While drug trafficking is illegal in the State of Texas, there are certain instances in which the federal government will take the case on as a federal case. It is important to recognize that the potential consequences of a federal conviction are generally steeper than sentencing at the state level. Understanding why drug trafficking offenses are sometimes kicked over to the feds can help you better understand your case.
Drug Trafficking Defined
Put simply, drug trafficking is the crime of unlawfully importing, transporting, or selling illegal prescription drugs and/or other controlled substances. Similar to drug possession charges, a drug trafficking charge accuses you of knowingly being in possession of the illegal substance. Trafficking charges, however, include your alleged intention of selling and/or delivering the drugs. Being charged with trafficking elevates a possession charge to a felony.
To prove trafficking is at play – rather than personal use – the prosecutor must have evidence that indicates the intention to distribute. Such evidence can include:
- A device for weighing drugs
- Packaging that is associated with the distribution of drugs (small plastic bags for example)
- Business cards
- Large amounts of cash
- Written or electronic sales records
Additionally, prosecutors often rely upon witness testimony from people who were involved in the alleged buying and/or selling of the drugs. All of this evidence is what is known as circumstantial evidence and can be disputed.
Federal prosecutors have vast discretion to bring charges in any case that involves a federal offense. Exacting drug laws exist at both the federal and state levels, and there is a significant overlap. As such, nearly any drug case can be tried by the feds if they so choose. Generally, only big cases interest the federal government, but sometimes a smaller case will garner interest because of its possible correlation with something more significant.
Factors Related to Bringing Federal Charges
There are certain circumstances that make it more likely the federal government will take on a case, including:
- Large quantities of certain drugs such as cocaine may pique the federal government’s interest because of the drug’s close connection to South American trafficking rings and to Central American cartels.
- If the drugs were moved via a national organization like the U.S. Postal Service or they were otherwise transferred across state lines, it might draw federal attention. This is especially pertinent in Texas, which has both national and international borders.
- Special interests can also play a role in which cases the federal government alights upon. The current opioid crisis makes cases involving the drug more relevant to federal authorities.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with an Attorney
If you have been accused of drug trafficking or any other crime, it’s in your best interest to contact an experienced attorney as soon as you can. At the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, we are committed to protecting the rights of criminal defendants and resolving cases as favorably as possible. To schedule a free case evaluation with an attorney, call our office today at (254) 220-4225 or contact us online.