Possession of a controlled substance is a serious offense in South Dakota, and the consequences can vary depending on whether the case is charged in state court or federal court. Understanding the differences between the two and the relevant sentencing guidelines is important for anyone facing these charges.
State Court In South Dakota, possession of a controlled substance is a state law violation and is typically charged in state court. The penalties for this offense depend on the type and amount of the controlled substance involved. For example, possession of marijuana may result in a fine and/or a period of imprisonment, while possession of a more serious drug, such as heroin or cocaine, may result in more severe penalties.
Federal Court Possession of a controlled substance may also be charged in federal court if the drug was transported across state lines or if the defendant is part of a larger drug trafficking organization. Federal charges carry stricter penalties than state charges and are often accompanied by longer prison sentences and higher fines. In higher quantity and/or distribution cases with numerous defendant’s, federal prosecutors will charge the defendant’s with conspiracy to possess or distribute a controlled substance.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines Federal sentences for possession of a controlled substance are determined by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. These guidelines take into account the type and amount of drug involved, the defendant’s criminal history, and other factors to determine the appropriate sentence.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences. In addition to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, there are also mandatory minimum sentences for certain quantities of drugs. These mandatory minimum sentences require a minimum prison sentence for a defendant convicted of possessing a specified amount of a controlled substance. For example, if a defendant is convicted of possessing 500 grams or more of a mixture of a substance containing methamphetamine, the mandatory minimum sentence is 5 years in prison. If the substance is in a purer form, called ice or actual, the guideline sentences will increase.
In conclusion, possession of a controlled substance is a serious offense in South Dakota, and the consequences can vary depending on whether the case is charged in state court or federal court. Understanding the differences between the two and the relevant sentencing guidelines is important for anyone facing these charges. If you or someone you know is facing a controlled substance possession charge, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney like Sonny Walter to assist you.