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What Is a Non-Violent Drug Offense?

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What Is a Non-Violent Drug Offense?

A non-violent drug offense is a drug offense that does not involve violence or the threat of violence. Examples of non-violent drug offenses include simple possession of a controlled substance, drug possession with intent to distribute, or drug trafficking.

Although “non-violent drug offense” sounds less serious than a “violent drug offense,” and it often is, a conviction can still carry serious penalties in South Carolina including hefty fines and prison time.

Here’s what you need to know about non-violent drug offenses in South Carolina.

What’s the Difference Between a Violent and Non-Violent Drug Offense?

The difference between a violent drug offense and a non-violent drug offense is actual violence or the threat of violence in relation to a drug offense. Examples include drug-related homicide or using a firearm or other weapon during the trafficking, distribution, or sale of drugs. Additionally, in some places, including South Carolina, even the possession of a weapon can mean the difference between being charged with a violent versus a non-violent drug offense.

Notice that even the threat of violence can also mean the difference between a non-violent drug offense and a violent drug offense. This threat may be physical or verbal and it may involve a weapon or not.

What Are Penalties for a Conviction of a Non-Violent Drug Offense in South Carolina?

The penalties for a conviction of a non-violent drug offense in South Carolina depend on several factors, including prior convictions, the exact nature of the crime, the type of drug(s) involved, the quantities of drugs involved, the use of violence (real or threat), and the existence of any other aggravating factors. Penalties become harsher with increasing number of offenses.

(However, don’t assume that a first offense automatically carries with it a light penalty. For example, South Carolina Code Section 44-53-370(b) allows for up to 15 years in prison or up to $25,000 in fines for a first offense related to certain Schedule I drugs such as opiates and LSD.)

For crimes that are less serious in nature, such as possession of small amounts of marijuana, a conviction will carry with it less severe penalties. In South Carolina, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor that can lead to up to 30 days in jail or $100-$200 in fines for a first offense. First-time offenders may have other options, such as participation in diversion programs or treatment programs, as well.

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at The Carolina Law Group

If you have been charged with a drug offense in Upstate South Carolina, call the criminal defense attorneys at The Carolina Law Group. We can help you understand your rights and your options. Where possible, we work with prosecutors to come to an agreement that’s beneficial for all parties, which may involve diversion or treatment programs for a first offense. If you have any questions about your rights and where to go from here, please call us at one of the numbers below and schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

The Carolina Law Group has four offices in South Carolina for your convenience: Greenville (principal office; call 864.312.4444), Greer (principal office; call 864.757.5555), Spartanburg (principal office; call 864.312.4444) & West Columbia (principal office; call 803.881.1110).

Call us at one of our four offices or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys. Our business hours are Monday – Thursday 8:30am – 5:30pm & Friday 8:30 am – 5 pm. Weekend and evening hours by appointment only. Our Greenville, SC law firm offers Spanish, Hindi, and Gujarati language translation services for your convenience.


Mr. Patel worked for the Greenville County Public Defender’s Office in 2005 after graduating from law school. While there, Mr. Patel handled thousands of cases ranging from low-level misdemeanors to high-profile murders. In March 2011, Mr. Patel and Mr. Desai formed The Carolina Law Group. Mr. Patel practices in the areas of criminal defense, family law, and personal injury. In 2011, Mr. Patel was elected as the President of the Greenville Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (GACDL).

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