What Makes a Florida Drug Crime a Federal Offense?
While many drug crimes are charged at the state level, some are also charged at the federal level. This can result in even bigger fines and longer prison sentences. Possession and intent to distribute might be prosecuted at the state level, unless you cross state lines. There are other factors that influence whether a drug crime is prosecuted at the state or federal level.
If you’re facing federal drug charges in South Florida, you need an experienced Fort Lauderdale federal drug crimes attorney who can represent you. Drug charges are serious, so you want to prepare the best defense possible.
Federal Vs. State Laws
Federal drug laws primarily focus on the movement of drugs between states, like drug trafficking. The quantity, location, and type of drugs also can influence whether a case is prosecuted by a Florida state court or the federal court. State courts are primarily concerned with possession and drug manufacturing.
However, if you cross state lines with a significant amount of a drug, then you might be facing a drug trafficking charge. Other actions that can lead to federal drug charges include selling drugs on government land or using the United States Post Office to sell and transport narcotics.
Something else to keep in mind — although many states have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, it is still illegal under federal law.
A number of federal laws have required minimum prison sentences. These federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws apply to serious drug offenses. This means that if you are convicted of a federal drug crime, you could be spending a significant amount of time behind bars.
Controlled Substances Act
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) consolidated all prior federal drug laws into a single statute. This is the law that regulates the manufacturing and distribution of various illegal substances. These include depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and narcotics.
These drugs are classified into one of five levels, called schedules. Your penalties will vary based on which schedule the drug falls into, the quantity that was involved, and your prior criminal history. The five schedules are:
- Schedule I — Some schedule I drugs include LSD, ecstasy, marijuana, and heroin;
- Schedule II — Some schedule II drugs include morphine, PCP, and cocaine;
- Schedule III — Some schedule III drugs include Vicodin, steroids, and Marinol;
- Schedule IV — Some schedule IV drugs include Valium, Ambien, and Xanax; and
- Schedule V — Some schedule V drugs include cough suppressants and Lyrica.
How Will You Know Whether It’s a Federal or State Drug Offense?
When you are arrested, you may be arrested by a local police officer. That doesn’t mean it’s automatically a state drug charge. You could be arrested by a local officer for a federal drug charge as well. If you are arrested by a federal officer, then you know right away your case will be handled at the federal level. Either way, you need to contact a Florida drug crimes attorney who can help you understand the charges you are facing.
Contact a Florida Federal Drug Crimes Attorney
If you need assistance with a criminal drug offense, contact Bruce L. Udolf, P.A. today to schedule an initial consultation. Let our team of criminal defense attorneys help prepare the strongest defense possible.