Kansas City Criminal Defense Lawyers
What Makes a Drug Crime a Federal Offense?

What Makes a Drug Crime a Federal Offense?

Every state has its own drug laws, but the federal government has its own established drug laws. With this in mind, it’s hard to determine if and when a drug crime will be tried at the state or federal level. In this blog post, Stein Law, LLC will examine what makes a drug crime a federal offense, and why the declaration should matter to the accused. 

When Is a Drug Charge a Federal Offense?

The first thing to note is that the severity of the offense is rarely the determining factor of whether the drug charge will go to federal court. The federal government can prosecute anything from simple possession to massive trafficking operations, so the severity of the crime doesn’t necessitate if the charge is a federal offense.

However, there are a few things that can label a drug charge as a federal crime.

Federal Informant Named the Suspect

If a federal informant names the suspect, then the accused’s crimes could be prosecuted at the federal level. Federal criminal charges follow a straightforward rule; if federal resources (including a federal informant) are used to find and arrest the suspect in question, the federal government has the right to prosecute the accused.

Federal Officer Made the Arrest

Following the same ideology of the federal resources rule, if a federal officer arrests a suspect, then the suspect can be prosecuted at the national level. The federal arrest doesn’t necessitate that the case will be prosecuted at the federal level, it only means that the federal government has the right to prosecute.

The Crime Occurred on Federal Property

When someone breaks the law on federal property, the crime is technically committed on federal lands, giving the federal government the right to prosecute. Therefore, if you smoke weed in a national park, you could face drug charges at the federal level.

The Crime Occurred Over State Lines or Internationally

When crimes occur over state lines, it calls into question which state should be allowed to prosecute. To stop states from fighting over the right to prosecute, the federal government can step in and claim the right to prosecute the offense because it is now a federal crime.

Various Other Reasons

A state may willingly (or willingly) relinquish the right to prosecute a suspect to the federal government for a variety of small reasons that have nothing to do with boundaries and the use of federal agents. For example, a state may lack enough resources to prosecute a sophisticated criminal offense. In this situation, the state may willingly hand over the case to the federal government to prosecute.

In other situations, a federal prosecutor may request jurisdiction for a case to crackdown on a specific problematic area, or because the case-in-question relates to another federal criminal case. Additionally, state and federal officials can sometimes agree to have a state relinquish jurisdiction for any reason should the two entities agree.

Charged with a Federal Drug Crime?

If you or a loved one is charged with a federal drug crime, Stein Law, LLC can help! We have decades of experience defending federally prosecuted suspects, and our hands-on approach may be exactly what your case needs.

Call (913) 583-0465 now for a free consultation concerning your federal drug case!


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