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What makes a drug charge become a federal offense?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2023 | Drug Charges

Few things are as frightening as the police confronting you with a criminal drug offense. However, your worries may increase if charges become federal.

Penalties for federal crimes tend to be more aggressive than state charges because federal statutes attempt to address concerns of national interest. Defendants should be aware of why a drug offense might escalate to a federal violation.

Movement across state lines

Anytime a crime involves activities that occur across state lines, the federal government may get involved. If you carry a controlled substance across state borders, you could face federal drug trafficking charges.

The penalties the court assesses depend on the type of substance, the amount of the drug and your prior record. The harshest sentences can be fines of up to $2 million or 40 years in federal prison.

The amount and type of the drug

Georgia’s drug schedules hew closely to the federal guidelines, although Georgia takes a less strict stance on marijuana use. If you have an amount of drugs that the government deems more than one person could use, you may face federal charges of trafficking or intent to distribute.

Concurrent offenses

If the police charge you with additional offenses in connection with the drug crime, such as money laundering or illegal firearm possession, the federal government may decide to take action. A link with a criminal enterprise, such as organized crime, can also invite federal participation in the case.

Even if your charges start as a state drug crime, the Drug Enforcement Agency may step in and take over the prosecution. In these instances, the potential punishment can become more severe.