What is "Possession with Intent to Distribute" in South Carolin

  • As attorneys in Rock Hill, South Carolina, we know that there are countless factors that can influence the outcome of a drug possession case. Most U.S. citizens know that it is unlawful to possess certain types of drugs, considered "controlled substances" by state and federal law. But did you know that there are different charges -- varying widely in severity and sentencing -- based on what a defendant intends to do with those substances? In this article, you'll find a primer on what is known as "possession with intent to distribute," and what that means in the state of South Carolina.

    The South Carolina Code of Law prohibits possession of drugs on multiple levels. Simple possession laws make it illegal to possess controlled substances -- including illicit drugs and prescription medications acquired illegally -- for personal use. Separate provisions prohibit the manufacture, sale, and trafficking of drugs, as well as possession with intent to distribute. Section 44-53-370 makes it unlawful "to possess with the intent to manufacture, distribute, dispense, deliver, or purchase a controlled substance or a controlled substance analogue ... or possess with intent to distribute, dispense, deliver, or purchase a counterfeit substance."

    To pursue these charges, a prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that a defendant: knew that the drug in his/her possession was a controlled substance; knowingly possessed or had control of the drug (this includes cases in which the defendant did not have drugs on his/her person, but had access to them elsewhere, such as in a residence or storage facility); and intended to sell or otherwise dispense the drug. In proving the latter, prosecutors may cite physical evidence, including supplies used to package and transport drugs, or large quantities of the drug(s) or small-denomination cash. They may also present testimony from witnesses.

    Depending on a drug's FDA schedule, and on a defendant's history, possession with intent to distribute may result in misdemeanor or felony charges. Jail time for felony possession with intent in South Carolina ranges from 5-15 years for a first offense, and 5-30 years for a subsequent offense, often accompanied by steep fines. If you are facing charges related to possession with intent to distribute, contact the Lewis Law Firm today.