More often than not, if you need to ask yourself if you need a lawyer, the answer is going to be yes – especially if you’ve been arrested for possession of an illegal substance. In order to know why you need a lawyer (other than the legal system is a complex and complicated machine that requires someone with knowledge and experience of it to navigate), one need only look at the penalties of this type of charge, whether it’s a misdemeanor charge or a felony, and the collateral losses you may experience because of this charge.
What’s the difference between a misdemeanor drug charge and a felony drug charge?
The laws for possessing a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) vary from state to state. In South Carolina, it depends on a drug’s schedule, how much of the substance was in your possession, and if you’re a repeat offender. Schedules are categories based on how dangerous they are. Schedule I drugs have the highest probability of abuse and addiction, with no recognized medical value. Schedules II, III, IV, and V decrease in abuse and increase in medical value.
Possessing a Schedule I or II narcotic CDS:
- Misdemeanor crime for first offense: Fine of up to $5,000, two years in prison, or both.
- Felony crime for second offense: Fine of up to $5,000, five years in prison, or both.
- Felony crime for third and ensuing offenses: Fine of up to $10,000, up to five years in prison, or both.
Possessing a Schedule II, III, IV, V CDS:
- Misdemeanor crime for first offense: Fine of up to $1,000, up to six months in jail, or both.
- Misdemeanor crime for second and any ensuing offenses: Fine of up to $2,000, up to a year in jail, or both.
- Misdemeanor crime for first offense: Fine of up to $5,000, up to three years in prison, or both.
- Felony crime for second offense: Fine of up to $7,500, up to five years in prison, or both.
- Felony crime for third and any ensuing offenses: Fine of up to $12,500, up to ten years in prison, or both.
As you can see, there are several different punishments for possessing an illegal substance, and these are just a few examples; however, it is often the collateral losses of a drug possession charge that will affect you the most.
What are collateral losses?
The collateral losses are not about the fines you might receive or the jail time you’ll have to do, but the damage to your life, professionally, academically, and financially. If you are looking for a job, a possession charge can hamper your attempts at getting a job since employers are going to be looking at your criminal record. They will likely choose the candidate that has a clean record over someone who does not. If you already have a job, then you very well may lose it if your employer discovers that you’ve been charged. They don’t want their name sullied by having someone with a criminal record working for them. If you own a business, you may lose clients, contracts, or business ties. These repercussions could destroy your finances if you cannot hold a job because of your drug charge.
If you’re a student, or perhaps even just a prospective student, then your chances of getting into the college you want, or any college at all are practically ruined. Colleges look at your criminal record, and they won’t want someone with a criminal record attending their school. If you already attend a college, then you may lose your scholarships, grants, or any other sources of financial aid, or you may even be expelled.
A drug charge can be a serious offense, and the more serious it is, the more you will be punished should you be convicted of the crime. Not only will you have to pay a fine and possibly serve years in prison, but it may ruin your chances at going to school or getting a good job. Expungement can offer you a clean slate, and then you could apply for any job or school you wish, and know that they will judge you on your skills, talents, and strengths instead of your previous criminal record. What’s most important for you if you’ve been charged with possession of an illegal substance is that you get yourself an experienced and dedicated lawyer.
At Holland Law LLC, we’ll make sure that you receive knowledgeable advice and informed guidance. Our founder, Tom Holland, has the insight to help you during this stressful time. To schedule an appointment with our firm in Fort Mill and Rock Hill, call 803-219-2630 or get in touch with us on our contact page. We also serve clients in York, Chester, and Lancaster Counties.
Tom Holland previously served as the General Counsel for the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, the City Solicitor for the City of Lancaster, and as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Sixth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. He is a single father, and through his own divorce gained valuable insight he now uses to provide Fort Mill and Rock Hill, SC families with the best representation. Learn more about Tom Holland.