Maryland Federal Drug Lawyer
Federal drug crimes are treated similarly to other drug charges in Maryland which is to say they are treated very seriously. There are a wide range of drug related offenses that you can face that warrant contact from a Maryland federal drug lawyer due to their severity. Among the most serious are drug distribution charges or charges of possession with intent to distribute each of which can carry serious jail time. As a result, if you are charged it is imperative you seek the counsel of an experienced Maryland federal criminal lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and begin building a defense.
Federal vs. State Drug Charges
There are a number of ways charges in the federal system differ from the state system. Federal drug charges in Maryland carry more significant penalties than state drug charges in most cases. State drug charges have, in certain circumstances, mandatory minimum sentences that a judge must impose, however these are more infrequent than the mandatory sentences a judge might impose in federal circumstances.
Federal cases have a great deal more of their penalties drawn out based on the type of drug, the weight that was involved with a particular drug, and whether the substance was above or below one kilogram.
These detailed laws and sentences are designed to have a much greater impact on somebody found guilty of committing a federal drug offense than they would at the state level where weight is a lesser factor when it comes to sentencing. A person can be sure that prosecutors will work very hard to dig up evidence they can use to prove guilt. This can also have an impact on a federal drug case arraignment, which determines whether a person is released on bond.
For those reasons, the penalties of a federal drug case can be far more significant than a state case and require the attention of a federal drug lawyer in Maryland.
Is It Possible to be Charged With a Federal Offense For Intrastate Activities?
Typically, interstate drug offenses are charged in the Federal System because the jurisdiction always falls within the Federal System when something is being moved from one state to another. How federal jurisdiction applies to illegal activities happening intrastate, meaning within the state itself, depends on the jurisdiction.
Usually, the prosecutor’s offices at the state level are in close touch with the prosecutor’s office at the federal level. They determine whether cases should be transferred to federal jurisdiction. The litmus test for whether a case is transferred to federal jurisdiction is very ambiguous. If the Federal Courts or prosecutors decide they want to adjudicate a case from the State, they do it. This is often because of the resources available to the Federal System; they are more far reaching than the state prosecutor’s office and therefore, have more ability to commit resources.
Most often, drug offenses in the Federal System fall under the federal jurisdiction because most drugs are not manufactured in the state of Maryland. They are transported from another state. That is how the prosecutors justify the need to have the federal prosecutors’ office intervene in the investigation.
The most common offense Maryland federal drug attorneys see is possession of drugs. There are a number of federal roadways throughout the United States where people operate motor vehicles. Oftentimes when these vehicles are subjected to a search, officers will find small amounts of recreational drugs in the car, such as marijuana, cocaine, and prescription medications not prescribed to the individual who is in possession of them. These kinds of charges are usually misdemeanor charges, but fall under federal territory and therefore, under federal jurisdiction of the court system.
The more serious kinds of drug offenses charged by the Federal System are distribution, trafficking, and manufacture of controlled dangerous substances, which although not as common as possession are still charged as felonies and usually involve much larger quantities of drugs.
Are Federal Charges Public Record?
Federal drug charges are public records. There is a system called the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) that provides detailed access to information associated with federal cases. It is available only to people who register online for PACER.
Additionally, federal records are public. They are kept at any Federal Court and can be accessed by anyone who wants to make a formal request for paperwork on the case.
Steps to Take
When someone faces federal drug charges or learns they are under investigation for any federal matter, the first thing on their checklist should be to contact a Maryland federal drug attorney.
The rest of the checklist depends on the person’s attorney’s assessment of the investigation of the case. In some situations, if lawyers know that an arrest is approaching, it might be appropriate for the defense attorney to contact the prosecutor handling the case to delay the arrest or make other arrangements.
In a situation where an arrest is some time in the future, there are other things the defense attorney may suggest an individual accomplish such as meet with and assist the defense attorney in speaking to witnesses to potentially build a case of its own to present to the prosecution before they decide to charge the individual.
The federal drug lawyer in Maryland can tell the individual which particular three-point checklist is tailored to their circumstances when they find out they are being investigated or charged. There is no strategy that works for everyone. Some people continue to be investigated even after they have been arrested and indicted. The only advice that is consistent is to contact a federal drug attorney immediately to discuss whatever is going on and proceed with their investigation.
Differences Between Drug Charges & Other Criminal Charges
Drug trafficking is a charge in which a person is alleged to be selling drugs or moving large amounts of drugs from one place to another. Drug trafficking charges are heard in Federal Court whenever the drugs move from one state to another or they come from overseas into the United States. These kinds of charges involve large amounts and high volumes of drugs. Felony charges are alleged against the individual responsible for the trafficking.
The manufacture of controlled dangerous substances in the Federal System involves the creation of the product to make it available for consumption or sale in the United States. Those include cases such as meth labs where the actual substance is being created within a particular facility. The charge does not have to be only for the creation of the product; it could also be the packaging of the product or the breaking down of the product.
For example, in cocaine manufacturing cases, there is a location where the cocaine is being manufactured, a place where the more pure product is being broken down into less pure products to increase its volume and make it eligible for sale. This is seen in cocaine and heroin cases, when a very pure substance is broken down to be sold for larger amounts of money or an increase in value when it is placed on the street.