Posted on 4/18/22

If you have been charged with a crime in Texas, you may be facing state charges or federal charges. Understanding the difference between state and federal crimes can be confusing. State crimes violate Texas laws, while federal crimes violate federal laws. Texas police officers investigate State crimes while federal investigative agencies investigate federal crimes. Federal crimes may carry heavier penalties, but not always. 

  1. Drug Crimes

Texas has its own state laws that prohibit the possession and distribution of unlawful controlled substances. Likewise, the federal government has its own drug laws. Nearly 80% of mandatory minimum sentences involve offenders who have been convicted of drug crimes. Drug trafficking is one of the most commonly charged federal crimes. 

This crime occurs when the offender manufactures, or possesses the intention to dispense, manufacture, or distribute any amount of a prohibited drug or controlled substances. Drug import or export into or from the US is another serious federal drug crime. The penalties usually include five-year, ten-year, or life-long prison sentences. If serious bodily injury or death occurs during the crime, the defendant faces at least 20 years to life in prison. 

  1. Immigration

Immigration cases make up a significant percentage of federal prosecutions. These types of cases range from the federal government prosecuting a visitor who has overstayed his or her visa to entering the United States without a valid Visa or green card. More serious immigration-related charges include immigrant smuggling through the Texas border. Many of these alleged immigration crimes are committed by people who are not US citizens. Federal immigration courts are overwhelmed with cases and backed up significantly.

  1. Weapons Crimes

Weapons crimes involve people who possess illegal firearms or weapons. They can also involve people possessing legal weapons who are not legally permitted to carry them. For example, a convicted felon cannot possess a handgun. However, most weapons charges at the federal level are paired with other types of charges. Federal prosecutors and judges are serious when it comes to prosecuting weapons crimes. The majority of defendants convicted of weapons crimes in federal court will receive prison sentences.

Understanding Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Federal charges are somewhat unique from state charges because many of them require mandatory minimum sentences. Currently, 189 federal crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences. For example, trafficking synthetic drugs is currently a crime punishable with mandatory life imprisonment. 

If you have been charged with a crime that includes a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge is required to impose the minimum prison sentence on you if you are convicted. Many people argue that these mandatory minimum standards remove the sentencing judge’s discretion. Until the law changes, it is important that you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing federal criminal charges.

Reach Out to a Dallas/Fort Worth Attorney Today

If you or someone you love is being investigated or facing federal criminal charges, you need a skilled federal defense attorney on your side. Contact the Dallas Fort Worth attorneys at Abel Law Firm today to schedule your free initial case evaluation. 

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