When can you be charged for marijuana possession?
While personal use of marijuana may be relatively common in South Carolina, it is still illegal to use and possess marijuana in our state. That means when people use it, they risk being charged with drug possession crimes.
As with all drugs that are illegal in South Carolina, the potential penalties for a conviction on marijuana possession charges depend on the amount that people possess at the time of their arrest.
Potential penalties for simple possession
If people possess a small amount of marijuana, which means less than an ounce, they could be convicted of a misdemeanor, be sentenced up to 30 days in jail and be fined between $100 and $200. However, if it is the defendant’s first offense, they could be eligible for pretrial intervention programs and could potentially avoid a conviction if they successfully complete the program.
With a second marijuana possession conviction, a defendant is not eligible for the program. The jail sentence could be up to one year and the fine could be between $200 and $1,000.
Potential penalties for larger amounts of marijuana
If people possess more than an ounce, but less than 10 pounds, of marijuana it is a felony offense and they face more severe penalties. They could be fined up to $5,000 and be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
If people possess over 10 pounds of marijuana, it is considered trafficking. This crime is also a felony and the penalties depend on how much people possess and whether it is their first offense or not.
For a first-time offense, if people possess between 10 pounds and 100 pounds they could face a minimum prison sentence of 1 year and up to 10 years. They could also be fined $10,000. For a second offense the jail sentence increases to between 5 and 25 years and the fine could be $25,000.
Whether people in South Carolina are charged with simple possession of marijuana or marijuana trafficking, a conviction can affect their lives for years. Experienced attorneys understand the potential defenses and may be able to help protect people’s rights.