Pubdate: Mon, 10 Feb 2003
Source: Anderson Independent-Mail (SC)
Copyright: 2003 Independent Publishing Company, a division of E.W. Scripps
Author: Samantha Epps


IVA - The town of Iva has made a change in its laws that will help police 
crack down on people who operate drug houses.

The ordinance, which the council approved last month, allows police to 
charge someone with operating a drug house whenever they can prove that the 
person had prior knowledge of drugs being manufactured in or sold from the 
home, Lt. Tommy Miller said.

"We are bringing the town code into synch with the state law that says it's 
not only illegal to use or manufacture illegal substances, but it is also 
illegal to aid and abet people who do it," town attorney Mary MacCormac said.

Previously, police would respond to a house where drug activity had been 
reported but not be able to charge anyone because they couldn't find any 
illegal substances, despite seeing drug paraphernalia in the house, Lt. 
Miller said.

Now, the town can prosecute people just for allowing the drug activity in 
their homes, he said.

However, the town will not use the beefed-up law to harass residents who 
may have rolling papers "because they roll their own cigarettes," or those 
who may have scales "because they weigh seeds for their gardens," Ms. 
MacCormac said.

But the ordinance will help police charge people who would have escaped 
conviction before due to a technicality, she said.

"The key to the ordinance is proving that a person has knowingly opened 
their home for activity such as running a meth lab or operating what is 
sometimes called a 'crackhouse,'" she said. "This can also include a 
landlord who knows his house is being used for this kind of activity and 
has not taken steps to prevent it."

In order to prove that an owner had prior knowledge of drug activity in a 
house, police could use a series of incident reports that have been filed 
at the address or previous complaints by neighbors, Ms. MacCormac said.

The ordinance, which is closely patterned after the city of Anderson's 
ordinance about the same crime, categorizes it as a misdemeanor, she said.
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