It’s no secret that the United States has some harsh laws regulating the trafficking and sale of recreational drugs. In Ohio, state laws against drug trafficking can lead to felony charges and years of jail time.
Those penalties can be even harsher if you’re tried on the federal level instead of the state level. Federal drug trafficking laws tend to have stricter punishments and harsher sentences, and are usually more likely to result in a felony conviction.
If you are charged with a federal drug trafficking offense, only an attorney with experience defending people against federal drug charges will be able to provide the vigorous defense you need to protect your rights and preserve your future.
But under what circumstances will you be charged with a federal offense? And when will you need a federal drug trafficking lawyer? Criminal defense attorney Max Hiltner explains below.
Federal drug laws
The state of Ohio has a number of laws that enforce penalties for the possession or trafficking of controlled substances.
But on the federal level, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) classifies all illegal drugs into five “schedules,” in descending order of severity.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the drugs included in these categories:
- Schedule I: marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, LSD
- Schedule II: cocaine, morphine, methamphetamines
- Schedule III: anabolic steroids, barbiturates
- Schedule IV: valium, xanax, ambien
- Schedule V: over-the-counter cough medicines
The punishments that you receive for possessing, manufacturing, trafficking, or selling these controlled substances will depend on the schedule the drugs fall into, and the amount found in your possession.
If you have a previous history of drug offenses, this will also be factored into your sentence.
When is drug trafficking a federal crime vs. a state crime?
Federal drug laws are pretty comprehensive. But in Ohio, people are arrested for drug offenses all the time, and they’re often only charged on the state level. So when does drug trafficking become a federal offense?
There are a number of reasons why prosecutors may decide to charge you with a federal crime instead of a state-level one. For example:
- If you cross state or international borders while trafficking
- If the crime occurs on federal land or makes use of a federal service– for example, if you send a controlled substance through the US Postal Service
- If you traffick large amounts
- If you have a previous history of serious drug offenses
- If you are arrested by a federal officer, such as an FBI or DEA agent
It’s important to understand that federal, state, and local law enforcement often work together to make drug-related arrests, so the decision over whether to charge you at the federal or state level might be a collaborative one made by law enforcement and the prosecution.
Generally, if you are arrested for possession of a small amount of drugs, you will probably be charged on the state level– although this isn’t always the case.
On the other hand, if you are arrested for trafficking large amounts of drugs, or if you crossed state lines, you will most likely be charged on the federal level.
If you are charged with a federal drug trafficking offense, the most important thing you can do is reach out to a federal drug trafficking defense attorney as soon as possible.
Hire a federal drug trafficking attorney today
Drug convictions can be a serious, life-altering offense for many people. If you are charged with drug trafficking or a similar crime on the federal level, the best thing you can do to protect your future is to reach out to an attorney with experience defending clients against federal drug charges.
At Hiltner Trial Lawyers, we have the experience and knowledge of the law that can protect your rights and make sure you get the best possible outcome out of your drug trafficking case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and talk about your case.