The differences between state and federal drug charges

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2023 | Blog, Criminal Defense, Drug Charges |

If the police have arrested you on drug charges, those charges may be tried in Louisiana state courts or the federal court system, depending precisely on the charges you are being accused of committing. State laws generally cover drug offenses within Louisiana that do not happen on government property and do not cross state lines. There are other differences that you will want to consider in preparing your criminal defense.


Marijuana procession is the most common drug charge in Louisiana. For the first offense, a person may receive up to six months in jail and pay up to a $5,500 fine. By comparison, the most common federal charge that needs a criminal defense is drug trafficking, and an individual can be sentenced to between five and 40 years and need to pay a fine of up to $10 million. Most people incarcerated on drug charges in the United States have been convicted of trafficking,


If a local police officer wants to investigate you on drug charges, they are generally restricted to your city’s boundaries while state police usually have to stay in the state. Meanwhile, federal authorities can go anywhere in the United States, and therefore, they may be able to find evidence that local and state officials cannot locate.

Court system

If you are charged with breaking state drug laws, a judge will try your case in your local area, but if federal authorities charge you with breaking drug laws, a federal judge will try your case in federal court. There are only three of these courts in Louisiana, so you will likely have to travel much farther.

There are many differences between state and federal drug charges.


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