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Have You Been Charged With Federal Drug Offenses In Florida?
Drug offenses are taken very seriously in Florida, due to the state’s past history and its international borders that see a lot of trafficking. Both state and federal law enforcement routinely file charges against those who are stopped with illegal substances, but the average person tends to wrongly think that federal charges will be of the same severity as state charges, and carry the same consequences. This is generally not the case, as the two have different sentencing guidelines.
Federal Law vs State Law
There are several different reasons why law enforcement may choose to have someone charged with federal drug crimes as opposed to state crimes. The two most common are when a “continuing criminal enterprise” exists – that is, when it can be shown that many different drug operations have been run out of the same place, by the same people – and when an alleged drug offense involves travel over state lines (because of the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause, federal law governs the ability to regulate the flow of illegal drugs).
That said, there is a bit of happenstance involved as to whether you will be charged with a drug offense under state or federal law – too often, it may simply happen because a federal officer arrests you instead of a Florida policeman. Even if you have a very small amount of an illegal substance in your possession, you may find yourself charged under federal law, and if this does happen, it is crucial that you be aware how high the stakes are. Florida treats even simple drug possession very seriously, but federal law is even stricter.
Serious Mandatory Minimum Sentences
If you have been charged with a federal drug offense, the factor that you should perhaps be most aware of is that federal law requires mandatory minimum sentences for a wider range of offenses than Florida law, and often those minimums will be of longer duration (though this may not be the case in Florida specifically, as the state is notorious for some of the toughest drug laws in the United States). Because the U.S. Constitution specifically places federal law over state law, this also means that state laws regulating drugs – specifically marijuana – are not sufficient defense against federal charges.
Regardless of whether you have been charged under federal or state law, it is important that you understand the nature of the charges against you. Perhaps the most important thing to be aware of in either the Florida or the federal system is that you may be charged with drug trafficking even if you had no intent to sell or distribute a drug – if you are stopped with enough of a certain drug, law enforcement simply assumes that you have that intent and charges accordingly.
Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney
Being charged with a drug offense is never something to take lightly, but federal charges can be even more serious. If you have been charged with a federal drug crime, a West Palm Beach drug offenses attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help ensure you get your day in court. Contact our office today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.