Drug charges are widespread criminal charges in the United States. Depending on the circumstances of the case, drug charges can be prosecuted under federal or state laws. If you have been charged with a drug crime, it is essential to understand the difference between federal and state drug crimes as they have different penalties and different defense strategies.
Federal Drug Charges
Federal drug charges are brought by the United States government and are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office. These charges often involve large quantities of drugs and encompass charges like drug trafficking or manufacturing that cross state lines or involve multiple states. Federal charges, such as drug conspiracy charges, are also used to prosecute drug crimes that are not covered under state law.
Federal drug crimes are often handled differently than other crimes. They carry severe penalties, including mandatory minimum sentencing, fines, asset forfeiture, and the loss of certain civil rights, such as the right to vote or own a firearm. In some cases, a defendant convicted of a drug crime may face life in prison.
State Drug Charges
State drug charges are brought by the state government and are prosecuted by the district attorney’s office. State charges typically involve smaller amounts of drugs than federal charges, but they can still carry severe consequences. While state drug charges vary from state to state, they typically include drug possession, drug sales, drug trafficking, and drug manufacturing.
State charges typically involve smaller amounts of drugs than federal charges, but they can still carry severe consequences. According to the lawyers at Patituce & Associates, “even if you have a low felony and it is your first offense – you may have to go to prison.” The penalties if convicted of a drug charge may include, imprisonment, mandatory drug treatment programs, probation, and fines. Some states have drug courts, which are specialized courts that offer drug treatment and support to defendants who have a drug addiction and want to seek help.
While there are several key differences between state and federal charges, some of the main ones include:
- Jurisdiction: Federal drug charges are brought forth by the federal government and typically involve interstate drug trafficking or crimes not covered by the state
- Penalties: Federal charges carry more severe penalties that can include life in imprisonment, while state charges are typically less severe.
- Investigation: State drug investigations are typically conducted by local law enforcement. Federal drug charges are often the result of lengthy investigations by federal agencies, such as the drug enforcement administration or the FBI
- Defenses: The strategies employed for defending drug charges differ depending on the case & if they are charged at the state or federal level
Understanding the differences between federal and state drug charges is crucial in determining how to handle your case. Whether you are facing state or federal charges, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help you understand your rights and work to protect your future.