Greenville Drug charge Lawyer
The sale, purchase, distribution, trafficking, manufacture, possession with intent to distribute, and possession of controlled substances are unlawful drug offenses in Greenville, South Carolina, and both the Circuit Solicitor’s Office and law enforcement vigorously prosecute such crimes.
When one is convicted of a drug-related offence, you will likely face lengthy prison terms, onerous conditions, heavy fines, a strain on the ability to support your loved ones, and an overall lifetime of hardship it terms of renting a property, seeking employment, and child custody.
That’s why it is important to use everything in your arsenal to fight the charges, including hiring a dedicated Greenville drug charge lawyer.
The Most Common Illegal Drugs
Our state divides drugs into six schedules, ranging from I to VI. Drugs that fall under the schedule I umbrella are the most drastically punished, and usually include highly addictive street drugs, such as:
- Stimulants such as mephedrone
- Opiates such as heroin
- Depressants such as quaaludes
- Hallucinogens such as ecstasy, LSD and MDMA
Drugs classified as schedule II are those that are highly addicted and are often the most abused, but may be used in the treatment of medical conditions. Such drugs include:
- Opiate-based painkillers such as morphine
- Depressants such as PCP
- Stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin
Schedule II drugs are those with moderate potential for addiction and are often accepted as treatment for medical issues. These drugs include depressants such as sedatives and anesthetics.
Moving down the list, schedule IV drugs have a lower potential for addiction and are also commonly used in medical treatments, these drugs include:
- Stimulants such as weight loss pies
- Depressants such as clonazepam
Second-to-last are schedule V drugs which have a low potential for addition and are widely used for medical treatment with limited likelihood of dependence, such as: Tylenol with codeine.
Finally, schedule VI drugs have the lowest potential for addiction but are not acceptable for medical treatments, such as marijuana.
What Are the Penalties for Greenville Drug Offenses?
Penalties for drug offenses in Greenville, South Carolina tend to vary depending on the type of offense, the controlled substance, and the amount of controlled substance. Below is an outline of penalties for the most commonly prosecuted drugs.
- Up to 30 days imprisonment for possession, or a fine of $100 – $200
- Up to 5 years imprisonment or a fine of up to $5,000 for the manufacture, distribution, and possession with intent to distribute
- One to ten years imprisonment and up to $10,000 fine for trafficking
- Two to five years imprisonment for possession, and a fine of at least $5,000
- 15 – 20 years imprisonment or a fine of up to $25,000 for the manufacture, distribution, and possession with intent to distribute
- 25 years imprisonment and up to $50,000 fine for trafficking
- Up to two years’ imprisonment for possession, and a fine of at least $5,000
- 15 years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $25,000 for the manufacture, distribution, and possession with intent to distribute
- 3 – 10 years’ imprisonment and up to $25,000 fine for trafficking
What About Search Warrants for Drug Offenses in Greenville?
If a law enforcement official has probable cause to believe that one has drugs on them, the police officer can search the person for contraband. Furthermore, one may be searched if they are being arrested for something else at the time of the search. But, to search a home, law enforcement officials must have your consent or be in possession of a search warrant. No one should ever feel pressured to give consent, but if you do give consent and drugs are found on your property, you face limited constitutional rights and should seek the advice of a dedicate drug charge lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina.
A search warrant is a legal piece of paper that is signed by a judge and gives law enforcement the necessary authority to enter your address. When officers effectuate a search warrant, they are obligated to knock on the door and announce themselves before they enter a property.
How a Drug charge Lawyer Can Help You Defend Against Charges
The precise defenses for your case will vary depending on the facts of the case. Common defenses, however, include:
- Lack of probable cause for arrest
- Drugs belong to another person
- Lack of knowledge
- There is a valid prescription
- Lack of valid search warrant
- Incriminating statement solicited without relevant Miranda warnings
- Lack of consent to search
- No intent to manufacture or distribute
While some drugs may be legal throughout the United States, drug use and the legality thereof, is still a major concern for our criminal justice system. Drug use rates continue to soar, and many people find themselves facing criminal charges for possessing illegal substances.
South Carolina Drug Laws According to a Drug charge Lawyer
While the federal drug laws have stringent sentencing guidelines, individual states approach the issues in a variety of ways. In South Carolina, the drug laws criminalize the possession of controlled substances, its use, and sale. Typically, careful consideration is given to the kind of drug obtained, the way in which it was possessed, and the number of drugs seized by law enforcement.
The localization of drug seizure also comes into play when police must determine what charges to file for drug offenses in Greenville, South Carolina. For instance, if drugs are found within a mile of a school, it may lead to additional charges, such as a proximity offense which will then be classed as an additional sentence and may add significant jail time to the defendant’s punishment.
Our state divides such offenses into felonies and misdemeanors. Minor drug crimes are usually treated as misdemeanors, whereas serious offenses are felonies. A dedicated lawyer will have a good grasp on the differences between misdemeanors and felonies along with the federal mandatory minimum sentences that usually force judges to jail offenders for a specific amount of time, no matter the mitigating circumstances.
The mandatory minimum jail times do not have much room for negotiation in terms of lenience, and a drug charge lawyer will understand and therefore explain that a conviction will include an automatic jail sentence.
Different Types of Drug Offenses in Greenville, South Carolina
In South Carolina, it is illegal to possess drugs that fall in the schedule I – VI categories. It should be noted that street drugs that do not have medical use are always classified as illegal, whereas the possession of prescription drugs is deemed unlawful when one does not have a valid prescription. Due to their potential for abuse, along with their addictive nature, pharmaceutical drugs are heavily regulated in our state.
Possession may either be actual, as in you have the drugs in your pocket or hand; or constructive. Constructive possession involves not having the drugs on your person, but having the intent and ability to exert control over the substances. This kind of possession is most commonly alleged when the drugs are found in bags, homes, cars, or even on the ground near the defendant.
Trafficking refers to the possession of a large amount of controlled substances. No intent is required in terms of trafficking.
- Possession with Intent to Distribute, Distribution, Manufacture
Possession with intent to distribute refers to the possession of drugs larger than that that would be possessed for personal use, along with the intention to sell the substances. Distribution refers to the sale or transfer of a controlled substance from one person to another person. Manufacturing involves the growing, the production, and the gathering of ingredients of drugs.
Common Defenses for Greenville Drug Charges
Despite the differences between federal and state sentencing approaches in the U.S., possession defenses tend to be relatively universal. There may be different defense approaches, though, such as challenging the validity of one’s evidence, questioning police procedures, and challenging the applicability of law. Below are some detailed examples of drug possession defenses:
- Unlawful Search and Seizure
Under our constitution, everyone has the right to due process of the law, including legal search and seizure procedures before one is arrested for drug offenses in Greenville, South Carolina. Generally, drugs that are discovered in plain view can be seized and used as evidence. But, if the drugs are found without a person’s permission and in a way that would normally require a search warrant, they may not be used as evidence. What this means is that if one’s rights are violated during a search and seizure, the drugs may not be utilized as evidence at trial and it is likely that the charged will be dismissed, which is a typical tactic that criminal defense attorneys use for drug charges.
- Medical Marijuana Exception
The medical use of marijuana is not deemed a defense in federal court, and South Carolina does not recognize the right to use medical marijuana for medical reasons.
- Drugs were Planted
This can be a tricky defense to prove since an officer’s sworn testimony tends to carry a great deal of weight in court. Whether or not this defense can be used will depend on the specifics of the case.
- Deny Ownership of the Drugs
This is another common defense tactic used for drug charges and it involved denying ownership of the illegal substances. In this kind of situation, an attorney will pressure the prosecution to prove that the discovered drugs really belonged to the defendant and not someone else who was present at the time of the arrest.
- Missing Evidence
A drug charge lawyer will ensure that prosecutors can produce the actual drugs for which one is accused of owning, but if prosecutors misplace or lose the drugs, they risk having the case dismissed from court. It is never wise to assume that the drugs still exist during the trial as they may be transferred a number of times before they reach the evidence locker. Your drug charge lawyer will force the prosecution to prove the entire chain of custody of the illegal substances from where they were seized from the defendant up until the trial.
These five defenses can be used to defend against drug charges. In our state, state laws have been written so as to criminalize the use and the possession of a wide range of prescription medications and drugs.
It is important to keep in mind that all drug offenses in Greenville, South Carolina, including those that involve small amounts of drugs, do have the potential to result in severe penalties. The state authorities along with prosecutors are tough on crime, and even if you do have a strong defense, you may face harsh punishment.
What About Prescription Drug Fraud?
Prescription drug fraud has grown in popularity as a drug crime in South Carolina. Prescription drug fraud involves a person being charged for taking drugs without a valid prescription via forgery, theft, or even fraud. Prescription drug abuse has the potential to adversely affect families throughout Greenville, as people of any age, race, and income bracket may find themselves addicted to prescription drugs.
Since this kind of crime has grown in popularity, prosecutors in the state are hard at work to bring criminal charges against people involved in prescription drug fraud, from the users to those who orchestrate such deceit. If you are charged with prescription drug fraud, you should expect to face a lengthy jail sentence.
Seek Legal Assistance for Your Greenville Drug Offenses Now
Having a dedicated Greenville drug charge lawyer on your side is the only way to ensure that your interests and rights are protected in South Carolina. The attorneys at Brumback & Langley, LLC can discuss your different defense options with you and aim to fight relentlessly to ensure you face the minimum possible jail term. We have experience representing drug defendants in our state and will carefully walk you through your options and the legal process so that you know what punishment you may be facing for your involvement with illegal substances.
Get in touch with a drug charge lawyer today to book a consultation and discover the way forward with your drug defense case.