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South Carolina Trafficking in Marijuana - Did you fly in with vacuum sealed bags?

South Carolina Trafficking in Marijuana - Did you fly in with vacuum sealed bags?

Over the last few years, I've seen a significant increase in people charged with South Carolina marijuana trafficking. These are people who flew from states like California or Colorado with vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana. Often those who are caught are simply acting as "mules" where they are paid a small amount of money to take this risk. It's not unusual to see very young people involved in this (high school or college-aged isn't unusual).

In states with legal marijuana, it may not be a big deal to get caught with several pounds of marijuana. I recently talked to someone who was caught with over 10 pounds of marijuana by police in California. Not only did they not charge him at all, but they also didn't even seize the marijuana. Literally, nothing happened.

But here in South Carolina marijuana is still a prosecuted crime. Possessing more than 10 pounds of marijuana is prosecuted as Trafficking in Marijuana. There's even a 1-year minimum prison sentence. This is contained in South Carolina Code 44-53-370. It states:

(e) Any person who knowingly sells, manufactures, cultivates, delivers, purchases, or brings into this State, or who provides financial assistance or otherwise aids, abets, attempts, or conspires to sell, manufacture, cultivate, deliver, purchase, or bring into this State, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession or who knowingly attempts to become in actual or constructive possession of:

(1) ten pounds or more of marijuana is guilty of a felony which is known as "trafficking in marijuana" and, upon conviction, must be punished as follows if the quantity involved is:

(a) ten pounds or more, but less than one hundred pounds:

1. for a first offense, a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than ten years, no part of which may be suspended nor probation granted, and a fine of ten thousand dollars;

People are typically charged in one of two ways:

1) Once they arrive in South Carolina with the marijuana they are supposed to meet with someone to turn the marijuana over. A "snitch" working with the police learns about that meeting and reports the details to law enforcement. Then they are pulled over by police, searched, and arrested for having the marijuana.

2) Police routinely patrol airport baggage terminals looking for suspicious behavior. They may request permission to search a bag or obtain a warrant if there is otherwise probable cause to search. Once they find marijuana charges are brought.

Because South Carolina law provides for mandatory prison time for anyone caught with more than 10 pounds of marijuana, it's very important that everyone facing a trafficking charge immediately retain a qualified attorney. There are many strategies that can help obtain a reduction sufficient to avoid prison time, and in certain situations, it may be possible to even obtain a total dismissal of the charges. For example: Did the police have a valid reason to pull a car over? Were Miranda rights properly given? Did the police search without a warrant? Were proper techniques used by the police dog handler? Did the police engage in racial profilling?

If you or a loved one is facing a marijuana trafficking charge anywhere in South Carolina I can help. The first step is to call my office for a free consultation. During that consultation, you'll have the chance to explain the exact situation and ask any questions that you may have. I'll be able to tell you what the potential defense strategies are that can help. Call us today at 888-301-6004.


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