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The severity of federal drug crimes

On Behalf of | Jun 23, 2023 | Federal Crimes

Facing federal drug charges can be life-changing. The steps you take can mean the difference in the outcome of your case.

Federal agencies conduct investigations with charges taking the form of federal crimes. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is the agency enforcing controlled substance laws. Their sole focus is on investigations of federal drug crimes.

The drug scheduling system

While all states have their own drug scheduling system, the federal government and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also established a national drug schedule:

  • Schedule 1 is categorized as narcotics that have no accepted medical use, not to mention being a significant risk for abuse. Included in this category are heroin, ecstasy, and marijuana
  • Schedule 2 is made up of drugs with significant potential for abuse but not as serious as Schedule 1. Included are cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone, and fentanyl
  • Schedule 3 involves drugs a medical use, yet the potential exists for dependence. Listed in this category are Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, testosterone, and steroids
  • Schedule 4 drugs have a low risk for abuse and include Xanax, Valium, Ambien, and Tramadol
  • Schedule 5 has the lowest risk, with a majority involving over-the-counter medication that includes Robitussin, Lomotil, and Lyrica

Additional scenarios

Suspects accused of controlled substances found after crossing state lines can potentially find themselves facing federal drug trafficking charges as well.

Being found with drugs on national land (parks, wildlife refuges, and military reservations) can see them charged by federal authorities with penalties ranging from five to 40 years in prison and up to two million dollars in fines. Those running illegal marijuana farms are the most common offenses.

Various factors can ramp up the severity of drug crimes, particularly if the alleged offender has a prior record. The complexity of these criminal cases is nothing to handle without the help of an attorney who focuses on federal drug offenses.