South Carolina readers may not be aware that it’s possible to be charged with trafficking without selling drugs. The way drug laws are written, a defendant could be charged with trafficking simply for possessing a large amount of illicit substances for personal use or to give to friends.

For example, tech billionaire Henry T. Nicholas III was arrested for alleged drug trafficking on Aug. 7. Apparently, the Broadcom co-founder was staying at a casino-resort in Las Vegas when hotel security discovered drugs in his suite. They contacted Las Vegas police, and responding officers allegedly discovered cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and methamphetamine in his possession. Both he and a female companion were taken into custody, charged with trafficking drugs and released on their own recognizance.

Observers point out that, due to his wealth, Nicholas was probably not selling drugs for profit. Instead, he could have been giving drugs away to friends. Unfortunately, the law does not take into account whether someone was selling drugs, giving them away or keeping them for personal use. The law only focuses on whether the amount of drugs a defendant allegedly possessed exceeded the legal threshold for trafficking. Nicholas co-founded Broadcom in 1991 and resigned from the company in 2003. He has had previous brushes with the law. In 2008, he was indicted for alleged securities fraud and drug possession, but both cases were eventually dismissed.

If convicted, individuals arrested on drug trafficking charges could face serious consequences, including incarceration and fines. However, defendants may receive a better outcome by contacting a criminal defense attorney to represent them in court. In some cases, an attorney can negotiate a favorable plea agreement that reduces the potential penalties.

Source: CBS News, “Tech billionaire Henry Nicholas facing drug trafficking counts in Vegas“, Aug. 10, 2018