Types of Federal Drug Crimes

If you are facing federal drug charges, it generally means that you have broken a federal law related to controlled substances or have committed a severe drug-related offense. Navigating the criminal justice system can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if this is your first drug-related charge. Understanding the different types of drug charges and their potential consequences can help you make informed decisions about your legal defense strategy.

One of the best things you can do after being charged with a federal drug crime is to reach out to a drug crimes attorney with experience in federal court. An attorney can help you develop a legal defense tailored to the facts in your unique case. Contact the experienced Charlotte defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation.  Understanding Federal Drug Schedules

The federal government has classified illegal controlled substances into five different schedules or categories. Many other states have implemented the National Drug Schedule. As a result, you can face drug-related charges at the state level or federal level. Schedule 1 drugs are considered the most dangerous drugs and carry the highest penalties for those charged with possession or distribution. These drugs have no accepted medical uses and are seen as having a high abuse risk. Heroin, LSD, and ecstasy are some of the most well-known substances that fall into the category of Schedule 1 substances.

Schedule 2 substances Are considered less severe than Schedule 1 drugs, but they still have a high potential for abuse. This category of drugs includes methamphetamine, cocaine, oxycodone, and fentanyl. Schedule 3 drugs have medical uses, but they also carry a risk for dependency.

Schedule 3 Controlled Substances include Tylenol with codeine, testosterone, steroids, and ketamine. Schedule 4 drugs are considered to have a low risk for potential abuse and include ambient, Valium, Xanax, and Tramadol. Finally, schedule 5 controlled substances are the lowest-risk drugs, including Robitussin, Lomotil, and Lyrica.

Why Was I Charged With a Federal Drug Crime?

You may be wondering why you were charged at the federal level and not under North Carolina law. All drug crimes that occur when crossing state lines can potentially be charged as federal offenses. For example, if a law enforcement officer discovered that you had crossed state borders with a controlled substance in your vehicle, you could be facing federal drug trafficking charges.

In other cases, defendants will face federal drug charges because they have been accused of committing a drug crime on National Land, where the federal government has jurisdiction. Illegal marijuana farms are a common type of drug-related federal offense that can occur on national land. National land refers to the following types of locations:

  • National Parks
  • Military bases
  • National wildlife refuges
  • Public domain land 
The Penalties for Federal Drug Charges

The penalties for federal drug charges depend on several factors, including your prior record, the type of drug involved, and the amount of drug found in your system. For the most severe types of drug charges, including drug trafficking, you could face five to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $2 million. However, if the drug trafficking led to another person's injury or death, you could face charges that carry a life sentence in prison.

Federal Agency Investigations

When a federal agency, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is investigating a drug-related offense, there is a high possibility that it will be charged as a federal crime. The DEA has been tasked with enforcing federal controlled substances laws. as a result. The agency investigates and prosecutes those who grow, manufacture, sell, or distribute drugs. They also investigate cases of drugs being imported from other countries into the United States.

Mandatory Minimum Penalties

It is essential to understand that drug offenses have mandatory minimum sentences under federal law. If you are charged with a drug crime in North Carolina, the judge could use leniency when sentencing you. When it comes to federal drug crimes, if you are convicted, the judge must sentence you to a minimum amount of time in prison, as stated in federal law.

The only way that a judge could reduce your sentence below the mandatory minimum requirement is if a prosecutor specifically requested them to do so. The majority of mandatory minimum sentences are five to 10 years. Still, they can be as high as 20 years in prison when a defendant has a prior drug-related conviction, or the offense resulted in a person's injury or death.

Contact a Charlotte Federal Criminal Defense Attorney in North Carolina

If you have been charged with a federal drug crime in Charlotte, North Carolina, it is crucial that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. Learn more about your options by contacting an attorney who understands North Carolina law and the criminal justice system. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, as soon as possible to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about how we can represent your best interests.