Despite the fact that state laws are starting to change considerably when it comes to offenses involving marijuana, possession, distribution and manufacture of the drug remain federal offenses. This means that in states like Florida where there are both state and federal laws that prohibit drug crimes involving marijuana, you could face state and/or federal charges if you are accused of a criminal offense.
In many cases, a person who is arrested by state law enforcement agents will go through the state court system. If federal agents arrest you, your case will go through the federal courts. However, there are other reasons why you could wind up in federal court instead of state court.
Federal charges are filed when a drug offense involves a federal crime. On its own, for instance, distribution of marijuana could be charged as a state offense. However, couple that offense with something like mail fraud, and you will face federal charges.
For instance, recently a man was arrested in Florida for allegations stemming from distributing marijuana using the U.S. Postal Service. He is a mail carrier and has been accused of knowingly transporting drugs and profits from drug sales through the mail. He is also accused of providing information on vacant properties to alleged drug dealers to facilitate drug transactions.
Mail fraud is a federal offense. When there are allegations of someone using the postal service to commit a crime, the federal government will get involved. Should misconduct be uncovered, any charges will be filed by federal prosecutors.
Avoiding the federal system is preferable for many reasons. Most importantly, however, is the fact that federal courts comply with very harsh sentencing requirements. In general, the penalties for an offense convicted in federal court will be stricter than the penalties often handed down by state courts.
Whether you are facing state or federal drug charges, defending yourself will be critical. In both cases, you will want to have the support and guidance of a criminal defense attorney familiar with defending people in both courts.