2 mistakes that could turn a basic drug charge into a federal crime


Most people who get arrested for a drug offense will face state charges. North Carolina has relatively strict rules regarding the possession, manufacture and distribution of prohibited substances, and penalties include both jail time and fines. There are also strict rules that apply to controlled substances, like prescription medications. Federal drug charges are often more serious and can involve a mandatory minimum sentence.

It is true that the typical arrest in North Carolina for drug possession or even possession with intent will result in state-level charges. However, sometimes individuals face federal prosecution instead. Those accused of involvement in a large-scale drug operation investigated by federal authorities will likely face federal charges. Even those who only get caught with enough of a drug for personal use could find themselves in the federal criminal justice system.

What two mistakes put you at risk of federal drug charges?


If you traveled from North Carolina to South Carolina with methamphetamine or marijuana in your vehicle, your actions technically constitute interstate trafficking. Although you may have no intention of trafficking or distributing those drugs, taking them across state lines leaves you open to federal prosecution.

The same obviously applies to international borders, although that may be a bigger concern for people living in Washington or Texas as opposed to those living here in South Carolina.


There are numerous places in South Carolina where federal laws, rather than state laws dictate what happens. For example, when you visit a national park, you could very easily find yourself subject to federal law enforcement efforts.

If you carry recreational drugs or controlled substances, such as parks or even criminal justice facilities, you could easily face federal charges if you get caught. Especially if the individual who arrests you is a federal employee and not a member of state or local law enforcement agencies, your risk of federal drug charges even for simple possession is noteworthy.

Understanding how simple mistakes could drastically increase the severity of the potential charges you face can help you stay safer when you know what behaviors increase your risk for federal drug charges, you can avoid those particular situations.