The distinction between state and federal criminal charges can sometimes be confusing. However, the outcome of a criminal case can be quite different depending upon whether you are tried in a state or federal court. Here is a brief description of the difference between the two.
State vs federal statutes
Fentanyl is illegal under both federal law and Nebraska state law. Whether you could face state or federal criminal charges depends upon the circumstances of your arrest.
For example, if the police arrest you on the streets of a city in Nebraska, it’s likely that the prosecutor will use Nebraska state law to try you. If the police apprehend you while crossing state borders, or while on federal property, then you could face federal drug trafficking charges – especially if you have a large quantity of the drug in your possession.
If a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent is the one to arrest you, it is likely that you will face federal charges, since the DEA is a federal agency in charge of violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act.
How much prison time you could serve for federal charges
The range of prison sentences possible under federal law vary greatly. The prison sentence that a court will ultimately impose on a convicted defendant depends upon the circumstances of their individual situation, after taking into account factors such as the quantity of fentanyl they had, what they were doing with it, and any prior offenses they may have on their record.
Statutorily, the mandatory minimum sentence for possessing 40 grams or more of fentanyl is five years. A sentence could go as high as 40 years for that amount. The bracket increases again once the quantity of fentanyl reaches 400 grams. At that amount, the possible prison sentences range from ten years to life in prison.
Fentanyl possession can lead to serious consequences for the rest of your life. Fortunately, criminal charges do not necessarily have to end in a conviction. You have the opportunity to prepare and present a defense to the charges with your attorney.