When you are arrested for a drug crime in Ohio, it seems logical that you would be tried and sentenced for that crime in Ohio courts. As many defendants discover, however, that’s not always true. Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, most drug crimes are made federal crimes—even if they are also crimes under Ohio law.
So what determines whether or not your drug crime is tried as an Ohio crime or as a federal drug crime? The following are the five most common ways drug charges become federal crimes.
- You are arrested by a federal agent or on federal property. Perhaps the most straightforward way that drug charges become federal crimes, arrests involving federal agents or on federal land will lead to charges handed down in federal courts. It’s important to note that this can be even rather minor crimes. For example, smoking marijuana in a state park in Colorado (where it would otherwise be legal) could lead to federal possession charges.
- You are arrested as a part of a major federal sting or targeted as part of a federal drug conspiracy case. Ohio law enforcement sometimes partners up with federal agencies like the FBI or DEA in order to carry out large sting investigations, such as targeting a certain cartel or all drug users and dealers in a certain area. If you are arrested during one of these operations, you can face federal charges, even if your crime was minor or your involvement was minimal. This is especially true if you are arrested in conjunction with a drug conspiracy. Federal drug conspiracy charges don’t even technically require you to break the law. Even carrying out otherwise legal acts, such as buying cell phones, could lead to federal drug charges if they furthered a large criminal operation.
- You moved drugs across state lines. Federal courts almost always have jurisdiction in cases where the crime was carried out in multiple states or involved interstate commerce. If you are accused of trafficking drugs across state lines, you can be tried in federal court, no matter the amount.
- You were named by an informant. Federal sentencing guidelines are quite harsh. That’s why many people accused of federal drug crimes choose to become federal informants in order to get some leniency. If you are named by an informant in a federal investigation or drug conspiracy case, you automatically face federal charges as well.
- You had bad luck. In reality, there are many ways that you can end up in federal court facing drug charges. Maybe your arrest involved DEA resources, and federal agents requested jurisdiction. Maybe there was a special deal between state and federal prosecutors. Maybe you simply were swept up in a larger federal push to crack down on drugs in an area. Regardless, this simple bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time could lead to you facing much harsher minimum sentences under federal sentencing guidelines if convicted.
It’s always a serious situation when you’ve been charged with a drug crime, but that is even more true if you’re facing federal drug charges. The sentences handed down for federal drug crimes are often much harsher than what you’d face in Ohio courts.
That’s why you need to make sure your federal drug crime lawyers have the experience and dedication to give your case the best chance for an optimal outcome. Call the Columbus federal drug crime lawyers at Luftman, Heck, and Associates at today to set up a free consultation on your drug case. We will aggressively represent your best interests and won’t give up until you’ve gotten the best possible resolution.