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What Are the Differences Between Virginia State and Federal Drug Charges?

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The criminal charges and penalties for drug crimes can differ if you are facing federal drug charges, as opposed to drug charges in Virginia. The criminal penalties will depend on the substances and quantity involved. Drug crimes are serious, and criminal penalties for federal drug charges can be severe. This is why it is critical for you to speak with a qualified Virginia criminal defense attorney about your federal drug charges immediately.

Federal charges differ from those at state level because of Congress' power. Congress has charged the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with the task of implementing the Controlled Substances Act.

Federal law enforcement typically monitors interstate trafficking of drugs, international drug trafficking, and larger quantities of controlled substances. Because the crimes are more serious than most at state level, the penalties are more severe. For example, if a drug crime in Virginia comes with a one year jail sentencing, the same crime at federal level may have double or triple the jail time.

If you commit a drug crime under the Controlled Substances Act, offenses at federal level may include:
  • Manufacturing drugs - intent to manufacture or distribute illicit drugs
  • Drug trafficking - interstate trafficking or international drug trafficking
  • Conspiracy - promoting the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs
  • Continuing criminal enterprise crimes - a person trafficking drugs in connection with five or more others 
  • Protected location offenses - distributing drugs to people under 21, within a school zone or other protected zone

There are other drug offenses that the Act includes and the DEA enforces. Drug crimes at the federal level may have set minimum and maximum prison terms and may vary from state drug sentencing terms.

For a more information on the differences between state and federal drug crime charges and how they relate to your case, call a northern Virginia criminal defense lawyer at the Wilson Law Firm at (703) 361-6100 for a free legal consultation.

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