Drug charges are serious no matter the circumstances, but the involvement of the federal government and its prosecuting attorneys can heighten the stakes on several fronts. Everything from sentencing to the very dynamics of the courtroom and trial proceedings is different than on the state level. Defendants may be best served by relying on a Little Rock drug crimes lawyer who has experience with drug offenses and in federal court.
Have you been charged with a federal drug crime? Call Omar F. Greene, Attorney at Law, today at (501) 600-0451 or contact us online to schedule a meeting with our Little Rock federal drug crimes attorney!
When Does a drug crime become a Federal offense?
The U.S. government gains jurisdiction over a drug case when the crime involves crossing state lines. A Little Rock resident charged with distribution here locally would be a state crime. But if that same resident drives the 140 miles to Memphis and does the same thing, it is now a federal crime. Our central location in Little Rock means there is reasonable access to the border of no fewer than six states, meaning there is a good chance drug crimes involved at least some level of cooperation with a party from across state lines.
Furthermore, federal jurisdiction can be invoked if any aspect of the drug offense took place on federal lands, which include national parks and military bases. Is there an allegation of a meeting with someone in Hot Springs National Park? That’s federal land and, therefore, can result in federal crimes. The same goes for Little Rock Air Force Base or any other property owned by the federal government. Federal authority over a drug offense can also apply if the mail is involved, be it the United States Postal Service or a private carrier. It’s also possible that a federal prosecutor could cite the use of cellphone service in illegal activity as the basis for claiming jurisdiction, with carriers themselves crossing state lines.
In other words, if the federal government wants to prosecute a drug case, there’s a good chance they can find a way to be involved. It doesn’t necessarily mean they will—federal prosecutors may well choose to leave a case in the state of Arkansas’ hands. But the feds can look for reasons to be involved, and those reasons are unlikely to be favorable to the defendant.
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The federal government uses a model similar to the states' in setting up sentencing guidelines based on the type of drug involved. Drugs are classified on a five-rung schedule based on their potential for addiction, as well as their potential for legitimate medical use. The federal drug schedule is as follows…
These are the drugs that will bring the most severe penalties. The drugs are considered to have no legitimate medical use and a high potential for addiction. Prominent examples include heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. Please also note that the federal government considers marijuana to be a Schedule I drug, although Arkansas does allow its use for prescribed medical purposes.
Cocaine, meth, and fentanyl are high-profile drugs included in Schedule II. These drugs are still in the category of being considered highly dangerous and lacking in legitimate medical usage.
We now move into drugs where there is at least a possibility they may have some legitimate medical use under the guidance of a physician. They still, however, have a high possibility of addiction. Noteworthy examples include testosterone and steroids.
Now we’re in a schedule range of drugs that are considered fairly low risk, and their addictive quality, while real, is not dramatically high. Xanax and Valium are examples of Schedule IV substances.
The least serious rung on the federal drug schedule covers medications that can be purchased over the counter, including Robitussin. The unique circumstances of each case—such as the quality involved—decide whether there is an illegal activity.
It has to be emphasized that even the “least serious” drug on the federal schedule is still quite serious by any reasonable measure. The judges in federal cases are bound by minimum sentencing guidelines, ranging from 5 years in jail to 20 years behind bars. And those are the minimums. A judge has the authority to issue a more severe prison term in the event of a guilty verdict.
Why Federal Court Is Different
It’s true that the basics of criminal law—such as innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a unanimous jury vote—apply whether a case is tried in the state-level Pulaski County Courthouse or the federal U.S. District Courthouse. But practical reality means state and federal cases often play out quite differently.
Federal prosecutors have much greater leeway to pick and choose their cases. This means they have a vested interest in the cases they prosecute and more time to devote to them. The judges in federal courts may also move at a more deliberate pace than their counterparts at the state level.
All of this means a Little Rock federal drug crimes lawyer must be accustomed to a higher level of detail that will be expected. They must know how to navigate this unique dynamic to give their client the best chance at justice.
Contact Our Drug Crimes Attorney Today
The Law Office of Omar F. Greene has a deep background in criminal law and the federal system and has earned the respect of the legal community in and around Little Rock. We understand what’s expected in federal court and what it takes to protect the defendant's best interests.
Contact Omar F. Greene, Attorney at Law today to schedule a FREE consultation with our federal drug crimes attorney in Little Rock!
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