Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID) Charges in SC

Possession with intent to distribute charges, or PWID charges, in SC are based on possession of a certain quantity of drugs, but the State must also prove an intent to distribute the drugs before you can be convicted.

In this article, we will discuss SC law on possession with intent to distribute different types of drugs, including:

  • What PWID charges mean in SC,
  • Threshold weights and “intent to distribute,”
  • Lesser included offenses of PWID charges in SC, and
  • The potential penalties for possession with intent to distribute charges in SC.

What are Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID) Charges in SC?

Possession with intent to distribute charges, or PWID charges, in SC can have severe consequences – the same as distribution or manufacturing charges.

PWID is a strange hybrid of simple possession and distribution charges – although you can be charged with possession with intent to distribute based solely on the weight of the drugs, and it is a “possession” offense, it still requires proof that you intended to distribute the drugs you possessed…

“Intent to Distribute” or Weight of the Drugs?

Most possession with intent to distribute charges are based on the weight of the drugs that were found.

SC Code § 44-53-370(d)(4) lists “threshold weights” for each type of drug – if police discover a quantity of drugs that weighs more than the threshold weight, they will usually automatically charge the person with possession with intent to distribute, even when there is no other evidence of an intent to distribute.

The threshold weights are:

  • Marijuana – more than one ounce,
  • Powder cocaine, crack cocaine, or meth – more than one gram,
  • Opium or morphine – more than two grains,
  • Heroin – more than two grains,
  • Hashish – more than ten grams,
  • LSD – more than 50 micrograms, or
  • MDMA – more than 15 dosage units (tablets or capsules).

The statute says that anyone in possession of more than the threshold weight of a drug is “prima facie guilty” of possession with intent to distribute.

That doesn’t mean you are automatically guilty of possession with intent to distribute – it means there is an “inference” that you intended to distribute the drug, which is enough for police to arrest you and charge you with PWID.

At trial, you can “rebut” the inference of PWID, and the prosecutor must prove that you intended to distribute the drug. Apart from the weight of the drugs found, additional evidence that would tend to prove an intent to distribute could include:

  • The drugs were packaged for resale (many small containers or baggies),
  • Baggies that can be used to package the drugs for resale,
  • Scales to weigh drugs for sale,
  • Ledgers or notes of drug sales and purchases,
  • Statements made by the defendant, and
  • Testimony of witnesses or codefendants.

Possession with Intent to Distribute Charges: Simple Possession is a Lesser Included Offense

What happens if the prosecutor proves that you possessed the drugs, but, despite the weight, does not prove that you intended to sell them?

You may have been arrested with three ounces of marijuana, for example, but that doesn’t mean you were going to sell it – a few ounces of marijuana are not an unusually large stash for someone who smokes regularly, and most drug users also have scales to weigh the drugs they buy so they don’t get ripped off…

If the intent to distribute is not proven (or if it is disproven by the defense), the jury is given the option of finding the defendant guilty of the lesser included offense of simple possession which will carry a significantly lower potential penalty.

Simple possession is a lesser included offense of possession with intent to distribute, just as PWID is a lesser included offense of drug trafficking.

Potential Penalties for Possession with Intent to Distribute Charges

The potential penalties for possession with intent to distribute charges are the same as the penalties for distribution or manufacturing charges in SC:

PWID Charges Penalties
PWID Marijuana 1st Offense Fines up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison
PWID Marijuana 2nd Offense Fines up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in prison
PWID Marijuana 3rd Offense Fines up to $20,000 and no less than five and up to 20 years in prison
PWID Crack, Cocaine, or Meth 1st Offense Fines up to $25,000 and up to 15 years in prison
PWID Crack, Cocaine, or Meth 2nd Offense Fines up to $50,000 and no less than five and up to 30 years in prison
PWID Crack, Cocaine, or Meth 3rd Offense Fines up to $50,000 and no less than ten and up to 30 years in prison
PWID Heroin 1st Offense Fines up to $25,000 and up to 15 years in prison
PWID Heroin 2nd Offense Fines up to $50,000 and no less than five and up to 30 years in prison
PWID Heroin 3rd Offense Fines up to $50,000 and no less than 10 and up to 30 years in prison
PWID MDMA/Molly/Ecstasy 1st Offense Fines up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison
PWID MDMA/Molly/Ecstasy 2nd Offense Fines up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in prison
PWID MDMA/Molly/Ecstasy 3rd Offense Fines up to $20,000 and no less than five and up to 20 years in prison
PWID LSD 1st Offense Fines up to $25,000 and up to 15 years in prison
PWID LSD 2nd Offense Fines up to $50,000 and no less than five and up to 30 years in prison
PWID LSD 3rd Offense Fines up to $50,000 and no less than 10 and up to 30 years in prison

 

Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID) Lawyers in Conway, SC

Attorney Johnny Gardner has over twenty years of trial experience defending misdemeanors and felonies in SC courtrooms, including drug crimes like drug possession, possession with intent to distribute, drug distribution, and drug trafficking.

If you have been charged with a drug crime or believe you are under investigation in SC, contact criminal defense Lawyer Johnny Gardner today for a free consultation to find out how we can help.


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