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Possession of drugs in South Dakota

  • Did you know that there are actually three different ways you can be charged with drug possession in South Dakota? One of those ways is particularly unique to the state -- which may be why it ties (along with Wyoming and South Carolina) for the highest number of drug arrests in the nation.

Most people are familiar with the first way you can end up with a drug charge: You get caught with actual drugs in your possession. South Dakota is notoriously rough on drug offenders. Even a small amount of marijuana can lead to a $2,000 fine and a year in jail.

Constructive possession is another route that prosecutors can use to convict people of drug possession. In essence, constructive possession is the charge that law enforcement will use when they aren't sure whose drugs they just found in a home or car -- so they simply charge everybody who could have possibly had access and control of those drugs. That means if your college roomie hides his pot stash in the common bathroom you share, you can both be arrested.

Finally, in a unique twist, South Dakota officials can arrest you for possession of drugs if you test positive for an "unauthorized" drug in your system. This is known as the internal possession law. Depending on what drug is found in your system, you can be facing either a misdemeanor or a felony -- no matter how long ago you ingested the drugs.

For example, imagine that your neighbor tells the police that you're selling marijuana. They show up to your door with a warrant and search your apartment. Although they find nothing but a pot pipe in your possession, they aren't content to charge you with having drug paraphernalia. Instead, they ask a judge for a warrant to take your blood or urine -- and then charge you with possession based on any positive results for a controlled substance for which you do not have a prescription.

Make no mistake -- if you've been charged with drug possession of any sort in South Dakota, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney's assistance as quickly as possible.

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