Can I Face Federal Drug Trafficking Charges in Addition To State Charges?
Almost 30% of all cases tried at the federal level are drug trafficking cases. The federal government is tough on drug traffickers and has been fighting the War on Drugs for many years. If you traffic drugs across state lines or distribute a significant amount of a controlled substance within Oklahoma, you risk being charged with a federal crime of drug trafficking.
State and federal laws on drug trafficking vary and there are harsher penalties at the federal level. However, both the state of Oklahoma and the federal government can charge you for the same crime of drug trafficking, and you could be subject to double charges for drug trafficking. The consequences of this can include more legal costs, double the penalties, and the stress of dealing with two separate legal systems.
If you are facing drug trafficking charges at the federal level, it is vital you contact a drug crimes attorney immediately. Federal drug crimes are among the most serious crimes in the country, and you need a powerful defense strategy to stand a chance.
Cannon & Associates
The criminal defense attorneys at Cannon & Associates have what it takes to defend against both state and federal drug trafficking charges. We have a team of highly skilled Fierce Advocates that will do everything in their power to defend your case. Our lawyers will work tirelessly to build a defense based on your circumstances, fight to ensure that you are not charged at both the state and federal levels, and work to get your case dismissed.
Experience matters when dealing with drug trafficking charges. The lawyers at Cannon & Associates have been ranked among the top criminal defense attorneys in Oklahoma and have consistently high AVVO ratings. Our law firm cares about protecting your future and we are dedicated to fighting on your behalf.
Call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation at 405-591-3935.
Federal Drug Crimes
The Controlled Substances Act regulates and controls the crime of drug trafficking under federal law. This Act regulates controlled substances and categorizes them into schedules based on their harmfulness. Higher penalty controlled substances lead to more serious penalties. Schedule I, which is the highest drug schedule, contains drugs such as marijuana, heroin, and methaqualone.
The crime of drug trafficking is contained under 21 U.S.C. § 841 of the Act, where it is made illegal to “manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance”. To prove the crime of drug trafficking under federal law, the prosecutor must prove that the accused knowingly and intentionally manufactured or distributed a controlled substance.
A person can also be convicted of drug trafficking if they were in possession of a large quantity of drugs with an intent to distribute these drugs. A federal agent or prosecutor can prove this intention to distribute if you had drug paraphernalia, large amounts of money, or other evidence to prove your intent to traffic the drugs. Marijuana possession in large quantities could also lead to a serious drug trafficking charge if the prosecutor can prove an intent to distribute.
State vs. Federal Drug Trafficking Charges
State and federal crimes operate under two separate legal systems. State drug crimes are governed and prosecuted by Oklahoma authorities, including state law enforcement officers, state prosecutors, and state government. The federal government prosecutes and governs federal drug crimes, including federal agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), federal prosecutors, and federal courts.
The state of Oklahoma handles most drug crimes that happen within state lines. However, there are certain circumstances that lead to federal charges instead of state drug trafficking charges.
Crimes Crossing State Lines
The federal government deals with all crimes that occur across state lines. When a person decides to cross state lines with a large quantity of a controlled substance, they can face a federal drug trafficking charge. Drug possession across state lines with an intent to distribute can also amount to a federal drug trafficking charge.
Crimes Happening on National Land
Drug crimes that happen on national lands or federal property, such as military reservations, national parks, wildlife reserves, and public domain land, will be charged as federal drug crimes. The cultivation of marijuana often happens on public land and is charged by the federal government.
Investigated by a Federal Agency
Crimes that are investigated by a federal agency are automatically charged under federal law. The federal agency responsible for dealing with illegal drug trafficking is the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
The DEA focuses mainly on those who manufacture, grow, or distribute large quantities of drugs. They have significant resources for conducting investigations and usually gather a lot of evidence against those that they arrest.
Can I Face Federal Drug Trafficking Charges in Addition To State Charges?
Because the federal government is a separate legal entity to state governments, a person can face drug trafficking charges at both state and federal levels. In most cases, the state will cooperate with federal agencies rather than bring separate charges. However, state prosecutors may bring drug trafficking charges against you for the same crime that you are charged with under federal law.
When a case is sufficiently serious and involves a significant amount of drugs or a long investigation, the state may also bring charges against you. If you were not convicted under federal law or if you got your charges reduced, the state of Oklahoma could decide to bring state charges against you. They will conduct their own investigation and bring the charges to a state court.
Suppose you have already been convicted of a drug trafficking charge or drug possession crime under state law. In that case, the federal government may also legally bring separate charges against you for the crime. Despite laws banning double jeopardy, the Supreme Court takes a separate view on both federal and state charges being brought for the same crime. This is because the two governments are seen as “dual sovereigns”.
Penalties For Federal Drug Trafficking
The penalties for federal drug trafficking charges are extreme and a lot more serious than state penalties. The federal government investigates and prosecutes federal crimes, so the crimes must be sufficiently serious to warrant a federal investigation. Drug trafficking charges that are brought at the federal level could lead to the following penalties:
- Mandatory minimum sentence – Most federal drug trafficking charges have a mandatory minimum sentence of five to ten years in federal prison. This means that you must spend time in prison if you are convicted. The minimum sentencing can be increased if you have prior drug offense convictions or there were aggravating factors.
- Fines – The fines for federal drug trafficking crimes are significantly higher than for state drug crimes. A conviction for federal drug trafficking could lead to fines from $250,000 to $20 million.
If you are facing both state and federal charges for drug trafficking, you risk facing a mandatory minimum sentence on top of state penalties, which could include substantial fines and further jail time in State prison.
Consequences of a Conviction Under Federal Law
The criminal consequences of a federal drug crime conviction are severe. Besides the severe criminal penalties, those convicted must deal with the added consequences of a federal conviction. If you are convicted of federal drug trafficking charges, you risk losing your federal benefits for up to five years after the conviction. If you are convicted for a second time, you can lose these benefits for up to ten years.
The type of benefits you can lose from a federal conviction include government contracts, federal student loans, educational grants, other grant-based funding, and government licenses. On top of this, you will lose access to public housing and do not get the same protection under the Fair Housing Act for private landlords.
Convictions for federal offenses can create a huge stigma. Those with a conviction are extremely limited in their employment options and are prohibited from applying for certain sectors. Unfortunately, many institutions are less trusting of those with a federal drug crimes conviction, and you will face difficulties getting a loan from a bank or getting accepted to third-level education.
What If I’ve Been Charged With State and Federal Drug Offenses?
When you are charged with a federal or state crime, you expect to go through the criminal process just once. If you are acquitted of a drug trafficking charge under state laws and then receive federal charges, or vice versa, it can be extremely stressful. Double jeopardy laws do not apply to drug charges with state and federal governments, so you cannot use this as a defense strategy if subsequent federal or state charges are brought against you.
The only way to protect yourself if facing dual charges for drug trafficking in Oklahoma is to hire an experienced attorney and build a strong defense strategy. The federal and state criminal legal systems are significantly different, and we recommend hiring an attorney with knowledge of both systems. You will need to refute the evidence brought against you and fight against the theory of the prosecution.
A lawyer will build a defense strategy based on the facts and circumstances of your case. They may argue that you did not knowingly and intentionally distribute the drugs, did not have requisite intent, were the subject of an illegal search, or it was simple possession with no intent to distribute.
Generally speaking, defending against a federal offense is much more difficult than against state drug crimes. However, you will need the backing of a highly experienced and uniquely skilled lawyer to get you off from both charges. The criminal defense attorneys at Cannon & Associates have the knowledge and experience necessary to help get your charges dismissed at both the federal and state level.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney at Cannon & Associates Today!
Drug trafficking is a serious crime under both state and federal laws. The consequences of a drug trafficking conviction could include lengthy prison terms, mandatory sentencing, huge fines, and a permanent criminal record. If you are charged with the same crime twice under federal and state laws, you will face added consequences and be met with even more costs.
The only way to protect yourself against dual charges for drug trafficking is by hiring an experienced defense attorney. At Cannon & Associates, we can help prevent charges from being brought against you at both state and federal levels. Our lawyers are highly skilled at negotiation and will negotiate with both state and federal authorities to prevent dual charges.
With your drug trafficking case, we will use our experience and skills to build a powerful defense strategy on your behalf and negotiate to get the charges dropped substantially. Our Fierce Advocates care about protecting your future, and we will do everything in our power to ensure a favorable outcome in your case.Call our law firm today for a free consultation at 405-591-3935.
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