While states across the country have passed legislation to legalize marijuana, South Carolina has not. Marijuana is still a crime punishable by fines and potential jail time.
The Legal Definition of Marijuana in South Carolina
In South Carolina, marijuana has a lengthy legal definition. It is so much more than just the physical weed you normally think of. Marijuana under SC law is defined as:
- All species or a variety of the marijuana plant and all parts thereof whether growing or not;
- The seeds of the marijuana plant;
- The resin extracted from any part of the marijuana plant; or
- Every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the marijuana plant, marijuana seeds, or marijuana resin.
Marijuana Charges in South Carolina
Charges for marijuana can be misdemeanors or felonies – the degree of charge comes not only from the weight of the drugs, but also the surrounding events upon arrest. The most common crime we see is simple possession.
Simple Possession of Marijuana
Simple Possession is defined as twenty-eight grams or one ounce of marijuana. A person who violates this subsection with respect to twenty-eight grams or one ounce or less of marijuana or ten grams or less of hashish is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than thirty days or fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than two hundred dollars.
Charged With Your First Offense?
If this is your first criminal charge of possession, you may be eligible for a conditional discharge. This means that whether you plead guilty or are found guilty, the Court may, with consent of the defendant, defer judgment and place the defendant on probation.
The Judge will set terms and conditions for the defendant to complete. Upon completion, the Court will discharge and dismiss the charge against the defendant. One of the requirements most often put on the defendant is participation in a treatment or rehabilitation program run by the state. It is important to note that this is available to the defendant only once.
The benefit of a conditional discharge or fighting the charge and being found not guilty or having the solicitor dismiss the charge is the opportunity for an expungement.
Even if your charges are dismissed, people can see that you were charged with a crime on a background check. This can stop you from renting a place to live, applying to certain schools, or seeking employment at certain businesses.
If the expungement is approved, the charge is completely wiped from your record. In the instance of a conditional discharge, a nonpublic record is kept at the state level to insure no one gets a second conditional discharge. However, no other publication of the charge will be available.
The other avenue to procuring a dismissal of your charges is to fight them in court. When they perform a traffic stop or stop you in the street, officers are required to abide by certain fundamental laws to ensure that your rights are not violated.
As criminal defense attorneys, it is our job to analyze every bit of the stop. We look for answers to questions like: did the officers have reasonable suspicion for the stop, did the officer have reasonable suspicion to perform a frisk or search, did you give consent to a search, and more. The answers to these questions can have a massive effect on your case and ability to fight the charge in court.
If you have been charged with simple possession of marijuana or another crime in South Carolina, contact us as soon as possible.