Controlled substances get their name because governments heavily regulate their manufacture, use and possession, usually for good reasons. These drugs are universally recognized for their risk for abuse and addiction.
There are even specific classifications for these drugs and chemicals called “schedules,” which rank the substances according to their level of risk.
Because many of these controlled substances are illegal to possess and use, you might think that stealing one from another person wouldn’t count as a crime. After all, why would law enforcement concern itself with the theft of an illicit drug?
However, South Carolina takes controlled substance theft seriously.
Two wrongs don’t make a right
According to state law, it’s illegal for a person to take a controlled substance with the intent to deprive another person of the material, regardless of the drug’s schedule or legality. The law also applies to precursor drugs and chemicals such as ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine, which are common ingredients in illicit substances.
Penalties for controlled substance theft
For a first offense, controlled substance theft is a felony. A person convicted of this crime faces up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
However, if a court convicts a person for a second or later offense, the crime is still a felony – except the penalties on conviction become up to ten years of imprisonment and $10,000 in fines.
So, yes, stealing another person’s stash of controlled substances is just as much a crime as regular theft. Except a conviction for the offense is always a felony. Those facing charges should carefully contemplate their approach to defense in court because a conviction will lead to years behind bars.