If you or someone you know has an upcoming federal criminal trial, you might be stressed out and worried, and you might have a lot of questions. What is the difference between state and federal charges? What can you expect from the criminal defense process?
The defense process
State law and federal law are entirely separate. This means that, if you allegedly violate federal law, you can face charges from a federal prosecutor and have to defend yourself in a federal court even if what you allegedly did is not illegal under your state’s laws.
In your trial, the prosecutor will try to present evidence to prove that you satisfied the elements that federal law requires in order for them to be able to convict you of committing a specific crime. Your attorney’s job will be either to present evidence to refute the charges or to try to get the charges against you reduced to lesser charges.
The potential penalties
Federal law has established a series of five categories – called schedules – that outline the range of potential penalties for possession, use, or sale of different types of drugs. Schedule I drugs are the most severe and carry hefty penalties. Schedule V is the least dangerous type of drug and includes many types of prescription medicine with the potential for abuse.
The other factor that will determine the severity of the penalties that you could face upon conviction is the quantity of the drug allegedly in your possession at the time of arrest. Federal law outlines specific amounts of each type of drug that can increase the penalty proportionally.
As scary as it is to face criminal charges, you will always have the opportunity to defend yourself. With the help of your attorney, you can prepare a defense to the charges and tell your side of the story in court.