When is a drug crime a federal crime? It’s an important distinction. Federal drug crimes often lead to harsher sentences and penalties for those convicted, so it’s important to know what can turn a drug crime into a federal crime.
The first and perhaps the simplest way to land a federal drug crime charge is to be arrested by a federal officer. Oftentimes (especially in minor drug crimes like possession), people caught in drug crimes are caught by local police officers. But when someone is busted by the DEA, for example, or even arrested for something like smoking pot in a national park, those crimes are automatically federal.
If you are caught by a local officer, it is still possible for that charge to become federal. Oftentimes, local law enforcement works in tandem with federal agencies to enforce drug laws. When they catch someone, these charges often become federal.
Another way to be charged with federal drug crimes is if someone informs on you.
I’m Charged with a Federal Drug Crime. Is It Too Late for Me?
Federal drug crimes have harsh penalties and no real possibility for parole. This means that not only will you face lengthy prison time, but you will not be eligible for early release. Probation is a possibility, but is very limited in the federal system.
All of these above factors show the need for those accused of federal drug crimes to act quickly. The first phone call the accused should make is to a criminal defense attorney familiar with the process of handling federal crimes.