Lexington Drug Crime Attorney
Aggressive Defense for Drug Crime Charges
Being arrested for any drug related crime in South Carolina is serious business. Many charges carry a possibility of long prison sentences and high fines. All convictions carry the potential for a jail sentence and a mandatory criminal record and driver's license suspension.
As a drug crime defense attorney James Snell is experienced in representing clients charged with drug offenses ranging from simple possession of marijuana through drug trafficking. He has tried drug related cases in both the magistrate court and the court of general sessions. He is also qualified to represent those charged with
federal drug crimes. If you are serious about defending your drug charge or that of a loved one, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Possible Defenses for Your Case
There are only four ways that a drug crime case will be resolved. After obtaining discovery and investigating your case our drug crimes attorney will meet with you to review the possible options. The following are the ways that one of the Lexington criminal attorneys from Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC can help you handle your drug crime:
Dismissal by the Prosecutor
- If the prosecutor is able to determine that there is insufficient evidence to go forward with a case, they have an obligation to dismiss the charge. In cases where our client's innocence can be affirmatively established, we work diligently to pursue this option for our clients. This may include administration of a polygraph (conducted by our office), establishing an alibi or a faulty identification. Drug cases don't go away by themselves, however. Unless affirmative steps are taken to demonstrate the lack of basis for a drug charge, the prosecutor will take the police reports at their word and move forward with the case.
- Our clients found accused of simple possession of marijuana and certain other drug crimes may be eligible to have their charges dismissed through a conditional discharge. Under this type of agreement, the defendant will submit to regular drug testing and any other special requirements imposed by the court. If they are successfully completed, the charges will be dismissed and the record may be eligible for expungement. Entrance into this program is only obtained with the specific consent of both the prosecutor and the court.
- Clients with very serious drug charges may be eligible to have their case placed into the pre-trial intervention program, or PTI. Pre-trial intervention is a program whereby a defendant performs 30 - 50 hours of community service, a set number of counseling sessions, and random drug testing. At the conclusion of the program, they will have their charges dismissed and will be eligible for their record to be expunged. Admission in pre-trial intervention requires the specific consent of the solicitor's office.
Drug Court Program
Clients who have a diagnosed drug addiction may be eligible to have their cases disposed of through the drug court program. Drug court in South Carolina is a diversion program similar to pre-trial intervention, but much more difficult. If completed, it will result in a dismissal of the pending charges and the defendant will be eligible to have their record expunged. Defendants may be eligible for admission into the drug court even for non-drug offenses if their crimes were motivated by their addiction. Admission into the drug court program requires the specific consent of the solicitor's office.
- Some cases are resolved through the use of a plea bargain. During this procedure, a defendant would agree to admit guilt or responsibility in exchange for a dismissal or reduction of the charges, or other concessions regarding sentencing. Our founding attorney, James R. Snell, Jr., firmly believes that the decision as to whether or not a plea bargain is entered into should be solely his client's decision that is only made after a complete investigation of their case. Many times the result of a plea bargain will be a negotiated fine or probation only sentence.
- Cases which are not otherwise dismissed by the prosecution for lack of evidence or disposed of through a diversion program or plea bargain are set for trial. During the trial the prosecutor has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. At this stage of the process, we will seek dismissal of the charge, without consent of the prosecutor, on any legally available ground including police misconduct, search warrant violations or entrapment.
Types of Drug Crimes
Drug possession is a common drug crime. It can be shown by proving that someone had actual (in their hand or pocket for example) or constructive (in the same room, car or location) possession of a controlled substance such as marijuana,
cocaine, crack, heroin, LSD, or crank. Possession with intent to distribute (PWID) can be shown by proving that someone had actual possession of a controlled substance either over a quantity threshold or packaged for street sale. For marijuana, the threshold amount is one or more ounces. For ice, crank or crack cocaine, the threshold amount is one or more grams. For powder cocaine the threshold amount is ten grains and for heroin, the threshold amount is two grains.
If the threshold amount is reached, then the State may argue to the jury that there is an inference that the defendant intended to distribute the substances. Another common drug crime is trafficking. It can be shown by proving possession of a controlled substance over a quantity threshold. The underlying crime is possession and the trafficking statutes are punitive. There is no requirement that the State prove any intent to distribute. For
marijuana trafficking, the threshold amount is ten pounds. For ice, crank or
crack cocaine, the threshold amount is 10 grams. For powder
cocaine, the threshold amount is 10 grams, and for heroin, the threshold amount is 4 grams. Drug distribution can be proven by proving that the defendant delivered or transferred the controlled substance to a third person.
Aggravating Factors in a DUI Case
These cases become even more serious if the defendant has a prior record of drug or violent offenses or if they occur within a close proximity to a school or playground. The final drug crime we will discuss is prescription drug possession. There are also many laws concerning the obtainment, possession and distribution of prescription drugs. Many individuals are arrested based on a belief that they are doctor shipping or somehow else obtained a drug prescription or prescription drugs by fraud or deceit. If you have been accused of any drug crime in Lexington, Columbia or a surrounding community, it is time to discuss your case with a Lexington criminal defense lawyer. Call today!