3 Main Types of Drug Charges in South Carolina

The vast majority of drug crimes South Carolinians are arrested for fall into one of three counts: simple possession, possession with intent to distribute, and trafficking. A seemingly minor charge, like simple possession of marijuana, can balloon into something much more severe (like trafficking) depending on the presence of one or more elements in your case. We’ll go over these three common drug charges below. 

Simple Possession

If you have been charged with simple possession, the state of South Carolina has alleged that you had either actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance for personal use. How does the state determine that the drugs you were caught with were only going to be used by you? There are actually a few factors to be considered here. 

Each substance has a specified amount that constitutes a threshold for a simple possession charge. For instance, the threshold for marijuana is 28 grams, while the limit for cocaine is one gram. However, the amount of drugs you were caught with is not the only factor the prosecution considers. If the prosecution caught you with scales or uniform amounts of a drug separated among several plastic bags, you could be facing a possession with intent to distribute (PWID) charge. 

Possession with Intent to Distribute

Let’s say you were caught with 30 grams of marijuana. This is above the threshold for simple possession. Additionally, there were other clues — like the aforementioned scales and baggies — that indicated you were dealing to your friends. So, in consideration of the amount of marijuana you had and other drug paraphernalia, you are charged with PWID, which is usually a felony. Conversely, those who are dealing with simple possession are typically dealing with misdemeanors. Possible jail time depends on the type of drug. 


Many people confuse PWID with trafficking. Trafficking does not mean you were the one selling or manufacturing drugs. It simply means that you were caught with an exceptionally large quantity of drugs. And, that’s the key — trafficking charges are brought solely on the amount of drugs somebody possesses. Trafficking is a felony regardless of the type of drug. 

To give you a glimpse at the amount that would constitute trafficking, let’s take a look at the threshold for marijuana. Again, the threshold for simple possession of marijuana is 28 grams. The threshold for marijuana in the context of trafficking is 10 pounds, which is more than 4,500 times the weight of the threshold for simple possession. 


Currently, South Carolina inmates are being denied bond for trafficking and certain PWID charges unless they affirmatively ask for a bond hearing. So, in addition to calling an attorney, make sure your friends and family know about this particular nuance of South Carolina drug charges. 

As with almost all other types of criminal charges, the penalties become more severe for repeat drug offenses. However, even simple possession of seemingly minor drugs can have serious consequences for criminal defendants in South Carolina. Cate & Brough, P.A. is known for providing aggressive and thorough criminal defense services for a wide array of crimes in the Palmetto State. If you’re dealing with drug charges or other criminal matters, get in touch with our firm today. We’d be more than happy to help get your life back on track.

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Cate & Brough, P.A.

At Cate & Brough, we all have personal experience with family law and family court. We know more than just what the law says about your issue – we know what you are going through.

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