Both Florida and the federal government ban many of the same substances. Controlled substances laws prohibit the possession or manufacture of methamphetamine at the federal and state level, for example. They also make it illegal to abuse or resell prescription drugs.
Typically, when someone faces criminal charges for drug-related activity in Florida, they will face state charges. A local police officer will arrest someone for possession or a similar offense, and Florida will prosecute.
Sometimes, federal prosecution occurs instead. When will the federal government prosecute a drug offense in Florida?
The case involves manufacturing or trafficking
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a federal agency that helps investigate drug offenses and provides support to local agencies and their enforcement of state and federal drug laws. They take particular interest in interstate drug operations and those who manufacture drugs.
If the DEA directly investigates someone for a large-scale operation involving manufacturing, distribution or transportation of prohibited substances, the individual involved in the investigation could face federal charges.
The accused crossed state or national boundaries
Possession is only a state-level offense when it occurs in one legal jurisdiction. When you take someone else’s prescription pain medication with you on your road trip to Louisiana, you don’t just violate state and federal possession laws. You also technically commit an act known as interstate trafficking.
Moving between two different states or countries can leave you vulnerable to federal charges if police or federal law enforcement officers find prohibited drugs on your person or in your vehicle. Admitting to bringing items from another state during an arrest in Florida could also affect your case.
They use, sell, possess or transport drugs on federal property
Going to a beautiful park to enjoy sunny days is a natural impulse, but while you are at a national park you are subject to prosecution by federal agencies for any misconduct that occurs.
Even individuals with substances legal at the state level could face prosecution for possessing those items on federal property. All federal property is subject to the same law enforcement rules, including criminal justice facilities in addition to parks.
Learning about the fine line between state and federal drug charges can help people minimize their prosecution risk.