Category: Drug Charges

Errors in South Carolina Crime Labs

An audit of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s (SLED) crime has revealed flawed examinations of gunshot residue samples over a period of a year and a half. The errors were found in 34 shooting cases in 13 different judicial districts and include samples tested in police officer Michael Slager’s North Charleston murder of unarmed [..]

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The Limits of Religious Freedom

A heroin dealer’s claim that his charges for distributing heroin to consenting adults violated his religious freedom was denied by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals week before last. The defendant was sentenced to 27 years in federal court in St. Louis, Missouri. Before his trial in St. Louis in 2015, Anderson demanded that the [..]

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Horry County Drug Court

The 15th Circuit Drug Court program has been up and running for eight years now. Results? I have seen participants who came out of the program clean and sober. The opportunity to participate in the program has literally saved lives and kept families together. I have also seen participants who could not stay clean, flunked [..]

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The Largest Mass Dismissal of Cases in the History of the United States

Before she crashed and burned, Annie Dookhan was a superhero at the Massachusetts state crime lab. She processed and tested drug samples three times as fast as her colleagues and assisted in obtaining convictions in thousands of cases involving an estimated 40,000 drug samples. An audit performed in 2010 found that she was working unusually [..]

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Curtilage Revisited – Trafficking Weight Cocaine Suppressed

Last December, I wrote about State v. Bash, where the S.C. Supreme Court thankfully re-affirmed that a police officer cannot enter a person’s yard without a warrant or exigent circumstances in order to search for drugs.  The defendant was charged with trafficking in cocaine > 400 grams and trafficking in crack cocaine 10-28 grams.  The [..]

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No Right to Counsel in South Carolina Summary Courts

Of course there is a right to counsel, at least when a person is sentenced to jail time, but it is systematically denied to defendants in our state’s summary courts. Indigent defendants in S.C.’s summary courts typically are not provided with court-appointed counsel, even in serious cases such as DUI or domestic violence (CDV).  In [..]

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When is a Search Warrant Valid?

The short answer is: usually, but you never know until you investigate and challenge it.  In State v. Thompson, the S.C. Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and the trial court, finding that extensive documentation of the defendant’s drug dealings and connection to a particular residence does not constitute probable cause to issue a [..]

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Manslaughter and Drug Overdoses

A pre-filed bill in the South Carolina legislature would spell out that the offense of involuntary manslaughter applies to drug dealers whose customers die from an overdose, and it would increase the penalty for involuntary manslaughter from a maximum of five years to a maximum of 15 years in prison.  The bill would add the [..]

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Gonzalez v. State – Trafficking in Meth and Conflicts of Interest

In Gonzalez v. State, the S.C. Supreme Court granted post conviction relief (PCR) and vacated Gonzalez’ conviction for trafficking in methamphetamine based on his trial counsel’s conflict of interest.  Gonzalez, a juvenile, was convicted of trafficking in meth 400 grams or more after trial and sentenced to 30 years in prison.  His lawyer simultaneously represented [..]

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