State vs Federal Drug Charges: What's The Difference?

State vs Federal Drug Charges: What’s The Difference?

by Nov 5, 2019

If you’ve been charged with a drug-related crime, it’s important to know if you’ll be prosecuted at the state or federal level, because the penalties for state vs federal drug charges are very different. To determine who will prosecute your case, authorities will look at the circumstances of your alleged crime to make a decision.

Determining State vs Federal Drug Charges

Drug-related crimes are one of the most common types of federal crimes prosecuted every year. Typically, federal criminal charges are brought when dealing with larger quantities of drugs and/or when dealing with drug trafficking conspiracies among many people.

These types of cases often involve long-term investigations and sophisticated methods of surveillance–like wiretaps and video–to gathering evidence.

Crimes that involve smaller quantities of drugs and/or only a few people will likely be prosecuted at the state level. Keep in mind that the type of drugs involved, and the quantity of those drugs, factors heavily in determining state vs federal drug charges.

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State vs Federal Drug Charge Penalties

If you’re charged with a drug-related crime at the state level, it will be either a misdemeanor or a felony charge. If you’re charged with a misdemeanor, the penalties include up to a year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

A felony drug charge in California, depending on the type of drugs involved, carries a penalty of up to four years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

At the federal level, the penalties are much more severe. Many drug-related offenses at the federal level have mandatory minimum sentences. This means you could be looking at ten to fifteen years in federal prison at minimum. Possibly more if there are aggravating circumstances in your case, or if you have prior convictions for drug-related crimes.

Choosing The Right Attorney

It’s critical that you choose an experienced attorney if you are facing any kind of drug charges. At Quinnan Law, we have extensive experience defending clients at both the state and federal level. We know how to present the strongest possible defense in either situation, and we have a long track record of success.

To learn more or to get a free consultation about your case, please contact us today.


At Quinnan Law, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 540-2356.

We provide representation in California State and Federal Courts. We accept most major credit cards for your convenience.

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