Drug offenses are unique in that both state and federal prosecutors can bring charges against a defendant. A good rule of thumb is that the Department of Justice tends to prosecute bigger cases such as trafficking or manufacturing ones. State prosecutors often prosecute drug crimes such as possession and distribution ones. Where the offense occurred can also dictate whether state or federal prosecutors prosecute a case.
There are differences between each court system and how they treat drug crimes that you may benefit from learning when you’re facing charges.
What falls under the umbrella of drug crimes?
Both state and federal laws prohibit individuals from possessing controlled substances, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. Marijuana is more complicated because the possession of any amount of marijuana is illegal on a federal level even thot’s lawful for individuals to possess limited amounts of the drug for recreational use here in Connecticut.
Virtually every state’s laws prohibit individuals from possessing equipment used to prepare, inhale, conceal or inject drugs. Selling, importing or exporting drug-related paraphernalia, including pipes, rolling paper or syringes, may violate state drug paraphernalia statutes.
The type and amount of the drug involved often dictate what drug charges a prosecutor files against a defendant. They generally consult drug schedules to better understand their potential for abuse before deciding what charges to pursue.
What penalties are associated with different drug offenses?
State drug sentences can last just as long as federal ones. Data published by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) shows that penalties that anyone convicted of a distribution offense may face between three years and life in prison. Those defendants convicted of trafficking may be subject to a period of incarceration from five years to life. Fines that the federal government levies in either of these cases can reach as high as $250,000.
Both federal and Connecticut law enforcement agencies invest significant resources in identifying individuals suspected of drug offenses as they believe that it protects everyone’s public health and deters other crimes. You’re likely facing some serious penalties if a Hartford judge or jury convicts you on such charges. When your future is hanging in the balance, speak to an experienced attorney right away.