SC Articles on Law
Susan Williams

Heroin Charges in SC: Everything You Need to Know

It’s a typical Saturday night.

You’re hanging out at a friend’s apartment, and the booze is flowing freely. Before you know what’s happening, someone pulled out heroin. And what started out as a typical Saturday night suddenly becomes an intense situation as your friends consume the drug. Seeing no harm, you join in, too. After all, a tiny bit won’t hurt...right?

But before you know it, blue lights are blazing through the apartment’s windows, and law enforcement is everywhere.

What can happen to you?

What kind of penalties can you find yourself facing?

How can this impact your future?

South Carolina has strict consequences where possession of heroin is concerned, which is why it’s important for you to know what penalties you can face and how best to handle what’s to come.

Possession of Heroin

In South Carolina, if you have any part in possessing, transporting, using or manufacturing heroin, you can find yourself in big trouble. But let’s start with the basics and talk particularly about possession first, continuing with the above scenario.

The police came barging through the door, they caught you with heroin, and now you’re charged with heroin possession.

Penalties

Penalties for this charge are shown in the chart below and vary based on the number of times you’ve been convicted of this crime:

Possession of Heroin Penalties

Weight
Offense #
Felony or Misdemeanor?
Jail Time
Fine*
Up to 2 grains First offense Misdemeanor Up to 2 years Up to $5,000
Up to 2 grains Second offense Felony Up to 5 years Up to $5,000
Up to 2 grains Third or subsequent offense Felony Up to 5 years Up to $10,000

*You may be sentenced to jail time, a fine, or both.

Note that how the judge chooses to penalize you can vary because of a term known as judicial discretion. In short, judicial discretion gives the judge who presides over your case the ability to penalize you without the need for him or her to be bound by precedents or strict rules defined in statutes. Basically, your judge can make a decision based on his or her understanding of the circumstances as well as your prior criminal history and background. In such a circumstance, an experienced lawyer’s support and professionally crafted argument can be key in your defense.

Some factors that may be considered are your age, history of drug charge convictions, criminal history, whether the search was constitutional, chain of custody, lab test results, whether you were cooperative with law enforcement and other individual circumstances. If you or someone else said things about the case or wrote down statements for the police, an attorney may be able to advises you whether these statements can be used against you in court.

Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute (PWID)

Let’s take it a step further and think about your friend who bought the drug and shared it with everyone else. What happens to your friend??

Your friend’s charges will be harsher than yours since your friend had a larger amount of the drug. The police will consider the way the drug was packaged (in one bag, more than one bag, weights of each bag/ container) and whether there is an inference that your friend intended to distribute it to the larger group. He or she will likely be charged with what’s known as “possession with intent to distribute” or PWID. Possession of 2 grains or more of heroin is prima facie evidence of intent to distribute, meaning if you possess this amount of the drug or more you will most likely be facing a PWID charge instead of a lesser possession charge.

With this charge, the prosecutor must prove that the individual, in this case, your buddy, had knowledge that the drug was present and that he or she had an intent to sell or distribute it.

Defenses

There may be defenses against this charge if the State/prosecutor is not able to prove your friend knew that he or she was in possession of it. In fact, if your friend’s attorney can create reasonable doubt about whether your friend possessed the heroin, then the jury must charge the defendant “not guilty.”

Second, the State/prosecutor would have the burden of proving your friend knew that he/she possessed heroin and had actual intent to distribute it. Having an attorney is key here.

Penalties for PWID (Possession with Intent to Distribute) Heroin are shown in the chart below.

PWID Heroin Penalties

Weight
Offense #
Felony or Misdemeanor?
Jail Time
Fine*
2 grains or more (but less than 14 grams) First offense Felony Up to 15 years Up to $25,000
2 grains or more (but less than 14 grams) Second offense Felony 5 - 30 years Up to $50,000
2 grains or more (but less than 14 grams) Third or subsequent offense Felony 10 - 30 years Up to $50,000

*You may be sentenced to jail time, a fine or both.

Trafficking Heroin

If we add another layer to our scenario and think deeper to the person who trafficked or transported the heroin so that it could get to your friend and, thereby, to you, we’re looking at an entirely different set of consequences.

Drug trafficking is a huge concern that impacts not only South Carolina but the entire U.S. To give you an idea, consider this fact: the Drug Enforcement Agency makes more than 30,000 arrests each year for the illegal sale and distribution of drugs. Therefore, the individual who is caught transporting the drugs can face trafficking charges, which are both severe and strict, as identified in the chart below.

Trafficking Heroin Penalties

Weight
Offense #
Felony or Misdemeanor?
Jail Time
Fine*
4-14 grams First offense Felony 7 - 25 years (not eligible for probation) $50,000
4-14 grams Second offense Felony 25 years $100,000
14-28 grams First offense Felony 25 years $200,000
28 grams or more First offense Felony 25 - 40 years (not eligible for probation) $200,000

*Note that someone will be facing both jail time and fines if convicted of the above charge.

Do you need a lawyer to help fight heroin charges?

Just as the physical effects of using heroin are immediately felt, so are its consequences. The right attorney can help advise you of your defenses and identify possible discrepancies that can give you a fighting chance at battling your charges. If you choose to handle these charges on your own, you’re putting a lot on the line–including your peace of mind as well as how you will spend your future.

Give yourself a chance and get help with your charges.

Call us at 843-607-9800 for a free consultation or complete our online form, so we can get in touch with you and find out how we can best build a strong case in your defense. Remember, the worst defense is no defense.

Let's Talk About The Details of Your Case.

Choosing the right attorney can be the most important step you’ll ever take. Schedule a free consultation today.

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Copyright 2019 Susan E. Williams, Summerville, SC, All Rights Reserved.