Being charged with any drug offense can be a very serious legal matter in South Carolina, and especially if the particular substance is cocaine. Cocaine is a Schedule I narcotic that is not used for any medical application, and even a possession charge can result in a significant fine along with an extended jail term upon being convicted. Probation can be ordered for those who are convicted on a first offense, but second offense or greater eliminates this possibility as well as subjects the defendant to additional incarceration time and increased fines.
A cocaine possession charge is not classified as a felony in South Carolina if the amount is under 10 grams. Simple possession is prosecuted as a Class A misdemeanor. However, a conviction can carry an extended jail sentence. Maximum jail sentencing for a first-offense conviction is two years along with a potential fine of $5000 with serious drug charges based on amounts up to 10 grams.
Trafficking in cocaine is classified as a felony in South Carolina. Instead of a two-year maximum incarceration as in a misdemeanor possession conviction, punishment for a trafficking conviction is set at a three-year minimum. Fines can also be increased up to $10,000 based on the amount of cocaine seized. Any amount at or over 10 grams is considered as prima facie intent to distribute.
South Carolina law also sets parameters for those caught selling cocaine. While possession of a certain amount can justify a trafficking charge, actually being caught selling any amount can present a more significant legal challenge. Those caught in the act of selling cocaine can face up to 15 years incarceration for amounts ranging from 10-28 grams while those selling larger amounts up to over 400 grams could be subject to 25 years behind bars. Fines are also increased up to $10,000 or more for first offenses based on the total weight.
Additionally, the sentencing guidelines increase exponentially with any multiple offense convictions. The enhanced punishments also apply when subsequent offense convictions are still classified as misdemeanors based on the total amount confiscated.