Drug Trafficking in Lexington, South Carolina
South Carolina's drug trafficking law contains substantial penalties for those convicted. The drug trafficking law is codified in S.C. Code §44-53-370(e). Drug trafficking is the act of being in possession of over a certain quantity of illegal drugs. It is only a penalty statute and the underlying crime is possession. The only requirement to trigger the trafficking law is that the defendant be alleged to have in their possession more than a certain threshold amount of contraband. There is no requirement that the defendant had any intent of distributing, transporting or selling any drugs. Many South Carolina drug trafficking charges carry mandatory prison terms of as high as 25 years.
How serious is my drug trafficking charge?
The seriousness of a drug trafficking offense is based on the drug involved, the amount of drug and the defendant's prior record of drug related offenses. Any prior conviction for a drug offense may serve to enhance the level of a drug trafficking charge. For example, a prior conviction for PWID marijuana would serve to make a defendant's first charge for trafficking cocaine a second offense. This is true even if the defendant has no prior trafficking or cocaine charges.
Frequently, those charged with drug trafficking may have important legal or factual defenses available for them. A Lexington criminal attorney at our firm can help determine what defenses can be used in your case. Many defenses involve situations where police:
- Pulled over or searched a vehicle
- Used drug dogs to investigate the evidence
- Failed to give a full Miranda advisement
- Obtained / should have obtained a search warrant.
Other issues that come up with some regularity involve the police use of drug informants. These are individuals, frequently with their own serious drug charges, who agree to cooperate with the police to obtain the arrest of others. This may lead to situations where the informant's testimony is unreliable for obtaining a search or arrest warrant or where their testimony should be considered unreliable at trial.
Custody Procedure in South Carolina
As with any serious drug offense, there are also issues regarding the chain of custody procedure used by law enforcement when taking possession of drugs after an arrest. Also, since trafficking depends on factors such as, the precise weight of the drugs involved, the accuracy of the scales and the environment the drugs are stored in, the procedure and penalties can be different. Even the humidity level of the police station can change the weight of drugs not properly stored.
To discuss a trafficking charge, please contact a Lexington criminal lawyer at the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC. We work hard for our clients to protect their freedom, liberty, and reputation. To schedule an in-office consultation about your case please contact one of our dedicated attorneys, who serve many areas of South Carolina. A couple of those areas include Lexington and Columbia. For more information about specific drug trafficking charges, such as trafficking in
marijuana, call us today!