When Are Drug Charges Prosecuted In Federal Court?

By Jonathan Rose PA | Federal Criminal Defense

When Are Drug Charges Prosecuted In Federal Court?

If you are accused of a drug offense, whether it involves possession, distribution, manufacturing or trafficking, you could be facing some very harsh penalties. Ever since a war was declared on drugs in the U.S., enforcement efforts and sentences have both become very aggressive.

This is true whether you are facing charges on the state level or the federal level, though federal drug charges are typically going to be harsher. With this in mind, it might be helpful for readers to understand why a case might be tried in federal court instead of state court when an arrest is made for a drug crime in Florida.

As noted in this FindLaw article, drug crimes that violate state laws will usually be tried in state court, since they are state offenses. However, if the following factors play a role, federal courts will typically have jurisdiction. These factors include:

  • An arrest made by a federal agent
  • Illegal activity carried out on federal land, like a national park
  • The alleged criminal activity crosses state lines
  • Defendant crosses state lines
  • Use of federal mail system

The severity of the crime can also be a determining factor. In other words, minor charges like possession of marijuana will more likely stay at the state level while the more serious offenses, like trafficking of heroin, usually result in federal charges.

Drug offenses are both state crimes and federal crimes, which means a person can wind up in the state courts or federal courts. If you are arrested for a drug crime, it can be crucial that you consult an attorney familiar with defending people in both environments, as there are significant differences between the state and federal court systems.

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