Federal drug crimes v. state drug crimes

Federal drug crimes v. state drug crimes

Most drug arrests in New York State are carried out by local law enforcement, but under certain circumstances, a drug crime can become a federal matter. These circumstances include:

  • The accused person had a large enough quantity of drugs in their possession to be charged with trafficking
  • A federal officer makes the arrest
  • The offense takes place on federal property, such as a courthouse or national park
  • The involvement of weapons

The U.S. government has its own set of laws covering controlled substances, with crimes such as trafficking, distribution, and even possession being investigated and prosecuted by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the FBI. If convicted, one typically faces harsher penalties than one would in the state court system.

Drug trafficking

Federal drug trafficking charges are applied whenever someone is accused of trafficking activity that either crosses state lines or occurs in more than one state. When Schedule I or Schedule II drugs are involved, a conviction can send you to a federal prison for anywhere from five years to life, depending on the quantity in your possession at the time of arrest. These drugs, which include cocaine, crack, LSD and methamphetamine, have a high potential for addiction and abuse, so convicted traffickers are heavily penalized.

Federal drug penalties

In federal court, drug offenses typically have mandatory minimum sentences. This means that unlike in a state court, a judge does not have the discretion to impose a lower sentence, even if extenuating or mitigating circumstances apply.  If someone was arrested and was convicted of possessing 100 grams or more of heroin, then that person may face at least five years incarceration, even if twas their first offense.

There is also no real parole system in the federal courts. Probation is technically available, but the chances of receiving it is practically nil. This means that the first offender sentenced to five years can expect to serve the full term.

What to do if charged with a federal drug crime

If you have been arrested for a federal drug crime or believe that you are about to be, then contact an experienced New York federal drug crime attorney right away. Government prosecutors are legendary for their tenacity and ruthlessness when it comes to drug offenses, and an attorney with a solid background in federal defenses is your best chance at a positive outcome.

Your lawyer may attempt to prove that the evidence against you is insufficient or inadmissible, question the results of a drug test, or look for evidence of an illegal search and seizure. While no case has a guaranteed outcome, expert legal support is a must-have when you are facing criminal charges at the federal level. Julie Rendelman has more than 20 years of experience both as a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. If you have been charged with either a federal or state crime in New York City, then call 212-951-1232 to discuss your options in a free consultation. Visit www.RendelmanLaw.com to learn more.