Drug offenses vary greatly in severity. In fact, it’s perfectly normal to not know just how severe a particular drug offense can be. However, it’s important to realize that the state of Arizona takes all drug offenses very seriously, and things can move from the state to the federal level very quickly. In fact, a crime that was formerly at the state level can legally be bumped up to the federal level at any moment if authorities see fit.
Which is not the best news, since federal crimes often come with much harsher penalties that state ones. If you or a loved one is charged with a drug-related crime in Arizona, it’s therefore important to take it seriously and consult with an experienced Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. In the meantime, there are a variety of factors you should know about that help determine whether or not the drug case will advance to federal charges.
Were Any Federal Informants Involved?
If any members of federal law enforcement agencies were involved at any stage of the drug case, it is very likely that the offense will be considered federal. In many cases, the person who tipped off local law enforcement may have actually been a federal informant, resulting in the case being considered a federal one. Unfortunately, this is true even if local law enforcement did most of the work. Nevertheless, your defense attorney will review all the facts of the case and keep you informed on the potential outcomes.
Who Made the Arrest
Going along with the above, the person (or group of people) who actually made the arrest carries a lot of weight. Even if local law enforcement agencies were the ones conducting the case right up until the arrest, the case could easily turn federal if it was federal agents (like the DEA) who actually carried out the arrest.
Did the Crime Involve Crossing State Lines or Federal Boundaries?
Naturally, it’s also important to take a hard look at all of the specifics of the drug case. Were any state or country borders crossed? With this in mind, it’s important to look at both the actual drug sale as well as where the substances came from. Even if you were just charged with possession, it’s key to look at the big picture. If any aspect of the case involved legal borders being crossed, the case may already be considered federal or may quickly be bumped up to this level.
What Kind of Property the Crime Took Place On
Did the alleged crime take place on private, public or government property? It’s important to take this into consideration as well, since government jurisdiction changes depending on the type of property involved.
Any ‘Catch All’ Factors
Even if you find yourself shaking your head at all of the above points and thinking that federal law enforcement was not involved, it’s also crucial to point out the final category, the “catch all”. Essentially, this includes anything else that may have resulted in federal authorities being involved in the case. For example, sometimes it’s as simple as local law enforcement not having the time, funding or all the tools needed to carry out a drug case investigation or arrest, resulting in federal agents coming in as backup. Again, your attorney will review all the facts.
The Bottom Line
Preventing a drug offense from turning into federal charges in the first place should always be a top priority. Again, federal charges typically come with much harsher penalties and can have life-devastating effects. That said, the fight is far from over if your case has already become a federal one. With a hardworking, experienced Phoenix criminal defense lawyer on your side, you will increase your chances of getting the best possible outcome.
Don’t wait to get started; give us a call today! The sooner you seek out legal assistance with a drug charge, the better your options are likely to be.