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State vs Federal Drug Cases in Maryland

The drug cases that you find in federal court are usually drug trafficking cases, which are significantly more complex. They involve conspiracy charges and they usually involve a larger value and a larger group of people. For a very long time there were more white collar offenses, which are at the very top and involve people with a ton of money who are managing this network of people and they’re dealing in many different places.

If you have that much going on and that much money in drugs, usually there are other things that connect the Department of Justice to you. If you are charged federally then you go to district court. Many people look at these cases and think it’s just a drug crime, and there usually is a substantial amount of drugs, but there is also usually some form of a weapon, immigration fraud, or smuggling offense. Sometimes they will use people to smuggle drugs into the U.S. Those are cases where the federal government steps in, and they have their task forces as well. Drug trafficking falls under Title 21 of the U.S. Code and you’re going to spend a lot of time in jail if you’re convicted.

Difference Between State and Federal Cases

The difference is in where you are. You may be in the circuit court, district court, or federal court, but it’s just a court, that’s it. The panelists can be very similar or they can be very different depending on what you have. Generally, if you are in federal court, for example if you were caught on federal ground or there was such a substantial sum involved in the offense that the federal government jumped in, that’s really the only difference. There are not too many different aspects but as far as the severity of the charges, at the district court you can only appeal at the circuit board. If you’re in the circuit court you need to file special appeals. If you’re in the federal court, you’re at the very top and you may need to appeal to your particular circuit board, the top court in your particular circuit, or of course the Supreme Court of the United States.

Difference Between State and Federal Investigations

The agencies involved are the same. The same people are trying to get you, they just wear a different badge. There’s really no difference. If someone wants to arrest you and they are hunting you down, whether they come from the federal government or they are local, it doesn’t matter; they’re going to come find you.

Difference Between State and Federal Penalties

They are greater in number when you look at the federal guidelines versus the local guidelines. The federal rules and criminal procedure are different from the state rules and procedures. The most significant difference is that federal crimes carry massive penalties. There are certain guidelines whereas the magistrate courts of the state don’t really have any guidelines.

There is a maximum penalty and a minimum penalty. The minimum can be zero anywhere, but when you get into the federal court and are dealing with the U.S. sentencing guidelines for federal courts, it is a point system. If you’re convicted in the federal court, the guideline calculations are added up to get a number. In complex cases involving large amounts, a long investigation, and a lot of resources being used, the penalties can drive thatpoint system up.

How An Attorney Can Help In Sentencing

Seth Okin: It’s no different than what you do at the state level; you want to find as much mitigation as you can for your client. They could do a drug rehabilitation class or go to an NA meeting. Every situation is very fact specific and individual specific. If you are a first time offender, you have a better chance at a better disposition. If you’re a habitual offender, you have a chance of never seeing the light of day outside of your jail cell.