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Federal Drug Crimes

While most drug crimes in Ohio are charged at the state level, almost any drug charge can be converted to a federal crime under the right circumstances. In fact, under the Controlled Substances Act (the law that governs federal drug laws), most state drug crimes are also considered federal crimes. If you are unlucky enough to face federal drug charges instead of state charges, you need to take the situation quite seriously, as the penalties can be much harsher.

What’s the Difference Between State and Federal Drug Charges?

Technically, drug federal charges are meant to focus on the movement of drugs across state borders and drug trafficking, while state charges are mean to focus on manufacture, distribution, and illegal possession within the state itself. This line, however, is often blurred. Some of the most common reasons that a drug crime will be charged at the federal, not state level include the following:

  • You are caught selling drugs are are suspected of being even peripherally part of a larger operation.
  • You are manufacturing or cutting drugs.
  • You move drugs across state lines (even if it was for personal use).
  • You commit the crime on federal property (such as in a national park).
  • You are arrested by a federal officer (such as a DEA agent).
  • You are caught using the help of an informant
  • There is special agreement between the state and federal prosecutors.

Federal Drug Crimes and Conspiracy Charges

One of the other most common ways that minor drug charges like possession or small sales can become a federal matter is through federal drug conspiracy charges. When law enforcement goes after a drug trafficking ring, they go after many minor players in the hopes that they can collect sufficient evidence against kingpins.

This means that anyone even vaguely associated with the drug conspiracy can be charged if there is any indication that that person knew of the drug operation. In these cases, it isn’t uncommon to find addicts guilty of possession or other very small crimes charged with trafficking and conspiracy in federal court unless they cooperate with the investigation. These federal drug charges can be for minor actions and even lead to trafficking charges for people in no way largely involved in trafficking operations.

Consequences of Federal Drug Crimes

Any criminal charges should be taken seriously, but especially those charged at a federal level. Federal drug crimes are subject to some of the harshest penalties in the nation and can carry mandatory minimum sentences, which cannot be mitigated no matter what. Almost everyone convicted of a federal drug crime is convicted of some form of “drug trafficking”, which usually is given at least a five- to ten-year mandatory prison sentence, even if your participation was minor.

The consequences of a federal drug conviction can include:

  • Years in federal prison
  • Significant fines
  • Loss of gun rights
  • Difficulty finding and maintaining employment
  • Loss of federal benefits
  • Ineligibility for some housing
  • Loss of driver’s license

…and many other penalties and inconveniences. Even conviction of a “small” federal drug crime can result in serious consequences.

What Can I Do If I’m Charged with a Federal Drug Crime?

If you are charged with a drug crime on the federal level, you should fight the charges with the best defense possible, as a conviction for a federal crime can follow you for the rest of your life. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, our Columbus drug lawyers have extensive experience representing clients on a wide range of drug charges at the federal level. We even have represented clients in major narcotic cases that include high-level complexities like undercover informants, wiretapping, and DEA and state-level drug operations.

Federal crimes require a specific skill set beyond what is required for local drug cases. With ten years of litigation experience under our belt, we have it. Call the Columbus drug lawyers at our firm today at calling or contact us via email us at Make sure your case gets the best possible outcome, by finding out how we may be able to help.

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Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP
580 E Rich St Fl 2
Columbus, OH 43215-5335


FAX: (614) 413-2886