Drug laws are confusing to many people, in part because there are so many different rules and statutes. Some drugs among the list of prohibited substances at the federal level are legal or at least decriminalized in certain states. Some states have prohibited certain drugs and compounds that are not illegal at the federal level.
If you or someone you love has recently been arrested in Texas for a drug offense, you might assume the charges will be state criminal charges.
However, there are certain circumstances that might turn standard state drug offenses into federal criminal charges. Understanding what differentiates state and federal drug charges will give you a better starting point for planning your criminal defense strategy.
International or interstate crimes
Texas is in a popular location for federal drug offenses. Those hoping to traffic drugs from Central America or Mexico cross through Texas while in possession of illegal substances.
Other people might try to bring substances into Texas from neighboring states or out of Texas into another state. When you cross a state or national boundary line with a prohibited substance, you violate federal law and open yourself up to the risk of federal prosecution.
Offenses investigated by federal agents
Federal agencies like The Drug Enforcement Administration have operatives working in places all over the United States. If you get caught up in an investigation conducted by federal agents or if you are arrested by a federal agent, you will likely face federal charges instead of state charges even if your offense only occurred within the state of Texas.
Breaking the law on federal property
Maybe you were out for a hike with some friends when you were arrested. If you are on federal land, such as the San Antonio Missions, you could very well find yourself facing federal criminal charges for mere possession of a drug.
There are potentially other factors that could result in a drug crime becoming a federal offense. Secondary crimes, the possession of weapons during the commission of a drug offense and other complicating factors could also result in a drug offense becoming a federal charge instead.
Speaking with a skilled criminal defense attorney may help you better understand your charge and how to properly defend your freedom.