Being charged with a drug crime comes with major potential penalties, including jail or prison time. The penalties may be higher if you are charged with a federal drug crime.
A drug charge becomes a federal offense if the crime occurs while crossing state lines. If you have crossed state lines with drugs on you, you could be charged with federal drug trafficking.
Another reason your drug charge could be classified as a federal offense is if the offense was investigated by a federal agency, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The DEA typically investigates people they believe are growing, distributing or manufacturing drugs or people who are transporting drugs between states or bringing drugs in from other countries.
Will I do prison time if it’s a federal offense?
Your biggest concern when facing a drug charge may be the possibility of prison time. Federal drug charges often come with mandatory minimum prison sentences.
This means that a judge must sentence you to at least a minimum amount of time in prison. The mandatory minimum depends on various factors.
One of these factors is the type of drug you were found with. Drugs are classified according to a national drug schedule, with higher-risk drugs being classified as Schedule 1 drugs and lower-risk drugs being classified as schedule 2-5 drugs.
For example, heroin is a Schedule 1 drug because it has no accepted medical use and there is a high risk of abuse, while the cough syrup Robitussin is a Schedule 5 drug because it is considered low risk there are accepted medical uses.
Other factors that could impact a mandatory minimum sentence include any prior criminal history or if the drug crime resulted in injury or death.
What to do if you are facing federal drug charges
Mandatory minimums mean you must act fast if you are charged with a federal drug offense. An evaluation of your situation and exploration of possible defenses is necessary.