marijuana supply chain. That means any item that’s used to grow or harvest the drug, process and store it, or anything that aids in the sale or use of marijuana.

Having marijuana paraphernalia, however, is not categorized as a drug charge per se. However you can still be prosecuted in criminal court, and have a record for the same. Also it can cost you financially, and you will be ticketed.

Classification Jail Time Fine
Misdemeanor Possible up to 30 days $0 to $500

Simple Possession

Being charged with simple possession of marijuana means that law enforcement found a small quantity of the drug in your possession. This typically means that the marijuana you had was for personal use and that you weren’t planning to sell it to another person.

In order to be charged with simple possession, you must be found to have an amount that equals 28 grams (1 ounce) or less of marijuana. Actually possessing any amount of the drug could lead to jail time. It is in the judge’s discretion to sentence you to jail, or pay a fine. With a 2nd offense, the judge can even give you a longer jail sentence!

Offense Classification Jail Time Fine
First offense Misdemeanor Between 0-30 days $100 to $200
Second offense Misdemeanor Up to 12 months $200 to $1,000

Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID)

A charge of PWID (or Possession with Intent to Distribute) implies that you were planning to sell some or all of the marijuana in your possession to other people.

Whether or not you are charged with PWID is determined based on how much weight of marijuana was found in your possession. Essentially, having certain quantities of marijuana are considered to be too much for personal use–specifically, more than 28 grams or more than one ounce.

In that case, the assumption is that you were intending to distribute the drugs by selling them to others–even if it really was just for personal use. If this is the case, you will be charged with PWID.

This is significant because the severity of the drug charge jumps from a misdemeanor for simple possession to a felony for PWID. As with simple possession 2nd offense, the judge can sentence you to jail, give you a fine, or both.

Offense Classification Jail Time Fine
First offense Felony up to 5 years $0 and $5,000
Second offense Felony up to 10 years $0 and $10,000
Third offense Felony between 5-20 years $0 and $20,000

Trafficking

A trafficking charge generally means that you were found to have a large amount of marijuana to distribute and sell around the state. Trafficking charges are not used in cases with a few ounces of marijuana. Instead, trafficking cases tend to deal with pounds of marijuana that are discovered.

The consequences for a trafficking charge take into account how many pounds were found as well as the number of prior offenses. All things considered, there are serious penalties for trafficking marijuana in South Carolina. With this charge you can get jail time AND a fine.

LBS of marijuana Offense Classification Jail Time Fine
10 to 99 First offense Felony Between 1-10 years $10,000
10 to 99 Second offense Felony Between 5-20 years $15,000
10 to 99 Third offense Felony 25 years $25,000
100-1,999 Any offense Felony 25 years $25,000
2,000-9,999 Any offense Felony 25 years $50,000
10,000 or more Any offense Felony Between 25-30 years with a mandatory minimum of 25 years $200,000

Don’t Wait. Get the legal help you need & deserve.

Facing marijuana charges is a potentially life-altering process that could include major fines, jail time and other repercussions. You and your family don’t need to face this challenging time alone.

Our experienced attorney is here to fight for your rights and your best interest, whatever the situation. Contact the team at Coastal Law for a free consultation to discuss your case.

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