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First Offense for Marijuana: Will I Just Pay a Fine? 

It starts just like any other traffic stop; you were speeding, rolled a stop sign, or some other mild infraction. But, unlike other mild stops, you have a bag of weed in your car… A bag of marijuana that smells quite a bit, and now, police are searching the vehicle. This isn’t a great scenario for you, but you know that this is your first offense. So, you’ll just pay a small fine and it’s smooth sailing… right? In most scenarios, yes. But, sometimes this isn’t the case.

First Offense for Marijuana: Will I Just Pay a Fine?

You can still face jail time for your first offense possession charge. Both possession of paraphernalia and possession of marijuana are misdemeanor charges. Possession of paraphernalia carries a fine up to $500 and up to thirty days jail time. Possession of weed carries a fine of $100 to $200 and up to thirty days jail time. Therefore, your punishment will be based on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. In short, the judge will interpret the law as they see fit.

When it comes to paraphernalia, these factors can make punishment more severe:

  1. If the paraphernalia was near marijuana.
  2. How much marijuana is found with the paraphernalia.
  3. If your paraphernalia was part of the distribution and sale of marijuana.
  4. If the paraphernalia is specifically for use with marijuana.

As for the marijuana itself:

  1. If you were driving with the weed.
  2. You were near a place with children.
  3. If you have other (non-weed related) criminal offenses.
  4. It seemed like you had the intent to sell the weed.
  5. How much marijuana you have.

Now, if the police determine that you planned to sell or distribute the weed, your charge will be for possession with intent to sell. Furthermore, if you have a lot of weed, your charge will be for trafficking marijuana. These charges carry jail time for up to 5 years for first offenses. Therefore, no matter what your first offense is for, you can receive jail time for your first marijuana related offense.

Ultimately, driving with marijuana in the car can be bad news

Sure, your first offense can be an easy fine and move on. But, sometimes it’s not so cut and dry. So, consider not driving with it in your car. We understand that you want to have fun, enjoy your marijuana, and not be bothered. But, when you live in a state that has yet to legalize marijuana— you are putting yourself at risk. So drive safe, drive clean, and drive safely. But if it comes down to it, and you’ve failed to do so, we’re here to help you.

Paraphernalia Laws for South Carolina

If police find marijuana in your car, you might wonder if they will stop searching. But, it’s important to understand that they will not. Officers who find illegal substances in your car typically will find paraphernalia as well. Think about it: If you have marijuana on you, who’s to say that you don’t also have something with you to smoke it with? They will wonder if you planned on smoking the weed, or they think that you may have intended to sell the weed. So, if they consider this, and continue their search, you will likely face a paraphernalia charge as well. But what are the rules concerning smoking tools, and what makes the cut when it comes to getting a charge?

Paraphernalia Laws for South Carolina

The paraphernalia rules in South Carolina make the charge hard to avoid. South Carolina’s definition is extremely broad and covers a lot of materials and instruments. Basically, the law states that paraphernalia is any kind of instrument, device, or article used for creating, selling, or using drugs. So, even if you have a water bottle with a hole melted into it, foil, and dirty water… that charge is still pretty likely.

Now, not all devices used for smoking will make the cut…

Some devices have clear labels or receipts. Often, these state the ‘intended use’. But, ultimately, when it comes to deciding what’s what— a police officer has a good bit of discretion. The officer will inspect the device’s location and ask questions. Typically, drug users will have both the substance, and something to smoke it with in the same location. So, these two charges will typically go hand in hand.

What does the charge look like?

A second charge for possessing paraphernalia will be added on if a controlled drug is found in, or near, any devices that are designed for its use, sale, or making of the drug. The penalty is a simple $500 fine. However, this charge can add up when stacked with possessing marijuana itself.

Ultimately, the risk is up to you to take. Facing a marijuana charge is typically a one-two punch because keeping that piece handy is pretty likely. We do not advise driving with any type of illegal substance or pieces in your car. When it comes down to it, there is always the potential, when pulled over, for a smell, a suspicion, or a visible item to become your downfall. So, drive safe, drive smart, and drive clean. And in the event that you fail to do so, we offer our services.

Can You be Charged with “Drugged Driving” in South Carolina?

The answer to this question is a resounding YES.  In South Carolina, a person is guilty of DUI if he or she drives a motor vehicle within the State under the influence of “any drug, combination of drugs, or combination of drugs and alcohol to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive were ‘materially and appreciably’ impaired.” S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-2930(A) (West 2009)

In South Carolina, the implied consent laws apply.  Therefore, a person who drives a motor vehicle in the State is considered to have given consent to chemical tests of his breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining  the presence of alcohol or drugs or the combination of alcohol and drugs if arrested for an offense arising out of acts alleged to have been committed while the person was driving the motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-2950(A) (West 2009)

  • Further, the DMV in South Carolina MUST suspend the driver’s license, permit, or nonresident operating privilege of or deny the issuance of a license or permit to a person who drives a motor vehicle and refuses to submit to a blood test.  S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-2951(A) (West 2009)
  • The accused has the right to have a qualified person of his own choosing conduct additional independent tests at his expense. The failure or inability of the person tested to obtain additional tests does not preclude the admission of evidence relating to the tests or samples obtained at the direction of the law enforcement officer. Id. §§ 56-5-2950(B)(3),(D).

Penalties

  • First offense – fine of $400 or imprisonment for a period of not less than 48 hours, nor more than 30 days; Or minimum of 48 hours of public service; offender required to complete an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.  § 56-5-2930(A)(1).
  • Second offense – fine of not less than $2,100, but not more than $5,100 and imprisonment for a period of not less than 5 days, but not more than 1 year; offender required to complete an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.  § 56-5-2930(A)(2).
  • Third offense fine of not less than $3,800, nor more than $6,300, imprisonment for a period not less than 60 days nor more than 3 years; offender required to complete an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.  § 56-5-2930(A)(3).
  • Fourth and subsequent offense – imprisonment for not less than 1 year nor more than 5 years; offender required to complete an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.  § 56-5-2930(A)(4).

So, if you or a loved one has been arrested, and your arrest falls under the purview of any of these laws and penalties, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP toll-free at 877-374-5999 for a confidential consultation.

Public Intoxication Arrest at Fort Mill’s Carowinds

DUI Defense AttorneyFort Mill and Charlotte Mecklenburg’s Police Departments have banned together to arrest a North Carolina homeless man living in the woods near the ever-popular Carowinds.

Carowinds is unique as far as jurisdictional issues goes, because it lays right on the boarder of North and South Carolina, with half of the park in one state, and the other half in the other.

According to the arresting deputies, the homeless man was seen drunk in public while he was attempting to panhandle at a convenience store. When the officers requested him to cease and desist, he refused to do so, allowing the officers to arrest him.

The officers were alerted of this mischief late Wednesday night, when a clerk at a convenience store called in and said the homeless man was begging for money on Carowinds Blvd, even at the entrance into the park.

By the time the officers arrived, the 52-year-old man was sitting on a stack of empty beer bottles. He told the police that he had never been asked to leave, and denied ever carrying a sign.

When the defendant stood to hit feet, he could not remain stable without holding onto the top of the officer’s patrol car.

The defendant has been charged with public intoxication, public disorderly conduct, as well as trespassing. He is currently being held at the York County jail with a minimum bond of $732.50.

If you, or someone you know has been charged with any sort of drinking offense, whether it be public intoxication or a DUI, contact the experienced attorneys at Reeves, Aiken, and Hightower, LLP toll-free at 877-374-5999. Everyone deserves a proper defense. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.

Woman Charged After Found Huffing “Ultra Duster”

A woman from Rock Hill was found in her car by witnesses who say she was trying to spray herself in the face with Ultra Duster, an over-Blog-DWI 2the-counter computer cleaning spray that some people use for huffing purposes.  The woman claimed that she was blowing the dust cleaner in her face because she claimed to be hot and hypoglycemic.

A witness reports that she viewed a 50-year-old woman sitting in a sports utility vehicle about ten feet from an intersection near the Wal-mart.  She had her hazard lights flashing, and was forcing cars to move around her.  Further, according to the police report, the witness returned with her boyfriend just a while later to see the car parked in a driveway nearby.

When the couple approached the vehicle, they report that the woman was “rolling her head” holding a can of Ultra Duster upside down as she attempted to spray it into her face.  The witnesses thereafter called the police; they report that while they were waiting a person drove by and stated that the woman “huffs a lot of paint.”

When officials arrived at the scene, the woman reported to deputies that she was “hot and dizzy.”  The woman also told the police that she blew the spray in her own face because her car was low on gas, and she did not want to use the air conditioning.  She also stated that she sprayed the can to calm down, and that she suffers from hypoglycemia and depression. However, no snacks were present in the car to indicate attempts to recover from decreases in blood sugar.

The confused woman was charged with unlawful use of aromatic hydrocarbons after two cans of Ultra Duster were found discarded.  The woman also faces littering charges.  When the woman’s husband arrived, he informed police that the wife had problems with inhalants in the past.  Further, court records indicate that two counts of unlawful use of aromatic hydrocarbons were dismissed against the woman three weeks ago.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in North or South Carolina, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP.  For a confidential consultation, call our Fort Mill, South Carolina office at 803-548-4444, or our Charlotte, North Carolina office at 704-499-9000.

 

 

Police Find Weapons in a Car After it Smashed into a Tree in Rock Hill

A man, who told police that he was home from college, spent the evening in jail after authorities found several knives, brass knuckles, and a machete in his car.  This Blog-Drug Chargesincident occurred around 10:00 a.m., when police stopped a silver Honda Civic on Dave Lyle Boulevard after it ran off the road and struck a tree.  The 19-year-old driver attempted to reach the drivers door pocket before police ordered him out of the car.  He was then detained in handcuffs, and when police explored the vehicle, they noticed the smell of marijuana.

The young man told police that there was  a marijuana pipe and a grinder in the car; and further, after searching the car, they also located three types of knives, a package of rolling papers, five pieces of chemistry glassware with a makeshift hose and Keck clips in the truck, a set of brass knuckles and a marijuana smoking device.  A 10-inch machete was also found in the trunk, according to the report.

The 19-year-old told the officers that he used the glassware to make a Hookah for marijuana smoking use, and he said that the weapons were in the car because he recently returned home from college in Charleston, and he always keeps weapons in his car while in Charleston.  He is being charged with simple possession of marijuana, and unlawfully carrying weapons.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in South Carolina or North Carolina, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP.  You can reach our North Carolina office by calling 704-499-9000, and our South Carolina office at 803-548-4444.