Federal Crimes Blog

Federal or State Charges in Large Drug Seizures?

Posted by Hedding Law Firm | Dec 28, 2020

How is it Determined Whether a Case is Filed at the Federal or State Level in a Large Drug Seizure?

In these significant 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?

A lot of these significant drug cases end up being federal because the feds are usually the ones who are sophisticated enough to investigate these cases.

They will get wiretap search warrants on numerous people involved in these cases.

Then, with that wiretap search warrant, the federal government will listen to conversations, conduct surveillance, seize drugs, and ultimately indict those involved.

Gang Activity and RICO Charges

Gang Activity and Federal RICO Charges
If gang members are involved in large drug cases, then RICO charges, the Racketeering and Organized crime cases will be filed.

If gang members are involved, they will do a RICO filing, where they file RICO charges, which is the Racketeering and Organized cases 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 charges.

Weapons, Amount of Drugs, and Multiple Defendants

So, when you're talking about federal versus state, I will tell you some of the most significant factors since I've handled both. I've dealt with a lot of these substantial 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 lengthy 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 are no significant 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 cautious of is that a lot of times, what I see happen is that 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

Drug Crime Investigation by Federal Agents
Major federal drug crime investigations are handled by agents at the Drug Enforcement Administration.

So, they think they're home free.  They didn't get that federal case looking at mandatory minimums and custody.

They don't realize that they are in the middle of a federal investigation, but the feds are not ready to indict everybody.

Once they arrest and indict you, for example, they 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 massive federal investigation.

So, a lot of times, they won't prosecute federally.  Sometimes, they won't charge you until they are ready to make their move and indict everybody. Then they send them out to grab everybody simultaneously so nobody slips out of the net.

What Are the Common Mistakes to Avoid?

The drug crime cases that are charged at the federal level are often accused of multiple defendants.  They usually charge RICO allegations because a lot of these cases involve alleged gang members moving drugs and doing other criminal activity.

I think the first common mistake to avoid if you or a loved one is charged with one of these federal drug crime cases is not taking it seriously.  

If the feds take the time to prosecute, arrest, and deal with someone in one of these cases, they see a lot of time in custody.  Most of the time, people are facing the 10-year mandatory minimum because the feds don't usually get involved with drug cases unless there are enough drugs involved to trigger that 10-year minimum.   

The second mistake is not getting a criminal defense attorney that you have paid for and given the information about the case on the matter right away. 

In 1994, I started defending drug cases across the United States, representing people.  So, you've come to somebody with experience; in my opinion, that's what you need.  

The third common mistake is people talk to the government.  They give them information.  They think somehow they can talk their way out of a case, and of course, that's not the best idea.  They often do or say things that put them in a worse position.

I get in there and talk to you or your loved one.  I made it clear not to speak to the police.  Let me deal with the police and prosecutors.  We'll talk about what involvement you may or may not have had with these drug charges so that we can adequately defend you.  We'll investigate the case, review everything, and talk to you about it to get the best possible result.  

Federal Criminal Defense for Drug Charges

Federal Criminal Defense for Drug Charges
Call the Hedding Law Firm to learn how we can defend you.

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 significant narcotics units in downtown Los Angeles that 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 ready to help you or your loved one and move forward positively.

Hedding Law Firm is a top-rated criminal defense law firm 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.

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