West Columbia Drug Lawyer

Drug offenses have been a law enforcement priority for decades.  Although attitudes about drug addiction and the possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use have changed over the years, the law has not kept up.  Most drug offenses remain serious crimes with severe penalties.

If you have been arrested in possession of illegal drugs or paraphernalia, you need someone to protect your rights. An experienced West Columbia drug lawyer could work to help you possibly avoid the consequences of a drug conviction. Speak to a knowledgeable defense attorney to get started building your defense.

Quantity of Drug Determines Charges, Punishment

People in West Columbia could face drug-related charges alleging the possession, sale aka distribution, or trafficking of dangerous drugs. If police find an amount that is typical for personal use, possession is the likely charge.  Larger amounts will lead to a presumption that the person intended to sell the drugs to others and might lead to charges of sale or trafficking.

Simple possession is typically a misdemeanor for a first offense, but subsequent offenses could be felonies. Selling or trafficking illegal drugs is always a felony charge.  An experienced lawyer could help a client facing drug charges present evidence that might indicate that a lesser charge is appropriate or that a defense is available.

The law categorizes drugs by their addictive tendency, potential for abuse, and legitimate medical use.  Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous and crimes involving them carry the most serious penalties. South Carolina Code §44-53-180 lists all the Schedule I drugs.  Schedule VI drugs are the least addictive and might have some medical purpose, but unauthorized possession or sale still could lead to criminal charges and penalties.

Penalties For Crimes Involving Common Street Drugs

Heroin is a Schedule I narcotic and possession of fewer than 2 grains is a misdemeanor; larger amounts could support charges of intent to sell.  The penalty upon conviction for a first possession offense is a prison term of up to two years and a fine of up to $5000, or both.  Repeat offenses trigger harsher sentencing.

One gram of cocaine leads to a possession charge; more than that could result in intent to sell/distribute or trafficking charges.  A first offense for possession could lead to three years in prison and a $5000 fine.  Subsequent offenses are felonies and carry much bigger fines and longer prison sentences.

Possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor.  A first offense could lead to 30 days in jail.  Repeat offenders, or those in possession of larger quantities, could be charged with a felony and risk prison terms of several years, depending on the circumstances.

Defenses to Drug Charges

Even though prosecutors take drugs charges seriously and penalties are severe, a person facing a drug charge should not give up hope.  There are several potential defenses a skillful attorney could present to help diminish or avoid the dire consequences of a drug conviction.

The police must follow specified procedures when they search a person, home, or vehicle for drugs.  Failing to follow those procedures is a violation of rights that could result in the dismissal of charges.

The substance that forms the basis of charges must be an illegal drug.  Prosecutors rely on laboratory analysis to officially identify the substance police seized from a suspect’s possession.  Challenging the competence of the laboratory or its procedures in a particular case can lead to a court deeming the report inadmissible as evidence against a client.  In such a case the court might dismiss the charges.

Get in Touch With a West Columbia Drugs Attorney Today

Possession of even small amounts of common recreational drugs could lead to serious charges that carry long jail terms and life-long collateral consequences.  A criminal conviction could follow you forever and might impact every aspect of your life, from where you live to what job you get to whether you retain custody of your children.

Do not risk these terrible consequences without the help of a skillful West Columbia drugs lawyer.  Contact them as soon as you know that you might be facing drug charges.  They could guide you through the process and prepare a strategy to present your best defense.  Call today.

West Columbia Criminal Lawyer