Drug charges are some of the most common and serious allegations that people face in California. There are a wide variety of penalties and complex legal arrangements associated with these charges. One distinction is that between state and federal drug crime charges.
The vast majority of drug crimes are handled on the state level. These include possession, distribution, and manufacturing with intent to sell or distribute. State charges lead to a person being tried in superior court, often by the local district attorney in their jurisdiction. Federal drug crimes are only applicable in particular situations. These often involve people who are connected to drug use or the drug trade across state lines. Such charges may also be relevant if a federal agency was brought in to investigate and file charges.
The other important difference between state and federal drug crimes is severity. Federal charges are almost always more serious than state charges. The federal government often focuses only on felony cases. They have an incredibly high conviction rate and are less inclined to pursue plea bargains than state courts.
In addition, federal jail sentences are often longer. Federal jails have a reputation for being stricter than most state-level facilities. People who face a federal jail sentence have to serve nearly all of that sentence. A state-level sentence usually only forces the convicted party to serve a portion of that sentence actually behind bars. Federal charges are more serious than state-level charges in nearly every way and they need to be treated seriously by the person who faces them.