What to know about drug distribution charges

Individuals in South Carolina who are found to be participating in the cultivation or manufacture of illegal substances may be charged with a crime. Generally speaking, a prosecutor must show that a person both possessed a controlled substance and intended to distribute it. This can be difficult in some cases as items used to create or sell a drug aren't necessarily illegal to possess. These items could include lamps, seeds or hydroponic equipment used to grow marijuana.

However, it is possible that those who are found with equipment typically used for making drugs could be charged with other crimes. While the federal government treats marijuana as a Schedule I drug, states may treat the substance differently. Typically, the federal government will defer to state law if the drug has been decriminalized or is otherwise treated less harshly. States may also have different rules as it relates to how much a person can grow or possess for medical reasons.

Federal law calls for prison sentences of anywhere from five years to life depending on how many plants a person possesses. It may also be possible to pay a fine or spend time in jail or prison for possession and intent to distribute any other controlled substance. Fines and prison time may be increased if drugs are sold near a school or in other restricted areas.

Individuals who are charged with any type of drug crime could face serious consequences if convicted. Those penalties may include probation, jail time and a fine. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help a person avoid some or all of those penalties. This might be done by casting doubt on a police report, witness testimony or other evidence used to charge a person with intent to distribute or other crimes.

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