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Why Am I Being Charged with a Federal Drug Crime?

Published: Sep 18, 2017 in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

Drug crime investigations and arrests take up a large portion of Texas law enforcement resources each year. The court system in Texas is bombarded with cases that result in drug convictions and the associated legal penalties that follow. The state imposes a range of penalties for drug crimes that include heavy fines, prison time, probation, and mandated community service. Some drug cases, however, are more likely to be charged at the federal level. Whether or not the drug offense for which you are arrested is charged as a state or federal drug crime depends on the nature and facts of the alleged crime itself.

If you’re facing a state or federal drug crime charge in Texas, contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett immediately. It’s important that you have a strong legal defense in place when you’re going up against seasoned prosecutors. Our drug attorneys can help protect your rights and defend your freedom.

Call us today at (713) 222-6767 to arrange a free, confidential case evaluation.

State vs. Federal Drug Crime Application

Many cases move through the court system in the State of Texas each year and are handled by state law. These cases are prosecuted according to Texas law, and the punishments are based on Texas statutes.

In other cases, however, the prosecution of drug offenses within the state proceeds according to federal law. There are a number of factors that help determine whether a drug offense committed in the State is treated as a state or federal drug crime. These include:

  • The type and quantity of drugs involved in the case
  • The alleged actions of the defendant
  • The defendant’s location during the commission of the offense

Therefore, it is based on the facts of the case that an offense involving drugs may be prosecuted as a state or federal crime. Very often, drug crimes of a less serious and non-violent nature are typically prosecuted at the state level. On the other hand, drug cases in the state of Texas that involve large quantities of highly dangerous drugs, as well as crimes that involve the distribution of narcotics, are often prosecuted at the federal level.

Specific Examples
A situation that is likely to involve a drug crime coming under the scope of federal prosecution is when the crime is committed on federal property. In such a case, the offender may be arrested by a federal agent and subsequently charged with a federal drug crime. Other circumstances involving federal prosecution include when drugs are sold in a school zone or to a person under the age of 21. Additionally, if you sell drugs to an undercover federal agent you may be charged with a federal drug crime.

Drug cases that involve large quantities of narcotics as well as highly serious activities such as drug manufacturing, drug distribution, drug trafficking, drug conspiracy, money laundering, and racketeering, may be subject to federal charges in addition to any state charges. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) often handles these large-scale felony drug crimes.

Quite often, only state law will apply if an individual is found with a very small quantity of drugs, such as less than a gram of heroin or some other narcotic. However, if a person is found with more than a kilogram of a controlled substance, or a mixture of substances containing heroin or some other highly deadly drug, the offense may be charged as a federal crime.


Regardless of whether a drug offense is charged as a state or federal drug crime, it should be taken very seriously. However, federal drug convictions often come with more severe penalties than those incurred at the state level. These penalties vary significantly depending on the nature of the offense and the conviction, but often involve a significant number of years in prison and massive fines.

Although drug crimes are penalized severely at the state and federal levels, federal drug cases that involve large-scale money laundering and drug trafficking are often punished with a greater degree of severity.

Federal Mandatory Minimums
The federal government has set up mandatory minimum sentences designed to target criminal organizations involved in the drug trade. These mandatory minimum sentences are usually five or 10 years in prison, and are not eligible for parole until completion. Judges are also not permitted to reduce these minimum sentences.

State penalties for drug crimes work somewhat differently than federal penalties. For instance, if you are charged with a minor drug offense in state of Texas and it’s your first offense, you may serve just a short time in jail, avoid jail time altogether, receive probation, and/or perform mandated community service.

Strong Legal Advocacy From an Experienced Federal Drug Crime Attorney

If you’re dealing with a federal or state drug charge, you need an experienced legal team on your side. At The Law Offices of Ned Barnett, we know how to fight back against the prosecution’s case with a high degree of skill to protect your future.

Call us now at (713) 222-6767 to set up a free consultation with a federal attorney.