Drug crimes carry significant social stigma and a host of consequences, such as the potential loss of eligibility for federal student aid after a conviction or guilty plea. If there’s anything more frightening than the possibility of a drug conviction, it may be the potential of facing federal drug charges instead of state charges.
The federal government is notorious for having harsh criminal sentences and little leniency for those who struggle with addiction. At what point does a state drug offense wind up prosecuted in federal court?
Theoretically, any drug offense could become a federal crime
Although many drug arrests occur because of the actions of local or state police agencies, the same drugs are illegal at both the state and federal level in most places, including North Carolina. While it is common for the state to prosecute drug offenses that they make an arrest for, there are cases where the federal government asserts its jurisdiction.
Certain situations increase the likelihood of federal prosecution
The easiest way for someone to end up facing federal drug charges is for them to get arrested by a federal agent, such as someone who works for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). However, you could also face federal charges if you get arrested while on federal lands, like national parks.
Those who get caught bringing drugs in or out of a state or attempting to bring drugs on to an airplane may also face federal prosecution. Finally, circumstances in which the government alleges that someone played a role in an interstate or international drug conspiracy will almost always result in federal prosecution instead of state prosecution.
Fighting back against drug charges is usually in your best interest, but particularly so when the federal government is the one prosecuting you. An experienced attorney can help.