Felony Drug Crimes Becoming Federal Drug Crimes

Drug trafficking laws are, in general, laws that prohibit the large-scale possession, transportation and distribution of controlled substances. North Carolina’s drug trafficking laws have two important components:

The first is that they almost always have a mandatory prison sentence. A person convicted of drug trafficking will most definitely have jail time. Second, the only way to avoid said prison time is if by providing “substantial assistance” to authorities with help of criminal defense attorney in Wake County.

This is also called “snitching.” This means, if a judge finds that substantial assistance has been offered by the defendant, then the judge may deviate from the mandatory minimums and have lesser sentence.

It is first important to understand that if a person has been arrested for a drug crime in North Carolina, it is also possible to be charged on a variety of different statutes:

  • Misdemeanor Drug Laws
  • Felony Drug Laws
  • Felony Drug Trafficking Laws

The most critical of these is federal drug laws and federal drug trafficking laws. This is because someone accused to trafficking in drugs and even conspiring to traffic drugs can have someone be charged in both the county district attorney and by federal authorities.

This is because each level of the government is considered its own separate sovereign. This makes it possible for someone to be tried and prosecuted by both state and federal governments.

However, if one entity decides to go ahead with the prosecution, the other normally declines. If one has an option, then one may opt to be charged and prosecuted under state law for some reasons.

The first reason is that while state laws are very punitive, they are less punitive than federal laws. Lastly, federal sentencing has a concept called “relevant conduct.” This allows the judge to give punishment to someone for any relevant drug or other criminal violations even if they are uncharged, or even if a jury found that person “not guilty.”

Since “relevant conduct” can create chances of being punished even if someone is “not guilty,” there can be tremendous pressure into the federal system to enter into a plea agreement with the government.