Any crime can either be a state crime or a federal crime. State crimes
are any that break a specific state law, while federal crimes are those
that break a federal law. When a crime occurs in multiple jurisdictions,
such as drug trafficking across borders, it can be charged as a federal
crime. Depending on what crime you are accused of, you will be tried in
state or federal courts. Federal crimes often involve longer and more
intense criminal sentences than state crimes do.
Is my drug crime a federal charge?
Many drug crimes are both state crimes and federal crimes since the mere
existence of many illegal drugs are a violation of federal law. Each state
has their own drug laws. For example, marijuana is federally illegal,
but completely legal in some states and legalized for medical purposes
in others. Most drug arrests charged as a state crime involve the simple
possession of a drug. Selling, distributing, or manufacturing any drug
could be enough to land you in the federal court system.
A drug crime is a federal offense when:
- Sale, distribution, or manufacture of any illegal drug takes places
- A person crosses state lines or country borders with drugs
- Use of a criminal enterprise occurs
- They are found in a protected location zone
- An individual is arrested by a federal officer
- The decision is made with prosecution to charge as a federal crime
The biggest difference in how a crime is prosecuted is the sentencing that
will come if the accused is found guilty. Federal crimes carry harsher
penalties and longer sentences. State crimes tend to be convicted as misdemeanors
and can involve short jail time, a small fine, and probation.
In addition to being charged for the drug crime, those charged with federal
crimes may also be found to have participated in tax evasion for the product,
illegally obtained firearms, or broken other laws. Since drug crimes can
be charged as state crimes and federal crimes, it is important that anyone
charged with a drug crime contacts a criminal defense attorney right away
to defend them from these charges.