Federal Drug Charges

Drug crimes vary greatly in how they’re classified, and it’s important to know that this can greatly affect their outcome. Largely due to our proximity with the international border, Arizona is a major state when it comes to drug trafficking and possession charges. If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug-related offense, the first thing you should do is figure out whether the crime falls under state or federal jurisdiction.
Why is this so important? Simple— it determines who presides over the case as well as its potential severity. The truth is that federal drug cases have only been on the rise lately (and this is especially true when it comes to fentanyl-related drug charges). These drug crimes are often considered more severe, but sometimes it is simply a matter of circumstance. Regardless, realizing you have a federal drug case will make you better prepared to fight it and / or find the best possible outcome. Here’s what you need to know:

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.

The Time to Take Action is Now!

Whether state or federal, drug charges of any kind can undoubtedly have a severe impact on your life and those you care about. The first thing you should do before anything else is seek out experienced legal assistance.
Yes, if you or a loved one is facing federal drug charges, our legal team is ready to thoroughly explore the details of your case and determine how you can get the best possible outcome. We are highly experienced in both federal and state drug cases, and we know how the legal process can differ for each. Dealing with drug charges of any kind is not a fun situation, but rest assured that we will do everything within our power to ensure you are treated fairly and get a suitable outcome.
Now, if you or a loved one has been recently charged, it is important that you do not speak with either state or federal authorities about the case, your actions, your legal plans, others who may have been involved in the situation, etc. Even if the charges are of the federal nature, do not speak with state law enforcement and vice versa. This is because these conversations may be considered evidence, and any available evidence can be used against you in court. If this has already occurred, contact us as soon as possible to determine the most streamlined course of action.

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We practice law the old fashioned way; by putting the client first. Our attorneys and support staff understand the importance of staying in frequent communication with our clients, and we are always willing to provide up-to-the-minute information on the status of our clients’ legal matters. We pride ourselves on offering personal service. We are small enough that you are a person to us, not just a case or file number.
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