Facing drug charges in South Dakota can be stressful for anyone. Many tourists with a valid out-of-state medical marijuana prescription are stunned to learn that South Dakota law does not recognize that prescription as valid. In any situation — whether the allegations involve possession or a more serious distribution charge — the potential consequences are staggering. You likely have many questions about how a drug charge (and potential conviction) can impact your life. An experienced defense lawyer can give you the guidance you need.
Step One: Understanding The Charges And Potential Penalties
To start things off, it is crucial for you to understand what you are facing. South Dakota controlled substance laws are harsh. While possession of less than two ounces of marijuana is treated as a misdemeanor, the consequences can still bring jail time, fines, the loss of driving privileges and other direct penalties imposed by the state. But, there are external problems that can also arise. Criminal background checks into the future can adversely impact housing and job opportunities. For college students, financial aid may be at risk.
Possession of more than two ounces of marijuana, or any other controlled substance, will bring felony charges. Obviously, distribution, intent to distribute and manufacturing allegations raise the stakes even higher.
Step Two: Understanding Your Rights
Police are looking to enforce drug laws and often try to cajole individuals to admit guilt. You need to know that you have the right to remain silent and have an attorney present for any police interrogation. While the state may offer you a plea deal, the deal may not be as attractive as you think. Prosecutors want to get a conviction. They are not in the business of protecting your rights. If police were overzealous in conducting an unlawful search or violated your rights in any other way, the prosecutor is not obligated to explain that to you. A criminal defense lawyer can review the specific details and evidence and help you to protect your rights.
Step Three: Working With A Lawyer To Present A Strong Defense
Rolling over without a fight will not likely protect your rights – or your future. Working with a local lawyer with substantial experience in court will provide you with a guide who knows the tendencies of law enforcement, prosecutors and judges. Flaws and weaknesses in the prosecution’s case can lead to dismissal of the charges or favorable plea arrangements that the government is not likely to provide. A skilled lawyer knows how to present the facts and argue the law to obtain the best possible outcome.