Most drug offenses are state crimes. However, there are some circumstances where the federal government may bring drug charges against you.
What is the difference between Maryland and federal drug offenses?
Maryland vs. federal drug offenses
The state of Maryland charges most drug offenders according to Maryland controlled substance laws. However, there are some instances where the federal government may bring charges. Most of the time, this happens when authorities charge a person with drug trafficking that involves a large number of drugs and money or an aggravating factor, such as trafficking that involves weapons, immigration fraud or smuggling. Additionally, if you commit a drug crime on national lands, such as a national park or national wildlife refuge, or while crossing state lines, you may receive a federal charge.
The Drug Enforcement Administration investigates federal drug crimes. The DEA primarily investigates people who grow, distribute or manufacture drugs. The agency also investigates people who smuggle drugs into the United States from other countries.
Penalties for federal crimes
Penalties for federal drug crimes often result in longer sentences than state crimes. Some federal offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences of five to 10 years, meaning that judges must sentence you to at least the minimum amount of jail time if you receive a conviction. If you have a previous federal drug crime conviction or your offense causes an injury or death, you may face a minimum sentence of 20 years.
All drug offenses are serious. However, federal drug offenses are particularly serious because of the potentially severe penalties that may result from convictions.