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What to know when facing federal drug charges

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Drug Charges

Federal drug cases can be complex. They differ in a few ways from state charges.

Understanding the process can make it easier for a person to move forward after facing such charges.


Federal drug charge prosecution occurs in federal court. Federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, will bring the charges. At the state level, state courts prosecute. The charges come from state or local law enforcement agencies.


Federal drug cases often involve more severe penalties. Federal sentencing guidelines for drug offenses can be strict and may result in longer prison sentences and higher fines.


Regardless of whether the charges are federal or state, individuals have certain rights under the Constitution. These include the right to remain silent, the right to legal representation and the right to a fair trial.

Rights after a conviction, though, may vary. Despite conviction at the federal level, the rights mainly depend on state law and the type of criminal charge. Felony charges can bring additional restrictions. In Georgia, anyone with a felony conviction loses the right to vote until they complete their sentence in full.

Travel may also have restrictions until the individual completes his or her sentence. Other countries may have rules that would prevent travel for felons. Typically, during prosecution, individuals must surrender their passports, which means they can no longer travel outside the U.S. The court may also place other restrictions on leaving their state of residence.

One area of distinction when it comes to rights lost with a federal drug charge is when it comes to firearms. Federal law will strip individuals of the right to own or possess a firearm when they have a felon conviction. This ban remains in place unless individuals take certain steps to restore this right.

Federal drug cases present unique challenges and consequences. As with any legal situation, it is important for individuals to know their rights and understand what to expect.