Differences Between Federal & State Drug Crimes

One of the most common questions we get is whether a drug charge is a federal drug crime or a state drug crime. Many of these laws are the same and both the federal government and state governments have laws against the possession of, use of, manufacture of, and sale of controlled substances.

In some cases, it will depend on the details of your specific case whether or not it is a federal drug crime or a state drug crime. 

There are a few different layers to these charges, so you will have to understand a few different things before you can understand the differences between the different crimes.

You Need To Understand Drug Schedules

Within both state and federal laws, drugs are broken down into different schedules. There are five categories based on what the intended use of the drug is, its potential for abuse, and whether or not it causes addiction. 

Schedule I drugs are the “worst” because they have no medical use and are more likely to be abused and cause additions. As the schedule gets higher, it is more likely to be used in medical situations and less likely to cause addiction or abuse.

Here are some of the most common drugs broken into their schedules:

  • Schedule I: Heroin, LSD, Marijuana, Meth
  • Schedule II: Cocaine, Morphine, PCP
  • Schedule III: Anabolic Steroids, Hydrocodone, Codeine, and (some) Barbiturates
  • Schedule IV: Many Benzodiazepines, including Valium and Xanax
  • Schedule V: Over the counter cough medications with codeine

How Federal & State Laws Differ On Drug Crimes

The federal government and the state governments differ on how to take on the drug abuse problem in the United States and all the individual states. If you have been charged with a drug crime, you need to know what type of charge you are facing.

The main difference between federal and state laws is that federal drug crimes carry heavier consequences if you are convicted. You are likely to get a felony charge and face more jail time. While state charges can be considered felonies, they usually have lighter sentences.

Federal drug crimes usually include trafficking and crossing state lines with drugs whereas state drug charges are more likely to be for possession. However, you can be charged under state law for trafficking as well. It will usually depend on the amount found on your person.

Will Your Drug Charge Be A State or Federal Drug Charge?

When you were arrested for your drug charge, it was probably by a local police officer. Most people think that means they will be charged with a state crime, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Since drugs are illegal at both the state and federal level, you can be charged as either.

The easiest way to figure out what type of charge you are facing, you will need to look into your case. If you were arrested by a federal officer, it is most likely a federal charge. A lawyer can also help you to understand the charges against you, as it may seem like they purposely make it difficult to understand exactly what you are facing.

In general, a simple possession charge will not go higher than the state level. If you were found to be trafficking a large number of drugs, it will likely be a federal crime.

Contact A Nebraska Drug Lawyer As Soon As Possible

No matter what, a drug possession charge can have far-reaching impacts on your job, housing, child custody, and general reputation in a community. It can be much more challenging to get or keep a job if you have any kind of drug charge in your history. 

If you or someone that you love is facing the possibility of a drug charge in Nebraska, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Nebraska drug lawyer like Daniel Stockmann immediately. He will help you to sort out the facts of your case and offer assistance. For help as soon as possible, contact a Nebraska drug lawyer at 844-545-3022.