Wrong. Any time you are charged with any drug offense, even if you were not arrested for it, you should consult and retain an attorney.
Possession of 28 grams or less of marijuana – usually written up as “Simple Possession of Marijuana” – is a misdemeanor under South Carolina law, whether the officer took you to jail or just wrote you a ticket. If you are convicted of the crime, you can be punished by up to 30 days in jail or a fine between $100 and $200 (plus surcharges) for a first offense.
For a second offense, the penalties increase, and you can be punished by up to a year in jail, a fine between $200 and $1000, or both.
There are other consequences of having a drug conviction on your record. It can make you ineligible for some federal student loans. It may affect other government benefits you receive or make you ineligible for certain housing options. And just like any misdemeanor conviction, it could pop up when a potential employer runs a background check and affect your ability to make a living.
Sometimes officers will also write you a ticket for possessing drug paraphernalia. That might also be a misdemeanor with similar penalties, depending on which state law or local ordinance is charged on the ticket.
A lawyer can review your case to see if there are any issues with how the police stopped and searched you or your vehicle that may have violated your 4th Amendment rights. Even if there’s not a great opportunity to fight the charge, there are options other than just showing up to plead guilty that a criminal-defense lawyer can negotiate for you to keep the charge off your record.
If the officer tells you “don’t worry, this will just be a fine when you get to court,” do not take comfort in that, and do not consider that as legal advice. There are other consequences to these charges that they aren’t thinking about when they tell you that. It makes their job easier if you just pay up and forget about it so they don’t have to deal with attorneys in court. But it won’t make your life easier.
If you’ve been arrested or ticketed for any drug offense, including Simple Possession of Marijuana, you need to call an attorney. Drug laws vary widely from state to state, and procedures vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Call an attorney that practices in the area that your ticket says you’re going to court. It’s smart to pull up Google Maps or whatever map application you have on your phone so you know which cities are near the court location on your ticket.
I am licensed to practice law in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, and I focus my practice primarily on the courts in Upstate South Carolina, including anywhere within the counties of Spartanburg, Cherokee, and Greenville. If your court date is in that general area, I am happy to talk to you and offer a free consultation over the phone. If you have a court date that is not in or near one of those counties, you might be better off looking for attorneys through the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers directory. I have been getting lots of calls from people that got pulled over in Yemassee, South Carolina. Yemassee is a three hour drive from my office, so that is a good example of a part of the state that I would not be able to help you with. If you have a court date in a state other than the three I am licensed to practice in, I recommend you look for an attorney in that state.
If you are charged with any drug offense and have court in or near Spartanburg, call my office at (864) 406-6755 for a free consultation, or click “Contact” at the top of the page.