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What Makes A Drug Charge A Felony?

cocaine, handcuffs, spoon, and lighter on black table

Marijuana and cocaine arrests are the most common in South Carolina. You may wonder how prosecutors decide to go forward with a misdemeanor or felony conviction. One factor is key: weight.

Common Drug Crimes

Drug crimes are broken up into many subcategories that are determined by the circumstances of the arrest.

Some common drug charges people face include:

  • Possession
  • Possession with intent to distribute
  • Trafficking
  • Drug paraphernalia

The main factor for determining the severity of the charge is the amount of the drug present.


Simple possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense.

Felony marijuana charges include:

  • Possession with intent to distribute: one ounce to 10 pounds present
  • Trafficking: Over 10 pounds present

Even for a first offense, you could face up to five years in prison.


Cocaine is handled a lot more aggressively than marijuana. The only misdemeanor charge for a cocaine offense is a first-time possession of less than one gram.

Felony cocaine offenses include:

  • A second offense for possession
  • Possession with intent to distribute: one gram to ten grams present
  • Trafficking: over ten grams present

Drug paraphernalia charges are also commonly added on to misdemeanor and felony drug charges. This can be an additional charge if there are small bags or a scale in the same location as the drug in question.

Can A Felony Be Reduced To A Misdemeanor?

There are ways to get felony drug charges reduced, or even dismissed.

One common way of getting charges reduced is through plea bargaining. This is when the prosecution and defendant make an agreement that the defendant will plead guilty if they are given a lighter sentence or lesser charge.

Drug charges may also be dismissed completely if the defendant can prove the evidence was obtained illegally.

A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

If you are facing misdemeanor or felony drug charges, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney. A skilled attorney can help fight for you to get your charges reduced or dropped. The Law Offices of Marion M. Moses, LLC has years of experience handling complicated drug cases. Our experienced Columbia drug crime attorneys offer free consultations; contact us today to get started on your defense.