Drugs Crimes: How to Know If It’s Federal
Any drug offense can be prosecuted as a state or federal crime. There are even instances when both state and federal prosecutors file separate charges against the same defendant. It’s true that most drug arrests are made by the local police, but any drug case can end up in the federal system. The possession or sale of any controlled substance without a prescription is a crime at both the federal and state levels.
Federal Drug Prosecutions
There are a few sure ways to end up in the federal system for a drug offense. One way is to be arrested by a federal law enforcement officer. An arrest for possessing a small amount of marijuana while visiting a federal park, for example, or getting caught up in a Drug Enforcement Agency sting are sure ways to create a slew of legal challenges. Another unexpected source of federal drug charges is to be fingered by a federal informant. The feds are known for offering leniency in exchange for useful information.
You never know what’s going on behind the scenes. Often times, local drug cases are handed over to federal prosecutors without warning. Unfortunately, the decision to place a local drug case under federal control cannot be appealed. Federal drug laws and sentencing guidelines are notoriously severe. Mandatory minimum sentences are stiff and parole has virtually been eliminated.
Federal Drug Penalties
The number of offenders sentenced to federal prison has dramatically increased in recent decades. More than 60 percent of all federal prisoners were incarcerated for violating federal drug laws. Federal mandatory minimum drug sentencing guidelines were enacted in 1986. The trend was also exacerbated by the sudden rise of methamphetamine as the drug of choice in the major urban areas of the United States.
The federal Controlled Substances Act explicitly outlaws the following drug related activities:
- Drug Trafficking – manufacturing or distributing illicit drugs with intent to distribute drugs
- Manufacturing – operating a facility to manufacture, distribute or use illicit drugs or otherwise endanger human life
- Criminal Enterprises – the cooperation of five or more other persons in a drug trafficking operation
- Conspiracy – attempting to conspire with others to manufacture, distribute or import illicit drugs
- Protected Location Offenses – distributing drugs to individuals under the age of 21 or in the vicinity of a school or playground
- Employment – employing individuals under the age of 18 to promote illicit drug use
- Simple Possession – possession of a controlled substance without intent to distribute or a valid prescription
Federal Drug Offenses
It is a federal offense to invest drug profits in a commercial enterprise or engage in the illegal importation of a controlled substance. Federal drug offenses may also include violations of federal tax laws and regulations. Another source of federal drug prosecutions is the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations ACT.