For most cases involving drug possession, or even possession with intent to distribute, the case is handled in state court without federal interaction. The determination of whether a criminal case should be handled at a state or federal level depends on a number of factors, particularly in drug cases, the amounts of drugs that are allegedly involved. The decision as to whether to pursue a criminal case at the state of federal level can also have a significant impact on the potential sentence the suspect may ultimately face.
You may have heard news reports concerning the arrest, about 20 miles west of Atlanta, of the musician known as Soulja Boy. The local police chief has now indicated that the investigation into that case has now been turned over to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Law enforcement officials have stated that the arrest occurred when the vehicle in which the musician was an occupant was pulled over for an equipment violation. That traffic stop led to a search of the vehicle in which police claim to have found, cash, handguns, and more than five ounces of marijuana. The occupants of the vehicles were charges with various offenses including possession with intent to distribute.
While local law enforcement officials claim that the case has now been turned over to the ATF, it appears that the case had been initially floated before the Drug Enforcement Administration. A spokesman for the DEA’s Atlanta Field Division indicated that they had seen the case but that it did not meet the requirements for a federal drug investigation. He indicated that five ounces of marijuana would not even register on the federal level.
Source: Times-Georgian, “Police: ATF takes rapper’s case,” Kelly Quimby, Dec. 28, 2011