When is a drug crime a federal offense rather than a state offense?

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2022 | Blog, Drug Crimes |

Drug crime convictions often come with large fines, lengthy prison sentences and long-term repercussions.

Most drug crimes are state-level crimes, but depending on the circumstances of the charges, you could easily find yourself facing a more severe federal charge.

The nature of the crime

Crimes concerning the possession and manufacturing of controlled substances often stay at the state level. However, if you transport drugs through a mail service or across state lines, you could automatically face the federal offense of drug trafficking.

The location of the arrest

You could face federal prosecution if the location of the crime occurred on government property. This includes any property under federal jurisdiction, such as national parks.

The type and amount of drug

The federal government categorizes controlled substances into five schedules. Drugs in lower schedules like Schedules I and II have a high potential for substance abuse, which has resulted in increased regulation. Large amounts of drugs, especially highly regulated substances, can change a simple act of possession to a federal charge of possession with intent to distribute, drug trafficking, drug smuggling and more.

Who arrested you

If local police arrest you and the crime is relatively straightforward, then the courts will prosecute you at the state level. However, a similar or even equal crime can turn into a federal crime if a federal officer made the arrest.

Who informed on you

Some informants provide information to the courts in exchange for lighter sentencing. If that informant faced a federal charge when they implicated you, you could also face federal charges.

Although both state and federal charges carry heavy repercussions, federal charges have more severe consequences and require different defense strategies to combat them. Knowing the lines between state and federal crimes can help you protect yourself.