What’s the difference between state and federal drug charges? Does it matter which you are charged with in Florida? Considering that you are looking at different penalties, a different court, and a different prison system, yes, it does matter. We explain why you might be facing federal charges here.
Why Charges May Be Federal
Because drug possession and distribution are illegal at both a state and federal level, you could face charges from either (or both) systems. Whether you are charged with a state or federal crime will depend on the following:
- Jurisdiction. If you are arrested for drugs on federal land—such as in a national park—federal officers will have jurisdiction over your case.
- Arresting officer. If you are arrested anywhere by a federal officer—for example, in a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) bust—you automatically face federal charges.
- How you were caught. If you were caught because someone in federal custody informed on you in an attempt to reduce his or her sentence, you will face federal charges.
- A deal between state and federal authorities. Sometimes, state and federal prosecutors will make a deal to move your case from one court to the other. If you were arrested by state authorities and face serious charges, they may move you to the federal system.
- Crossing state lines. If you were arrested for dealing or possessing drugs in multiple states, or for traveling from one state to the other with drugs in your possession, your case may be handled by federal authorities to avoid state jurisdiction issues.
What’s the Difference?
In general, federal charges carry stricter sentences and higher fines. If you are convicted of a federal drug crime, it is very likely that you will face time in prison. It is much harder to appeal a conviction in federal court and federal prisons do not have a parole program—making federal charges much more serious than state charges.
If you are charged with a federal drug charge, you need an attorney with federal court experience. At Clifton Law Office, we are prepared to defend your drug charges in both state and federal courts. Contact us as soon as possible after your arrest. We are committed to defending your rights.