Is Drug Trafficking a Federal Crime?

 Posted on November 29, 2019 in Drug Crimes

Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerIt was at the end of October when an Illinois woman was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after being convicted of drug trafficking. The woman was charged with selling drugs through the mail to a man in South Dakota, who later died after using the heroin he had purchased from her. The story is interesting, as many people know that drug trafficking charges are usually tried at the state level. So, what makes drug trafficking a federal crime?

When Trafficking Charges Become Federal

It is true that much of the time, those facing drug trafficking charges will be prosecuted by their own state. If convicted, they will then likely be sentenced to a number of years in state prison. However, there are certain circumstances that could change state trafficking charges to federal charges. These include:

  • When the quantity of drugs is exceptionally large
  • The arresting officer works for a federal agency
  • The case involves a large amount of money or money laundering
  • The case involves Medicare or Medicaid fraud
  • The case involves illegal prescription schemes within the same state
  • Large amounts of drugs are moved from one jurisdiction to another
  • The case involves a death or deaths outside of the state’s jurisdiction

Given that the woman lived in Illinois and the man that died lived in South Dakota, the last two of these circumstances are likely what caused the woman’s charged to become federal.

The Difference Between State and Federal Charges

It may not seem significant at first if the charges are considered state or federal, but it is. Federal charges typically have much longer and much harsher sentences than state charges for those convicted. Regarding drug trafficking, the penalties will vary depending on the substance in question, the amount of the substance, if there were aggravating factors, and if the defendant has any prior offenses.

For heroin, which is considered a Schedule I drug, a first offense involving up to 100 grams has a minimum mandatory sentence of up to 20 years and a maximum sentence of up to 30 years. The sentences increase as the quantities become larger and the defendant has prior offenses. Cocaine, crack, and meth all have similar sentences, although the amounts associated with those sentences vary.

Along with longer jail sentences, federal drug trafficking charges also typically have much higher fines than charges at the state level. For example, trafficking anywhere between 50 to 99 grams of marijuana carries a federal sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $1 million.

Facing Federal Drug Charges? Call Our Illinois Federal Defense Lawyer

Federal drug charges are very serious and carry very harsh consequences. To avoid these, speak to our skilled Chicago criminal defense attorney today. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, our attorney has the necessary experience to build you a solid defense and give you the best chance of beating the charges. If you have been charged, call us at 312-629-0669 or contact us online for your free consultation so we can get started reviewing your case.


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