What is the difference between felony and misdemeanor drug charges?

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2023 | Criminal defense |

Like all crimes, drug charges fall into two main categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Although both charges are serious, they have distinct differences.

Therefore, these are the differences between felony and misdemeanor drug charges.


State drug laws differ in their classification of drug crimes. However, they have some similarities. For example, the amount of controlled substances suspects have in their possession often determines whether the charges are felonies or misdemeanors. In addition, felonies often involve controlled substances in type 1 and 2 groups.

Distribution is a key factor as well. Felony charges involve the intent to distribute or proof that distribution has occurred. In addition, the production or growth of controlled substances, except in states where it is legal, is a felony.

Felony drug convictions often involve high fines, prison time and the loss of voting and firearm ownership rights. Successive convictions increase these penalties.


In states where marijuana is illegal, suspects may face misdemeanors if they have less than four ounces on them or within their possession or property. They may also face misdemeanor charges if they have drug paraphernalia. Finally, these individuals may have controlled substances in type 3 or 4 groups.

Misdemeanor convictions result in fines of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail. Successive convictions may increase these penalties.

Federal drug crimes

Individuals who traffic, transport drugs across state lines, import, or use the US Postal Service to ship drugs can face federal charges. The federal government also has control over federal or government land, so any drug crime on these lands can result in federal charges.

Convictions may result in up to life imprisonment depending on their severity.

States take drug charges very seriously, and suspects could face severe penalties. However, knowing the distinctions can help suspects prepare their cases.