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When Are Drug Crimes Federal Charges?

After the legalization of marijuana in multiple states, the broadcasting of the hit Netflix original series Narcos, and the opioid overdose crisis sweeping through the United States, drugs have become an issue of national concern for many citizens.

However, long before drugs became the topic of national news, the United State’s government has been concerned with cracking down on drug trafficking. In fact, there are many federal laws concerning the use, creation, and distribution of drugs. For those who use, make, or sell drugs, it’s important to identify when an offense could be federally charged.

Federal Drug Crimes

Federal Property

Technically speaking, any drug crime can be a federal offense depending on the circumstances of the arrest. For example, committing a crime on federal property makes that crime an automatic federal offense. As the federal government owns the land, any law-breaking on this land is automatically considered a felony. Therefore, a simple possession charge becomes a federal offense if the drugs are found on a person on federally controlled land (e.g., state parks or federal buildings.) How likely a case is to be charged federally under these circumstances is another question.

Federal Informant

Another way to become involved with a federal investigation is if a federal informant provides your name to the government. It is not uncommon for the feds to make an offer of immunity or more lenient sentence to a suspect if they believe the suspect can provide the names of people higher in the chain.  If the arrested person accepts the offer, they become an informant and may work with the feds.  Therefore, if a federal informant provides your name as someone they buy drugs from, you may become the target of a federal drug investigation.

Drug Crimes Across State Lines

Another way that state drug crimes can become federal charges is if the crime occurred across state lines. Because each state has its own rules and regulations, it would be unfair for one state to prosecute a criminal for crimes he or she committed in two states. As a result, the judicial branch of the federal government steps in to take care of the case, which makes the charges federal offenses. 

The distribution of drugs in America typically stems from one central hub (e.g., the Twin Cities, Chicago, etc.) to other surrounding areas. Therefore, distributors will often cross state lines to get their product in the hands of their buyers. If you’re caught trafficking drugs across state lines, you will undoubtedly face federal charges for your crimes.

Federal Offenses Need Tried & Tested Attorneys

As you can see, being charged with a federal drug crime (as opposed to a state crime) may be entirely out of your hands. A federal drug charge will lead to much more serious penalties than state drug charges. Therefore, if you are charged with a federal drug offense for any reason, you want experienced and award-winning representation on your side!

At Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A., our Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers have over a century of collective experience and have been practicing in state and federal courts across Minnesota since 1983. Therefore, if you want tried and tested trial experience on your side, you want Caplan & Tamburino!

Call (612) 444-5020 now for a free consultation for your case!

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