Columbia, SC, Marijuana Possession Lawyer/

As marijuana laws in several states across the country continue to relax, it’s easy to get lulled into the thought that marijuana possession is no big deal.

Not so in South Carolina.  The Palmetto State is one of a handful in which marijuana possession is still a criminal offense.  If you’ve been arrested or charged with marijuana possession in Columbia, SC, you must take it seriously.  Nobody wants to have a criminal record the next time they have a job interview or undergo a background check.

At Leventis Law Firm, we understand that a marijuana charge may not be your fault.  It could be that you borrowed a friend’s car and didn’t know that there was marijuana under the seat.  Or perhaps you were in a group of people who were arrested, but the drugs didn’t belong to you.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

You need an experienced and aggressive Columbia marijuana possession lawyer at your side who can defend you against drug charges and win your case.  Whether that means getting the charges thrown out or reduced or negotiating a favorable plea bargain, attorneys at Leventis Law Firm will square off against prosecutors and protect your legal rights.  For a free initial consultation about your marijuana possession case, call Joe Leventis at (803) 256-0113.

What Are the Marijuana Possession Laws in South Carolina?/

It seems like every time you turn around, another state is legalizing recreational marijuana use. And while South Carolina has permitted the use of certain derivatives of marijuana for patients with seizure disorders, recreational marijuana use is still against the law.

South Carolina’s statutes are generally more restrictive than other state marijuana laws, FindLaw states. In addition, possession of even small amounts of marijuana remains illegal under federal law according to the Controlled Substance Act. Even if South Carolina were to legalize marijuana under its state laws, federal law always supersedes state law; and the federal government hasn’t given up on enforcing restrictions on interstate cases of pot possessionmanufacturing and cultivation, and trafficking and distribution. To date, South Carolina has no plans to legalize marijuana, and even an extended medicinal marijuana bill failed to make it to a hearing in the state legislature.

Marijuana possession in South Carolina is a criminal misdemeanor for the unlawful possession of no more than 28 grams of marijuana:

  • For a first offense, possession of one ounce or less is punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a maximum $200 fine, plus court costs.
  • Anyone convicted must have their driver’s license suspended for six months.
  • A second or subsequent offense of one ounce or less carries a penalty of up to one year in jail, a maximum $1,000 fine, plus court costs.

The penalties get much steeper for marijuana distribution, trafficking and manufacturing.  All of these are felonies with longer prison sentences and higher fines.

Why Do I Need to Hire a Columbia Marijuana Possession Lawyer?/

If you’re thinking about representing yourself in court, think again.  When you’re headed into a fight, you don’t want one hand tied behind your back.  You’d better believe a tough and experienced prosecutor knows the ropes and will aggressively work to convict you.  Don’t take chances with your future.  Don’t let one bad decision now affect you for the rest of your life.

By hiring an experienced, highly trained marijuana possession lawyer in Columbia, SC, you have a relentless advocate on your side.  A lawyer will craft a strong defense and argue it effectively.  Don’t go it alone.  For a free initial consultation about your marijuana possession case, call Joe Leventis at (803) 256-0113.

What Does it Cost to Hire a Columbia, SC Marijuana Lawyer?/

Costs vary, depending on the particulars of your case.  A lawyer may charge a flat fee for a specific phase of the case (such as the preliminary/pretrial hearing and motions) or an hourly rate.

Either way, you must pay the attorney an advance fee known as a retainer, based on either all or part of the flat fee or an estimated number of hours.  If an attorney works on an hourly rate, as legal services are provided, the hourly fee is deducted from the retainer; when it’s gone, you will be billed for more money.

In general, whether your lawyer is working on an hourly rate or flat fee, retainers for a marijuana possession lawyer in Columbia, SC  start around $2,000 for misdemeanors.  Contact the Leventis Law Firm for more detailed information about the specific cost of your case.

South Carolina Marijuana Statistics/

Columbia, SC marijuana lawyerData shows that in 2010 marijuana was the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in South Carolina. There were 6,085 people admitted into drug rehabs for marijuana dependence. Of that number, 68.2% were male and 31.8% were female. Individuals 12-17 years of age were the largest demographic admitted to treatment for marijuana abuse in South Carolina.

Roughly 34% of South Carolina high school students, grades 9-12, report using marijuana one or more times.

In a recent Recovery Connection survey, 7% of South Carolina residents reported using illicit drugs in the past month; the national average was 8.02%. Additionally, 3.09% of South Carolina residents reported using an illicit drug other than marijuana in the past month; the national average was 3.58%.

As a direct consequence of drug use, 584 persons died in South Carolina in 2007. This is compared to the number of persons in South Carolina who died from motor vehicle accidents (1,062) and firearms (592) in the same year.

The rate of drug-induced deaths in South Carolina exceeds the national average.

U.S. Recreational Marijuana Facts/

The federal law regarding marijuana in the U.S. allows state legislators to decide for themselves whether or not to prohibit marijuana.  Many state authorities in the U.S. have allowed marijuana for medical use. In addition, more administrative districts are legalizing marijuana for recreational usage.

As of January 2019, there are 10 states plus the District of Columbia in which the recreational use of marijuana is legal or the legalization is planned to be approved soon: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Vermont. Medical marijuana is now legal in 33 states.

The retail sales of cannabis for recreational use have grown considerably since 2014, amounting to about $4.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, according to Statista. The leading market in terms of overall cannabis sales is California, with sales of about $5.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.

According to Statista, U.S. recreational marijuana retail sales from 2015 to 2021 are projected to skyrocket from $1 billion to $8.7 billion.

Marijuana is the least potent of all the cannabis products and is often smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes. As of 2016, it remains the most popular cannabis product, with more than 54% of the market value, Statista reports. However, with the advent of legal marijuana, there has been an explosion of marijuana derivatives available on the market, from concentrated oils to topical creams. One of the most popular alternatives to smoking is edible marijuana.

Public opinion on legal marijuana in the United States has changed drastically since the early 2000s. Although marijuana use has long been considered a sign of delinquent behavior and socially objectionable, a survey conducted in October 2017 found that about 64% of Americans believed that marijuana should be legalized, a sign of the changing times, Statista states. As of 2017, about 123 million Americans claimed to have used marijuana at some point in their lifetime, or about one in three Americans. Among U.S. adults, the most common reasons for using marijuana are for relaxation, stress relief, and to better enjoy social experiences.

A Marijuana Possession Attorney Can Interpret the Statistics/

As marijuana trends become more convoluted and complicated nationwide, the value of an experienced marijuana possession lawyer becomes abundantly clear.  If you have been arrested for marijuana possession, leave nothing to chance.  Hire an aggressive attorney with years of experience who can champion your case.  Call the Leventis Law Firm now at (803) 256-0113 for a free initial consultation.

Marijuana Arrests in South Carolina/

While the number of marijuana-related arrests in the United States decreased an average 3.8% annually from 2008 to 2012, total marijuana arrests in South Carolina Marijuana possession lawyer in Columbia, SCincreased an average 13.1% each year during the same period, according to a report authored by Jon Gettman, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Shenandoah University.  Arrests for marijuana possession alone increased an average 12.4% each year during that same period.

South Carolina represented one of the largest percentage increases in marijuana arrests among 50 states nationwide, according to the study.  Professor Gettman used data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report to put together the arrest analysis.

There were 18,599 arrests for marijuana offenses in South Carolina in 2007, representing an arrest rate of 422 per 100,000, which ranks South Carolina at No. 7 in the nation. There were an estimated 310,000 past-year marijuana users in South Carolina during 2007. Reconciling this estimate with the number of arrests for marijuana offenses provides an arrest rate of 6,000 per 100,000 users, which ranks South Carolina at No. 1 in the nation.

In terms of overall severity of maximum sentences for marijuana possession, South Carolina ranks No. 11 in the nation based on penalties for a first offense, the Gettman study states.

The data show that in at least 21 states, pot arrests went up from 2014 to 2016, even as weed has been legalized and decriminalized in other states and cities.

Marijuana Arrests in the U.S./

Marijuana arrests have been rising in the U.S. as a whole in recent years. There is now an average of one marijuana bust roughly every 48 seconds, according to a new FBI report cited in a Forbes magazine article.

The increase in U.S. marijuana arrests —659,700 in 2017, compared to 653,249 in 2016—is driven by enforcement against people merely possessing the drug as opposed to selling or growing it, the data shows.  In 2017, there were 599,282 marijuana possession arrests in the country, up from 587,516 in 2016. Meanwhile, busts for cannabis sales and manufacturing dropped, from 65,734 in 2016 to 60,418 in 2017.

Marijuana Possession Defenses/

If you are charged with possession of drugs, either for personal use or with intent to sell, a Columbia, SC marijuana lawyer can determine which defenses might apply to your case. Different states approach the problem of illicit drugs in different ways, with the federal government having the toughest drug sentencing guidelines. However, drug possession defenses are fairly universal across state lines. Some defenses challenge the stated facts, testimony or evidence in the case; others target procedural errors, often search and seizure violations; and some defendants challenge drug possession charges on the basis of an affirmative defense, such as the right to use medical marijuana in some states, according to FindLaw.

Here are some defenses to drug possession charges, some more common than others:

Unlawful Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to due process of law, including lawful search and seizure procedures prior to an arrest. Search and seizure issues are quite common in drug possession cases. Illicit drugs found in “plain view,” such as on a car’s dashboard after a legal traffic stop, may be seized and used as evidence. But drugs found in the trunk of a car after prying it open with a crowbar, assuming the suspect did not give permission, cannot be entered into evidence. If the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated, then the drugs cannot be used at trial and the charges typically are dismissed.

Drugs Belong to Someone Else

A common defense to any crime charge is to simply say you didn’t do it. The drug possession equivalent is to claim the drugs aren’t yours or that you had no idea they were in your apartment, for example. A skilled Columbia marijuana possession lawyer  will pressure prosecutors to prove that the joint found in the car actually belonged to his or her client and not one of the other three passengers.

Crime Lab Analysis

Just because it looks like cocaine or LSD doesn’t mean it necessarily is. The prosecution must prove that a seized substance is indeed the illicit drug it claims it is by sending the evidence to a crime lab for analysis. The crime lab analyst then must testify at trial in order for the prosecution to make its case.

Missing Drugs

A skilled marijuana possession attorney will make sure prosecutors are able to produce the actual drugs for which their client is being charged. Similar to the need for crime lab analysis, prosecutors who lose or otherwise lack the actual drugs risk having their case dismissed. Seized drugs often get transferred several times before ending up in the evidence locker, so it should never be assumed that the evidence still exists during trial.

Drugs were Planted

This may be difficult to prove, since a police officer’s sworn testimony carries a lot of weight in the courtroom. Furthermore, other officers may be reluctant to blow the whistle on a fellow officer. But your attorney can file a motion that, if approved by the judge, requires the department to release the complaint file of the given officer. This file contains the names and contact of information of those who made the complaints, who can then be interviewed by your attorney or a private investigator.

Entrapment

While law enforcement officials are free to set up sting operations, entrapment occurs when officers or informants induce a suspect to commit a crime he or she otherwise may not have committed. If an informant pressures a suspect into passing drugs to a third party, for example, then this may be considered entrapment. As a rule of thumb, entrapment occurs where the state provides the drugs in question.

Contact the Leventis Law Firm Today/

For a strong defense and an aggressive advocate, contact marijuana possession attorney Joe Leventis at (803) 256-0113 for a free initial consultation.  Joe possesses years of experience in successfully defending clients against marijuana charges.  Let him champion your case.

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