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South Carolina man accused of having 11 marijuana plants in car

Marijuana charges can have long-term consequences. Police say that they arrested a 36-year-old man on the 1000 block of Airport Boulevard in Columbia with 11 marijuana plants in his car. In South Carolina, penalties for drug charges can be harsh. Possession of over one ounce is a strong case for intent to sell, which is a felony. If a person is found guilty of possessing 10 pounds of marijuana or more, there is a mandatory sentence of at least one year in prison and a maximum of up to 10 years. A conviction may also bring a fine of up to $10,000.

Possessing 100 pounds of marijuana carries a mandatory prison sentence of at least 25 years and a fine as high as $25,000. Penalty-wise, it is not a far jump to possession of 10,000 plants. Possessing 10,000 plants carries a sentence of 25 to 30 years and a fine of up to $200,000. An experienced criminal defense attorney may help mitigate against maximum sentencing through a plea bargain or refuting evidence in a search and seizure case.

The suspect here faces criminal charges for drug manufacturing and intent to distribute, but the full extent of the charges is not clear. Also, whether or not the man has any prior marijuana convictions can increase his potential sentence upon a conviction.

Officers pulled the suspect over because his car allegedly reeked of marijuana. Police may stop and search a vehicle if they have probable cause to believe that a crime is being committed or that the car might contain contraband. In addition to smelling the marijuana, police say that they saw the drug through the window after stopping the automobile.

Five of the plants were said to have been found in a trash bag in the back seat. The other six of the plants were supposedly found in a trash bag in the trunk. The total street value of the plants may be as high as $33,000.

Source: WLTX, "Police: Man had $33,000 in marijuana in car," Tony Santaella, Oct. 17, 2012

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