What are the Differences Between Florida State and Federal Drug Charges?
Given Florida’s location, it’s not surprising that the government has devoted a lot of financial resources and manpower to fight illegal drugs that are being imported, distributed, and trafficked here. Many government agencies, including the FBI and DEA, may spend months or years investigating various criminal activities, including those related to illegal drug activity. If you have been charged with a federal drug offense in Florida, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale federal drug crimes attorney.
What Makes a Drug-Related Crime a Federal Case?
One of the quickest ways to see a drug case become a federal matter is when the crime was committed on federal lands. This means that if you are arrested with drugs at a national park in Florida, it would become a federal crime. The federal government also has jurisdiction over matters involving a federal agency, a U.S. constitution violation, or matters that involve multiple states.
Applying that to drug offenses, it means that you could be swept up in a big drug ring that was selling large quantities of drugs and the DEA was called in to investigate. Maybe they were sending drug purchases through the U.S. Postal Service, and the drugs are crossing state lines. That also makes a drug offense a federal case.
Sentencing Guidelines Differ
One of the biggest differences between federal and state drug charges is the potential outcome at sentencing. In most cases, a conviction for a federal drug crime will result in a harsher prison sentence. They are charged as felonies, and therefore have longer incarceration times attached. A charge for possession will likely be heard in a state court and may be charged as a misdemeanor, which carries a shorter jail sentence.
Another difference dealing with sentencing involves diversionary programs. Florida has some programs for first-time offenders that may allow you to attend a program rather than go to jail. There are both diversionary programs and drug courts in Broward County. It won’t matter that the state has these resources if you’re facing federal charges — the only outcome involves prison time.
How Drug Arrests Happen
One potential difference is how arrests take place with cases involving drug charges. Many arrests involve local police, but that doesn’t mean the case will automatically remain as a Florida state court case. Drug matters that only involve Florida could still be charged as a state or federal offense depending on the circumstances.
One of the main ways to see yourself facing federal charges for drug-related offenses is to be arrested by a federal officer. When a federal officer arrests you for drug crimes, it’s usually because they have already been investigating you, not because they just happened to catch you smoking marijuana on the street corner.
Contact a Federal Fort Lauderdale Drug Crimes Attorney
An arrest for a drug-related offense should be taken very seriously. You should not attempt to navigate the challenges of your case alone. Let an experienced Fort Lauderdale federal drug crimes attorney assist you. Contact Bruce L. Udolf, P.A. today to schedule an initial consultation.