Drug charges are a serious problem that can disrupt your life significantly. This is true if you are facing charges at the state level, but it is especially true if you have been accused of a federal-level crime. You might be wondering what differentiates the two and why a drug charge might be tried at the federal level. There are several criteria that determine whether a crime is a federal offense or not.
The following are a few of the criteria. Whether your charges are at the state or federal level, it is important to understand the implications of the accusation and familiarize yourself with the legal options you have available.
Arrest by a federal agent
If a federal agent happens to arrest you — one in the employ of the DEA, for example — your charges will automatically be at the federal level. This might be the case if you are in a sting operation or if your arrest takes place outside of a specific state jurisdiction. The level of the arresting agent will be integral in determining what kind of charges you face.
Somebody else informed on you
Often times, charges might also be leveled as a federal offense if they are the result of information provided by another suspect. If law enforcement arrests a person for a drug crime, it is not uncommon that they offer that person a plea bargain to lessen the charges in return for information on co-conspirators.
Drug charges cover interstate crimes
According to the DEA, interstate drug cases are typically tried as trafficking offenses, and the penalties are steep. Even if you had no intention of selling or distributing a substance, traveling with it across state lines could easily get charges upgraded from the state to the federal level. This could even be true if you are handling a substance — marijuana, for example — that is legal in one state but not another.