Jury nullification is a controversial topic no matter what state you are in, and attorneys in South Carolina courts are not permitted to argue for nullification.
Although 35 states and the District of Columbia have now legalized or decriminalized marijuana for recreational or medical use, it is still illegal in South Carolina. Possession of even small amounts of weed will get you arrested here.
Most Americans either use marijuana or agree that our fellow citizens should be allowed to use it, which means that many defendants on trial for charges of simple possession in SC may be acquitted despite South Carolina's outdated drug laws.
Until South Carolina catches up to the rest of the country and legalizes marijuana possession, jury nullification (which we cannot argue) may be the best way to express the conscience of the community and, well, nullify our state's unfair drug laws.
Jury Nullification in South Carolina
Attorneys, judges, and legal scholars are rightfully cautious about jury nullification. In South Carolina and most states, attorneys are not permitted to argue nullification to a jury. Why?
If you feel strongly that marijuana prohibition is ridiculous and that our legislature is behind the rest of the nation and world on this issue, jury nullification may seem like a great way for everyday citizens to send a message to police, prosecutors, and lawmakers that the laws need to be changed.
If you are on trial and facing prison time for smoking a joint or for carrying a bag of weed in your pocket, jury nullification allows jurors to choose a verdict that is Just rather than blindly following the law as written.
Attorneys are not allowed to argue nullification, but jurors absolutely have the right to nullify, and no one can question their decision once it is made. It's one of the beautiful things about American jurisprudence.
The Dark Side of Jury Nullification
One reason that talk of nullification is taboo in the courtroom is how it was used historically in the Jim Crow South to acquit white abusers or murderers of black victims.
Nullification can be an effective tool to find justice in an unfair prosecution. It can also be an effective tool to deny justice based on jurors' prejudices.
Jurors in the Jim Crow South were predominantly white men. When juries were made up of racist white men, nullification verdicts represented the conscience of white racist men in the community.
On the other hand, when juries are made up of a representative sample of the community, nullification verdicts represent the conscience of the community as citizen-jurors attempt to find justice.
Marijuana Possession Charges in Myrtle Beach SC?
If you are charged with simple possession of marijuana in South Carolina, we can most likely get your case dismissed or find an alternative resolution that will keep the charges off your record. If your case is not dismissed and we go to trial, there are many possible defenses that you may have depending on the facts of your case and whether the prosecution adequately prepares their case.
A jury nullification verdict is also a possibility should your case go to trial.
Our Myrtle Beach SC drug crime defense attorneys regularly handle minor and major drug offenses in the Myrtle Beach, Conway, and Rock Hill areas.
If you have been arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, distribution of marijuana, or trafficking marijuana in SC, schedule a free consultation with a defense lawyer on the Axelrod team. Call us at (843) 916-9300 or fill out our contact form today.