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Difference between state and federal drug charges

| May 13, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

All states have laws to combat the selling and buying of illegal drugs because of the damage these drugs cause. These laws can also include provisions about trafficking legal drugs based on the circumstances and the type of drug. A person in Grand Rapids, Michigan, can get federal or state charges for drug trafficking, which differ.

Federal drug charges

Federal charges commonly apply to the distribution or buying of drugs between state borders. Distribution is the most common federal charge, which means that the defendant is accused of selling a controlled substance. Controlled substances are divided into Schedules I to V based on their risk of addiction.

While there are no specific guidelines for federal charges, an arrest on federal property, involvement of a federal agency or a large amount of drugs may result in federal charges. Penalties for a first-offense Schedule V trafficking charge could include a $100,000 fine and a maximum one-year prison term. Certain factors may enhance penalties, such as a previous felony drug crime, weapons or physical injury to another person.

State drug charges

Most state offenses involve simple possession and manufacturing, and state charges commonly come with less severe penalties. Defendants found guilty under a state charge get prosecuted by a state attorney and commonly serve sentences in a state prison.

In Michigan, a misdemeanor charge for a first offense commonly includes a penalty of a maximum one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A felony conviction could get the defendant more than one year in prison and the revocation of their voting rights. A state charge may convert to a federal charge depending on circumstances, especially for distributing between states.

A misdemeanor or felony drug charge often has lasting consequences, even after the defendant serves the sentence. The defendant needs a strong defense team to help them fight the charges or get them reduced.