A South Carolina man was sentenced to spend 242 months in a federal prison to be followed by 72 months of supervised release on Jan. 6. A jury found the man guilty of possessing illegal drugs with the intent to distribute and possessing a gun while being a convicted felon after a trial lasting two days. The man was originally taken into custody by the Florence County Sheriff’s Office. The Drug Enforcement Administration was called in because of the amount of drugs involved.
The chain of events that led to the man’s sentencing began when FCSO deputies pulled his vehicle over for failing to yield the right of way on the night of July 27, 2018. Deputies say that they became suspicious and decided to search the car after noticing the smell of marijuana. The man is said to have admitted to deputies that he had a small amount of the drug on him for his own personal use.
During the ensuing search of the man’s car, deputies allegedly found a semiautomatic handgun in the center console, methamphetamine and crack cocaine under the cup holder and a backpack containing what were described as distribution-level quantities of crack cocaine, powder cocaine and marijuana. Deputies also claim to have discovered drug paraphernalia including a bottle of a substance used to dilute drugs, plastic bags and a digital scale.
The sentence handed down in this case shows how severe federal narcotics penalties can be. This is why experienced criminal defense attorneys may suggest exploring a negotiated plea agreement in cases when the evidence is compelling. However, when their clients maintain their innocence, police searches could have been conducted without probable cause or the evidence prosecutors have is unconvincing, attorneys may recommend arguing the facts before a jury.