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Three Levels of Drug Crimes in South Carolina - Definitions, Differences and Potential Ramifications

Three Levels of Drug Crimes in South Carolina - Erin Bailey Law

South Carolina has 3 levels of Drug Crimes with escalating penalties. Here, we will outline the definitions and differences among the 3 levels along with potential ramifications.


The lowest level of drug crime in South Carolina is Possession. The penalty for possession depends on which drug it is and whether it is a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd offense. 

Most drug possession crimes are misdemeanors, however a conviction for any drug crime can have ramifications beyond a criminal record. A drug conviction at any level may limit your employment, housing, travel, and educational opportunities for your entire life. 

Possession with Intent to Distribute/Distribution/Manufacturing

The next level of drug crime in South Carolina is Possession with Intent to Distribute/Distribution/Manufacturing. Each of these actions is covered under the same statute and carries the same penalty. The penalty will depend on which drug it is, and whether it is a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd offense. For all drugs, this level of drug crime is a felony. 

What turns a possession into a possession with intent to distribute? There are two possible things. 1) the weight of the drugs alone is enough for a legal inference that it was intended for distribution. OR 2) along with possession level weight, there were other circumstances that were evidence of distribution. 

The presence of scales, baggies, large quantities of cash, or having the drugs packaged ready for distribution can give rise to this level of drug crime, even if the weight is one that would typically be for possession. 


Drug trafficking is the most serious type of crime in South Carolina. All drug trafficking crimes are felonies, and most of them have mandatory minimum prison sentences. 

Trafficking is solely determined by the weight of the drugs. The penalties for trafficking increase depending on the weight of drugs, the type of the drugs, and whether it is a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd offense. 

Many trafficking drug crimes are also considered violent under South Carolina Law.


Learn more about our practice areas and criminal defense lawyers, or get in touch with the Erin Bailey Law team today.

This post is offered for general information only and is not legal advice. Our lawyers must make a case-by-case assessment of any claims. Results may vary depending on the facts involving any case.

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