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Possessing drugs can result in federal and state charges

Under federal law, it's illegal to possess certain drugs. It's also against the law to possess illegal drugs according to state laws. In some instances, individuals could face both state and federal charges for doing so.

Simple drug possession refers to possessing drugs without the intent to distribute, sell or transport them. This is a misdemeanor under federal laws and may lead to up to a year in prison and a minimum fine of $1,000. It's possible to be fined and to receive time in prison for this charge if convicted.

Between 2008 and 2013, the number of people whose federal offenses were simple drug possession rose up around 400 percent. Why did it increase so much? While an increase makes it seem like the government has cracked down harder in recent years, the fact is that individuals along the U.S./Mexico border are actually to blame. More marijuana charges are placed there than in most other parts of the United States.

There were around 2,319 simple possession offenders in 2013's fiscal year. This number has been increasing, although the number of federal drug trafficking offenders has dropped. Interestingly, the top areas for arrests for simple possession of marijuana include eastern Virginia, western Texas, southern Georgia and eastern North Carolina.

Since you could face federal or state charges for drug crimes, it's in your best interests to work with someone familiar with federal and state laws. National laws aren't always the same as state laws, so knowing exactly which charges you face and why is vital to creating a strong defense.

Source: USSC, "Weighing the Charges: Simple Possession of Drugs in the Federal Criminal Justice System," accessed Jan. 10, 2018

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