When Can Drug Crime Result in Federal Crime?

Drug crimes can be as minor as having drugs for personal use or as serious as making and selling them. Some people may not realize that drug laws in Texas and at the national level are quite strict.

In Texas, having certain drugs can lead to felony charges, and federal drug offenses come with mandatory minimum sentences, which means that federal charges can be harsher than state charges. So, when do drug conspiracy cases become federal crimes in Texas? We will examine the factors that affect this in our blog.

State and Federal Drug Crime

In all states, including Texas, it’s a serious crime to possess, manufacture, or sell illegal drugs. Typically, people face less severe state-level charges for minor drug offenses. The state of Texas and the U.S. government have separate systems for classifying illegal drugs. It’s important to note that, even though they use different systems, the drugs themselves are the same.

In Texas, the law categorizes drugs differently and assigns various punishments for their possession, sale, or manufacture. There are drug penalty groups under Texas law, each with its own range of penalties.

On the other hand, federal law organizes controlled substances into five drug schedules, established by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Each schedule comes with different penalties, with Schedule I having the harshest punishments and Schedule V having the least severe penalties.

Conspiracy of Federal Drug Cases

Federal law enforcement has jurisdiction over drug conspiracy cases if certain conditions are met. These federal drug crime conspiracies include:

Interstate or International Activity 21 U.S.C. 841

Federal authorities often step in when drug conspiracies involve activities that intent to distribute across state lines or international borders, especially if drug trafficking operations span multiple states or countries.

High-Quantity Drugs 21 U.S.C. 841(c)

The federal government tends to handle cases with big amounts of powerful drugs like cocaine, heroin, meth, or fentanyl. They’re more interested in these cases.

Involvement of Dangerous Weapons 18 U.S.C. 924(c)

If those in the drug scheme have guns or other dangerous weapons, the case can become a federal issue. The federal authorities are really strict about drugs and weapons being connected.

Drug Conspiracy 21 U.S.C. Section 846 & 963

A drug conspiracy happens when a group of people agree to commit a federal drug crime, even if they didn’t carry it out or do it personally.

Protected Location Offenses

You might face a protected location charge if you sell drugs to people under 21, sell drugs near a school, or hire people under 18 for drug activities.

Federal Drug Law Overview

Types of drugs are ranked in the following schedule under the Federal Controlled Substances Act:

  • Schedule I drugs, like marijuana, ecstasy,  LSD, peyote, and heroin, are highly addictive and have no accepted medical use.
  • Drugs in Schedule II, such as cocaine, meth, Vicodin, Ritalin, OxyContin, and Adderall, are highly addictive and cause dependence.
  • Schedule III drugs, including ketamine, codeine meds, and anabolic steroids, have a lower potential for addiction compared to Schedule I and II.
  • Valium, Xanax, and Ambien are Schedule IV drugs with low addiction and abuse risks.
  • Schedule V drugs are even less likely to be abused than Schedule IV drugs, and they contain specific amounts of certain narcotics.

Federal Drug Conspiracy Charges

  • If you’re caught with larger quantities of those drugs, a first-time offense can result in 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million for one person.
    • A second conviction could mean 20 years to life in prison and fines up to $20 million if it’s an individual’s crime. If it’s your third offense, you could face life imprisonment and a $20 million fine.
  • Possessing any amount of other Schedule I and II drugs not mentioned earlier can lead to up to 20 years in prison for a first offense.
    • Imprisonment up to 30 years for a second offense. The fines could be up to $1 million and up to $2 million.
  • Having any amount of another Schedule III drug for the first time could mean up to 10 years in prison with a fine of up to $500,000.
    • A second offense may result in up to 20 years in prison with fines of up to $1 million.
  • First-time possession of a Schedule IV drug may lead to up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
    • A second offense could result in up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000.
  • Possession of Schedule V drugs: max 1 year in prison and a $100,000 fine for the first offense..
    •  A second offense can lead to 4 years in jail and a $200,000 fine.

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!

If you or someone you know is facing federal drug charges, it’s a good idea to reach out to a federal drug crimes attorney. They can be a real lifeline in trying to keep your freedom intact. Therefore, it’s important not to talk to the police or federal agents until you have legal representation.

The Texas Criminal Defense Group comprises seasoned criminal attorneys, including former prosecutors, who can offer you a strong and assertive defense at the federal court.

It can be intimidating to navigate the legal system’s complexity, especially when facing the prospect of incarceration. A good attorney will work hard to give you the best defense available in addition to trying to win the case. They use their expertise to refute the charges made against you.