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When Does a Drug Crime Become a Federal Offense?

When Does a Drug Crime Become a Federal Offense?

Most criminal offenses are considered state crimes, which means the state courts will handle such cases and a conviction will result in state criminal penalties, such as a county jail or state prison sentence. On the other hand, federal crimes are handled in federal court and a conviction will lead to a federal prison sentence. 

Although simple possession is considered a federal offense, drug distribution/sale, drug trafficking, and drug manufacturing may be charged at the federal level, depending on the circumstances of the case. 

The following are the common factors to help you determine if a drug charge is a federal crime: 

  • Federal law enforcement officials are involved in the case – Rather than dealing with county or state police departments, if you have been contacted or arrested by federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). However, even if your case was predominantly handled by local law enforcement officials, a federal informant could’ve tipped them off. 

  • The alleged drug crime crossed state lines or international borders – If you transport a large quantity of drugs from one state to another or manufacture drugs that are shipped to other states or countries, you may be charged with a federal drug trafficking or drug manufacturing offense. 

  • The alleged drug crime occurred on federal property – If you are caught selling drugs on government property, such as a federal office building, a federal courthouse, a federal prison, a national park, or even a military base, such property is considered under federal jurisdiction. 

  • The alleged drug crime involved the use of a mail carrier – Lastly, if you sell and transport drugs using the United States Postal Service (USPS) or any private carrier such as FedEx or UPS, then you could face federal criminal charges. If there is a search warrant, all federal and private carriers may inspect the packages in question. 

Unfortunately, federal drug charges are associated with harsh penalties. A conviction is punishable by mandatory minimum federal prison sentences of up to five (5) and even ten (10) years. 

If you are facing federal drug charges in Lexington or Columbia, SC, contact the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC today at (803) 359-3301 for a free initial consultation. Let our legal team protect your rights and freedom! 


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