When a person has been arrested for a Los Angeles drug offense, the City Attorney or District Attorney will determine whether the case will be filed as a misdemeanor or felony. The level of the offense depends on the specific facts of the case and the criminal history of the person being charged.
In certain situations, the crime will be charged as a Federal offense, and will be dealt with by Federal courts. A charge will become Federal when it involves a significant amount of drugs, involves inter state travel or took place on Federal land, state park or aboard a plane.
For example, David puts 40 pounds of marijuana in his car and drives from California to Colorado. He will be charged under Federal law. Similarly, if David was growing marijuana in a neighboring state park, he will be charged under Federal law.
If a drug is charged under Federal Drug law, there will be a mandatory minimum sentence, that will generally involve jail time and sentences are usually a lot stricter than State law. For a simple possession, first offense, a person being charged could fact anywhere between 15 days to 2 years in prison and a fine between $2,500 to $250,000.
For a second offense, the person is facing anywhere between 90 days to 3 years in prison and a fine of $5,000 to $250,000. The difference between state and federal guidelines is that State guidelines generally start with a minimum of zero days in jail. In contract, Federal law gives a minimum mandatory sentence. This means that the Federal Judge must give the minimum jail time in the very least, they do not have the discretion to deviate from the sentence. They may impose jail time beyond the minimum and within the maximum but they do not have the authority to give zero jail time like the state guidelines allow.
When your state imposed drug offense is not longer a state matter, a Southern California Drug Offense Attorney will not be able to help represent you, unless they are licensed to appear before the Federal Judge. Many criminal defense attorneys are able to do so, and if they aren’t, are associated with other criminal defense attorneys who would be able to.
A federal charge is a serious concern. It precludes a person from applying to government positions, job as well as educational institutions. A federal case, much like a State criminal case must be taken very seriously. The help of a Southern California Criminal attorney will help a person who is being charged learn their options and speak to someone who is an expert in the area. At the Federal level, legal representation is highly recommended. The penalties are more severe and the facts of the case involve different laws, other than those of State laws. To properly defend and argue a case, it is necessary to have someone who is well versed and knowledgeable in Federal law.