What Are Common State and Federal Drug Crimes?
Drug crimes are complicated because drug laws differ greatly from state to state. A drug might be legal in one state, whereas it could be considered illegal in the neighboring state. Because of this and other factors, drug crimes may be charged as state or federal offenses.
The most common type of drug crime is drug possession. This offense includes knowingly possessing or having the ability to possess an illegal controlled substance. The severity of your charges for drug possession may depend upon what drug you possessed and how much of the substance was in your possession. In order to be charged, the accused must have knowingly and intentionally possessed a controlled a substance, done so without a valid prescription, and possessed enough of the drug for either personal use or sale.
Drug distribution is also fairly common in Virginia. This crime refers to the illegal sale or delivery of controlled substances. Among the most common ways to be charged for drug distribution is if you unknowingly attempt to sell a controlled substance to an undercover police officer.
Drug manufacturing is the cultivation of controlled substances for the purpose of either sale or personal use. The act of drug-cultivating may include growing marijuana plants or using a laboratory to create crystal meth or LSD.
Conspiracy is the promotion or planning to manufacture and distribute illegal controlled substances. Crimes classified as a continuing criminal enterprise are any drug trafficking in connection with at least five other parties.
Drug trafficking can refer to either the sale of large amounts of controlled substances or the sale and movement of a controlled substance across state lines for the purpose of selling the drug. A person may be convicted for drug trafficking if they made an illegal sale of a controlled substance, there was a complex conspiracy at the heart of a drug sale network, the accused supplied or delivered a controlled substance across state lines, or if they were in possession with the intent to distribute a significant quantity of controlled substances.
When Does a Drug Crime Become a Federal Offense?
Local municipality police officers are responsible for most drug crime arrests. However, be that as it may, anyone arrested for a drug offense may be charged with both state and federal crimes since many drugs are illegal at both the state and federal levels. The most direct line to federal drug charges is if the arresting or investigating officer was a federal agent, such as one representing the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Another way for your drug offense to end up being charged as a federal crime includes instances where a task force made up of local and state officers are working together and someone sells to an informant working for the task force officers.
You do not want your drug crime to be tried at a federal level, as the federal criminal justice system generally has more severe sentences.
What Decides Whether a Drug Trafficking Offense is Tried in State or Federal Court?
State courts have jurisdiction over any drug offense that occurs within their state. Any drug crime could be charged as a federal drug offense and be tried in federal courts. However, some state laws may legalize certain drugs. If someone in a state abides by the laws of their state, they may not face charges for drug possession, even if that drug is illegal (such as marijuana) on a federal level.
Drug offenses may end up in federal courts if drug trafficking takes a controlled substance across state lines or involves a substantial quantity of drugs. Similarly, a case may go to federal court if any of the crime transpired on federal property or if a federal agency was involved in the drug trafficking investigation.
What Are Some of the Major Differences Between State and Federal Charges for Drug Trafficking?
One of the reasons that the feds will get involved with drug trafficking cases that go across state lines is that local and state law enforcement don’t have the authority to investigate a crime that happened in a different state. Federal investigators do have that right, however, and can broaden the scope of the investigation without concern for state lines.
The most common type of drug offense in Virginia is drug possession. Meanwhile, the most common type of federal drug charge is drug trafficking, which comes with far more severe consequences if convicted.
Many Virginia drug crimes are misdemeanors. The federal government, meanwhile, has very severe mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. That means that the crime charged at the federal level may be associated with punishments that are much more severe if that same crime was charged at the state level.
Contact Us for Your Initial Case Evaluation Today
There are a few differences between state and federal drug offenses. The most important, however, is that federal drug crimes come with far more serious consequences. If you are facing federal drug crimes, it is imperative that you speak with a lawyer about your case immediately. The sooner your attorney understands the facts of your case, the sooner that attorney will be able to begin crafting a strong criminal defense strategy.
The Law Office of Seth C. Weston has years of experience representing clients facing several different types of drug charges, including those who were charged with federal crimes. Due to the seriousness of drug trafficking charges, we strongly encourage you to speak with our law firm without further delay. To discuss your case with a member of our legal team, please call our Roanoke law offices at (540)-384-4585.