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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 23575
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I was pulled over for a headlight out in south carolina and

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I was pulled over for a headlight out in south carolina and for some reason without saying anything they pulled my friend out of the back seat of my car and searched him without consent... found marijuana and then had "probable cause" to search the rest of the car. They found marijuana in a bag r didn't belong to anyone in the car, and none of us knew about it to come forward... so i received a minor possession. how should i go about this at my court date?
Hello,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am a criminal lawyer.

When you've been charged with a crime, you basically only have two options. You can fight the case, all the way through trial and verdict, if you want. You can also dispose of the case through a plea bargain.

If you fight the case, you would get to challenge the stop of your vehicle and the search too. However, if you lose the trial, you could face up to 30 days in jail upon conviction.

If you want to dispose of the case, South Carolina has diversion programs available for which, if this is your first offense, you would be eligible. That's a special form of supervision where you'd get anti-alcohol classes, fines, some community service but once you finished all of your conditions and the supervisory period, the case would be dismissed as to you and you could thereby avoid having a criminal conviction on your record.

One way or the other, even for something as low-level as this, you ought to have a lawyer if you can manage it. Diversion isn't given out automatically. It may have to be negotiated. And if you'd rather challenge the evidence rather than taking a plea, you'd need a lawyer for the hearings and trial as well.

You might want to go to court without one and just plead not guilty to keep your rights open and see if he state will offer you diversion. If you want it, you can accept it. If they don't offer you something that will keep your record clean, having already pled not guilty you can then ask the judge for a continuance so that you could come back on the next date with a lawyer.
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