Can Intent to Distribute Charges Be Tried Federally Rather than by the State?

Interviewer: Do these cases ever move to a federal level if it’s intent to distribute or do they usually stay at the state level?

Drug-Related Cases Can Be Tried on the Federal Level

Court Koehler: It can go either way honestly and most of the time it depends on who took care of the investigation or how it came about. It is not uncommon for the FBI to be involved in those investigations and if they end up arresting you, the case is probably going to end up in federal court.

What Is Utah’s Stance on the Drug Laws? Will You Be Arrested Even for Possession of a Small Amount of Illegal Drugs?

Interviewer: How strongly is the state to going after possession of drugs?  Will they charge somebody if they have a tiny bit, will they charge you for one joint to a, will they charge someone if they have one pill of oxycodone?

Court Koehler: The state can be the police officers that arrest you or the state can be the prosecutor that decides whether or not to charge you.

In my experience, if a police officer stops you and you have an extremely small quantity of marijuana, maybe it’s just a little bit of a shaving of a piece left over, it’s more likely that the actual police officer will say, “Look, I’m going to give you a warning this time.  That stuff is really serious, don’t every do that again, but I won’t charge you today.  Get on your way.”

But, if the officer goes ahead and arrests you then what happens is that file is forwarded to the prosecutor’s officer. The prosecutor looks at the file and he just decides whether or not to press charges.  An individual in possession of one joint, one pill, or one seed even, can expect to be charged by the prosecutor, even though it was a small amount.  If the case makes it that far then you are definitely going to get charged.

Can Your Attorney Use the Small Amount of Drugs as Leverage in a Plea Bargain?

Interviewer: Can you favorably negotiate cases where it’s a small amount?

Court Koehler: Absolutely.  Prosecutors are people just like the rest of us and they tend to be reasonable individuals.  If you have a very small amount of marijuana and your criminal history is pretty clean then they are more likely to go easy on you then if you have a higher amount or active criminal history.  They are busy as well and they don’t want to make extra work for themselves or for the courts. If they can get something resolved simply then it’s definitely a lot easier to negotiate.

By Court Koehler

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