On behalf of Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry on Saturday, July 27, 2019.
One of the benefits of living in the Saint Louis, Missouri, area is the fact that it doesn’t take long to cross over into Illinois. However, the accessibility of a nearby state can prove somewhat dangerous for those with a desire for certain substances.
The possession of any prohibited drug is a criminal offense in both Illinois and Missouri. However, possession offenses typically wind up prosecuted by the state in which someone gets caught. If, however, authorities can prove that someone crossed from Illinois into Missouri or vice versa while in possession of a banned substance, that possession offense could become a federal crime instead of a state crime.
The potential penalties are higher for a federal drug crime than they are for a state possession offense. Also, a conviction could haunt you for much longer and impact more areas of your life.
Just because it’s legal in one state doesn’t mean you can cross state lines
With Chicago and several other urban centers within driving distance, it makes sense that those who use or even sell illegal drugs might cross state lines in order to make cheaper purchases or to work with someone that they know and trust. In some cases, the desire could mean that you benefit from different laws in the other state.
Illinois recently legalized adult recreational marijuana possession. However, those laws end at the border of the state. If a Missouri resident purchases legal cannabis in a regulated Illinois dispensary, bringing their purchase back into Missouri is a violation of both Missouri state law and federal law. Even those who participate in the Missouri State medical marijuana program would violate the law by crossing state lines with cannabis in their vehicle.
Obviously, other prohibited or controlled substances won’t even be a gray area. Bringing cocaine, illegal prescription drugs or heroin into or out of Missouri could result in accusations of federal drug trafficking.
Drug trafficking involves moving prohibited substances, not just selling them
There are quite a few people who mistakenly believe that drug trafficking refers only to the sale or distribution of controlled substances. However, drug trafficking can also involve moving drugs from one location to another.
Even if you don’t intend to resell them, crossing state lines with drugs in your possession is a form of trafficking under federal law. The penalties vary drasticallydepending on the substance in question, the number of previous offenses on your record and the amount of the drug in your possession at the time of your arrest.
Defending against federal drug crimes is different than defending against state charges. You should consider talking with an attorney who has experience in federal criminal defense to devise a workable defense strategy when facing federal crimes related to the transportation of drugs across state lines.