How is it Determined Whether a Case is Filed at the Federal or State Level in a Large Drug Seizure?
In these big drug seizures where kilos of cocaine, methamphetamine or some other drug are found and the person is taken into custody, the question becomes, is the case going to be state or federal?
They will get wiretap search warrants on numerous people that are involved in these cases.
Then, with that wiretap search warrant, the federal government will then listen to conversations, conduct surveillances, seize drugs and ultimately indict those involved.
Gang Activity and RICO Charges
If gang members are involved, they will do what is called a RICO filing, where the file RICO charges which is the Racketeering and Organized cases that you see on the news all the time. They'll also file:
- drug sales,
- intimidating witness cases, and
- murder cases.
Whatever that gang is involved with, they will try to hit all the gang members with those particular charges.
Weapons, Amount of Drugs, and Multiple Defendants
So, when you're talking about federal versus state, I will tell you some of the biggest factors since I've handled both. I've handled a lot of these big drug seizure cases where weapons are found, multiple defendants are arrested:
- they're going to be looking at the amount of drugs involved,
- the length of the investigation,
- the amount of people that are involved, and
- the amount of sophistication.
If all those things lean in favor of a situation where you have a lot of drugs, a long investigation, a lot of people involved and a lot of complications, then the feds are likely to take it.
If on the other hand, you have a single seizure where there's no big connections to organized crime and other major drug cases, at least that the feds know about, then the state will usually take that case.
Another thing you have to be leery of is, a lot of times what I see happen is, somebody somehow gets involved in a big drug bust. Drugs are involved.
Major narcotics are involved and the person is taken into custody and then they're either let go or they're given a court date in the state court.
Drug Crime Investigation by Federal Agents
So, they think they're home free. They didn't get that federal case where they're looking at mandatory minimums and custody.
What they don't realize is that they are in the middle of a federal investigation, but the feds are not ready to indict everybody.
Because once they arrest and indict you, for example, they then have to share that information with your attorney who will share it with you.
You can then share that with other people who might be involved in the investigation and now they've lost an entire huge federal investigation.
So, a lot of times they just won't prosecute federally. Sometimes they won't prosecute you at all until they are ready to make their move and indict everybody.
Then they send them out to grab everybody at the same time so nobody slips out of the net.
Federal Criminal Defense for Drug Charges
So, if you or a loved one has been arrested, major narcotics involved, you suspect it may be filed as a federal case, even a big state case because there are major narcotics units in downtown Los Angeles who prosecute big drug cases, get ahold of Ron Hedding.
Pick up the phone. Ask to speak to me. I've been handling federal drug charges now for 27 years. I stand at the ready to help you or your loved one and move forward in a positive direction.
Hedding Law Firm is a top-rated criminal defense law firm located in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. We serve clients in all California federal courts and throughout the United States. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 374-3952.