What Makes a Drug Case ‘Federal’?
A federal drug charge can virtually be any kind of drug-related offense, albeit above the state level. This may include possession (holding), distribution (selling), manufacturing (making or getting a substance ready for sale), importation (receiving a shipment or smuggling) or a combination of these offenses. Obviously, any of these can occur at the state level, so what elevates the charge to a federal one?
A drug case may fall under federal jurisdiction— that is, prosecuted by the U.S. Government instead of the state— for any of the following reasons:
- You were arrested by an official from a government agency (such as the Drug Enforcement Administration or DEA) as opposed to state law enforcement
- You are accused of manufacturing or distributing large amounts of illegal substances or illegal quantities of narcotics
- You are accused of transporting drugs into a state (or multiple states) outside of Arizona
- Your charges include drug conspiracy, which means you are accused of plotting or otherwise agreeing with one or more people to violate drug law
- You were arrested in a federal building or on a piece of property owned by the U.S. Government
Sometimes more than one of these situations will apply. In such circumstances, the charges may be more severe and/or numerous.
Penalties for Federal Drug Cases
The specific penalties you may be facing with your drug case may vary greatly depending on the details of the case. You may find yourself or your loved one facing fines, prison time or a combination of both. Long term probation and therapy may also be required. There is no one penalty that fits all cases– yours may very well be unique to the situation. That said, it is important to consider the fact that federal cases can, and very often do, involve lengthier prison sentences and probation periods. Federal convictions are also more likely to stay on your record.
Again, however, there is no “one size fits all” penalty here, and your particular situation may be very different than someone else you may know who was also charged with a drug crime. Key factors here include which kind of substance was involved and its quantity, the kind of charge (possession vs. distribution, for example) and whether this is a first time offense or a repeat one. If the charges are part of an ongoing investigation that is on a larger scale than your individual situation, your specific role and willingness to cooperate with the investigation will contribute greatly to the kinds of penalties you face.