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Perlet & Shiner, P.A. West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer
  • WEST PALM BEACH CRIMINAL DEFENSE

Federal Drug Charges Vs. State Drug Charges

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When someone is charged with drug offenses, they are almost always violating both state and federal law by what they are doing – however, if the stakes are high enough, a drug case will be tried in federal court because the penalties are demonstrably stiffer. If you have been charged with a drug-related crime, it is important to be aware that federal court may be where your case lands. An experienced attorney on your side is a must.

Several Reasons For Removal

Florida’s history with drugs and drug sales has led to its legislature passing strict and severe sentencing guidelines for alleged drug users (and sellers). However, it is not uncommon for drug cases to be removed (transferred) to federal court for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it is simply warranted; for example, if you are caught with drugs on federal land, federal jurisdiction is automatic. This is also true if you are caught with drugs that crossed state lines. Other times, it may be a matter of wanting an offender to face a higher potential sentence than the state would provide.

Federal drug offenses are almost always charged as felonies (anything lesser will likely remain at state level), and as a result, mandatory minimum sentences will often result. Florida has some mandatory minimum sentences on the books, but federal sentencing guidelines are generally more stringent and uncompromising. This may be for good or ill, given that data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission seems to support moving away from mandatory minimum sentences in the future.

Federal Court Moves Fast

If you have been charged with a drug-related crime, you may be expecting to avail yourself of one of Florida’s diversion programs (for example, many counties have pretrial diversion programs for first-time offenders, including Palm Beach County). However, your case being removed to federal court ends this possibility. Federal court is much more uncompromising to most defendants; this is because the majority of cases that are tried there are given the money and manpower to build a fairly ironclad case against defendants who have committed serious crimes.

If your case does wind up in federal court for whichever reason, be advised that very often, it will be disposed of much more quickly than it would be in a Florida State. State courts are significantly overcrowded compared to the federal docket, with many also being underfunded. In addition, federal authorities sometimes have the option of working with the state authorities on the case – depending on the nature of the proceedings, sometimes both prosecutors may want to send a message.

Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney

Because drugs are seen as such a significant societal ill, cases involving possession or sale are taken very seriously, whether in state or federal court. However, sometimes federal court is simply the best venue for a drug case – at least from the prosecutor’s point of view. If you have been charged with a federal drug crime, the West Palm Beach drug crimes lawyers from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. are ready to try and assist you. Call our office today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.

Source:

ussc.gov/research/research-reports/mandatory-minimum-penalties-drug-offenses-federal-system

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