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Women at risk of charges over drug use during pregnancy

Drug charges can have severe implications for those accused, regardless of the substances involved or the circumstances of the allegations. A conviction can result in hefty fines, job loss and even jail terms, not to mention the strain it puts on you and your family. In South Carolina, as in many states, drug charges are taken very seriously, and a new law in another state may be focusing more heavily on penalizing certain drug users.

Recently, the Tennessee legislature approved a bill that could place great responsibility on pregnant women who are struggling with substance abuse issues. Should the bill become law, it would criminalize any women who used illegal drugs while pregnant if the drugs affected the outcome of the child’s birth. Such charges could be dropped if the woman agrees to undergo treatment. In a worst-case scenario, the bill could see women, struggling with overcoming addiction, now facing homicide charges. Added to this is the risk of drug charges.

Although the legislation aims to protect the unborn fetus from potentially damaging behavior on the part of its mother, some have debated whether it may do more harm than good. It is possible that a mother who is suffering from drug addiction will not seek help because she could then possibly face criminal charges. Nevertheless, other states have set a precedent with recent decisions in such cases.

Already 17 states condemn drug use during pregnancy as a form of child abuse. This includes a Supreme Court decision in South Carolina. Although it is undeniable that mothers should be encouraged to act responsibly during pregnancy, the matter is not so clear cut. Addiction is a hard thing to shake.

Matters such as this demonstrate how easily drug charges can arise, and this applies to all residents of South Carolina. Being convicted of a drug-related crime can have huge effects on your future, so it is essential to act quickly and wisely. An attorney with good knowledge of state legislation can help you negotiate your position. By ensuring your side of the story is conveyed, you can seek a fair resolution and possibly reduce the effect such charges can have on your life.

Source: The Wire, "Tennessee Passes Legislation to Criminally Prosecute Drug-Addicted Pregnant Women," Abby Ohlheiser, April 9, 2014

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