When Are Drug Charges a Federal Offense?

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal justice system, Illinois criminal lawyer,Both Illinois and the federal government have laws prohibiting drug possession, distribution, and manufacture. Thus, any of these activities could be prosecuted by the state or federal authorities.

If you have been charged with a drug crime, how is it decided if you will be tried in state or federal court? Every case is different, but there are a variety of ways your case could end up in the federal system.

There are a variety of factors that could determine the state or federal issue:

  • Who made the arrest? Probably the most common way a drug case ends up in federal court is when the arresting officer is a federal agent. Many times this happens when local police work with federal officers on a sting operation. This could also happen when the alleged crime is said to have taken place on federal lands (such as a national park).
  • An informant named you. If someone being investigated or prosecuted by the federal government named you as someone involved in criminal activity so that they would be granted leniency, then you would also be prosecuted by the federal government.
  • Severity of the offense. Typically, drug possession charges and small-scale distribution charges will be handled in the state system while manufacture and large-scale drug operations will be prosecuted federally.
  • If there is any question about which jurisdiction will charge and prosecute someone accused of a drug crime, typically, the state and federal prosecutors will discuss the case and determine which entity is best suited to handle the case.

Why Does State or Federal Jurisdiction Matter?

If you are charged by the federal government for a drug crime, you generally will serve more jail time. This happens for several reasons. First, there are high mandatory minimums for federal prison sentences. Also, in the federal system, there is no parole program. Finally, federal probation does exist, however, it is not as frequently granted.

In addition, federal drug charges can open you up to other federal charges such as tax fraud or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) violations, which result in additional jail time.

Contact a Chicago, IL Federal Drug Charge Lawyer

Federal drug charges are extremely serious. The amount of prison time at stake means that you should hire an attorney who has a thorough knowledge of federal drug charges. Our experienced Chicago, IL drug offense attorney can be reached at 312-629-0669.

 

Sources:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2001/04/what_makes_a_drug_crime_a_federal_offense.html

https://www.aclu.org/blog/mass-incarceration/reality-federal-drug-sentencing

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