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Las Vegas Criminal Defense

Las Vegas Drug Crime Lawyer

While Las Vegas has the reputation for being a party-oriented city, the state of Nevada takes drug crimes very seriously. Nevada has some of the toughest drug possession, distribution and trafficking laws of any state in the country. Clark County police are extremely vigilant, looking to bust locals and tourists alike for taking part in “Sin City” festivities. Skilled legal help is essential for anyone arrested for a drug crime in Las Vegas to avoid the harshest penalties and find the best defenses or deals available under the circumstances. Contact our experienced Las Vegas drug crime lawyer today for information or assistance.

Possession of a Controlled Substance

Possession of narcotics for personal use is considered a less serious crime than other charges such as possession with intent to sell or drug trafficking, but it can still lead to fines and jail time and can have lasting effects on other facets of life such as insurance, employability, and citizenship. The severity of the punishments and the type of deal available varies depending on the amount possessed and the seriousness (the “schedule”) of the drug. With effective legal help, first-time offenders with no criminal history can often get possession charges reduced or dropped entirely by going through drug treatment programs.

Marijuana (aka cannabis) possession for individual use is now legal in Nevada, for amounts up to one ounce. Users must be 21 or over and can only smoke in their private homes. Marijuana is, moreover, still considered a schedule I drug. Possession of more than one ounce, as well as unlicensed trafficking or sale, can lead to severe penalties.

Besides marijuana, some of the most frequent arrests in Las Vegas involve the alleged possession of cocaine or prescription pills, which are generally schedule II drugs.

Possession With Intent to Sell

Possession with intent to sell carries heavy penalties including significant prison terms. Nevada prosecutors must prove that a defendant actually possessed the drugs (i.e. that they had some sort of control over the drug), and that they actually intended to sell. Intent to sell can be proven based on, for example, how the drugs were packaged and the amount possessed. Repeat offenders arrested with schedule I drugs can face up to 15 years in prison if intent to sell is proven.

Sale of a Controlled Substance

Sale of any controlled substance in Nevada is illegal, including the unlicensed sale of marijuana or prescription drugs. Particularly in Las Vegas, arrests for drug sales are extremely common, and undercover police often roam The Strip looking for sellers trying to make a deal. Penalties for sale of a controlled substance differ depending on the schedule of the drug, the amount involved, and whether the defendant has a criminal history.

Transporting or Trafficking a Controlled Substance

Nevada punishes the transportation of controlled substances along with sale. Depending on the quantity of drugs involved, the crime may be classified as drug trafficking. Defendants charged with transporting under four grams of a schedule I drug or under 28 grams of a schedule II drug generally face the same penalties as those charged with sale.

Trafficking applies to schedule I and II drugs when the amount involved is great enough. For most schedule I drugs, the threshold is 4 grams. For schedule II drugs, the threshold is 28 grams. Trafficking charges can apply to marijuana when the charges apply to 50 or more pounds of marijuana or 1 or more pounds of concentrated cannabis.

Nevada Drug Crime Penalties

If you are in town for a weekend with friends on the Las Vegas Strip or are entertaining family members at your home in Las Vegas, it is important to recognize that drug crimes carry severe penalties in the state of Nevada. While it might look like other people on the Strip or in nightclubs and bars across the city are using recreational drugs in a carefree manner, even minor drug possession charges can result in serious repercussions.

And do not assume that just because recreational marijuana is now legal to buy for adults aged 21 and older that you can consume it outside a casino or elsewhere on the Strip. To be sure, CBS News recently emphasized that Nevada law requires legally purchased marijuana to be consumed in a private residence. In other words, it is unlawful to consume marijuana in a public place, including your hotel, your rental car, on a sidewalk on the Strip, or in a casino.

In order to understand the penalties for various drug crime penalties, we will go through the variety of drug crime charges under Nevada law (Nevada Rev. Stat. §§ 453.011 to 453.730) and their associated penalties upon conviction.

Types of Drug Crime Charges in Las Vegas, Nevada

It is important to keep in mind that there are different laws for different substances. For example, charges related to marijuana tend to be less severe than charges related to other drugs like methamphetamine. These categories include:

  • Possession;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Selling;
  • Trafficking;
  • Transporting;
  • Drug counterfeit charges;
  • Drug paraphernalia charges; and
  • Maintaining a drug house.

Penalties for Drug Offense Convictions

The potential penalties for drug crime charges depend on multiple factors, including but not limited to:

  • The category of the offense;
  • Type of drug; and
  • Whether it is a first-time or subsequent offense.

Drug crime convictions can result in anything from a Category E felony (common for possession-related offenses) to a Category A felony (for drug crimes that result in another person’s death):

  • Category A felony: life in prison with a 10-year minimum for parole or, in some circumstances, 40 years in prison with a 10-year minimum for parole, and a mandatory fine of up to $50,000 (example includes allowing a child to be present where controlled substances are manufactured or sold and substantial bodily harm or death results);
  • Category B felony: anywhere from 1 to 15 years of imprisonment with no probation and no possibility of a suspending sentence, and a fine of up to $100,000 (examples include importing or selling schedule I or II drugs up to a third or subsequent offense of importing or selling schedule III, IV, or V drugs);
  • Category C felony: 1 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 (example includes keeping or maintaining a drug house);
  • Category D felony: 1 to 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 (example includes unlawful possession of a controlled substance by a prisoner);
  • Category E felony: 1 to 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 (examples include a first offense of possession of a schedule V drug and manufacture or possession of drug paraphernalia).

Marijuana-related offenses begin with a misdemeanor that is punishable with a fine of up to $600. For each subsequent offense, the penalties increase. A fourth or subsequent marijuana violation is punishable as a Category E felony.

Can the Police Search My Car for Drugs?

Nevada Criminal Defense Attorney Assisting Clients in Las Vegas

Motorists have protections against unlawful searches of their cars, including for drugs. If your vehicle was searched by the police and they found drugs, your Fourth Amendment rights may have been violated. You deserve to have an aggressive yet compassionate Nevada criminal defense lawyer on your side.

Protections Against Illegal Search and Seizure Under the Fourth Amendment

Every person in Nevada–whether a resident or a tourist in Las Vegas–has protections against unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. What this means is that the police must have what is known as “reasonable suspicion” in order to stop your car. And the police cannot lawfully search your car unless they have lawfully stopped your car. While reasonable suspicion can seem subjective (meaning that it depends largely upon whether the police officer believed she or he had reasonable suspicion for stopping the car), it is important for all motorists to know that a law enforcement official is not permitted to stop your car unless there is reasonable suspicion. Keep in mind that if you violate a traffic law, this give the police a reason to stop the car.

Now onto whether a search is lawful. Often, the police might ask you if they can search your car once you have been stopped. You have the right to say no—or to decline—the search. If you agree to a search, then the police are allowed to search your car for drugs.

If you say no when asked if the police can search your car, or if the police do not ask, then they can only search your car if there is what is known as “probable cause.” The police must see something that leads them to believe that there could be drugs in your car, giving them lawful authority to search.

Possible Outcomes When the Police Search Your Car for Drugs

If the police do search your car and find drugs or drug-related materials or paraphernalia, you could be charged with any of the following types of offenses:

  • Drug possession: this is typically the least serious type of drug crime, and it involves a situation in which a person has a controlled substance in his or her possession or under his or her control;
  • Drug trafficking or selling: it is unlawful to transport or sell controlled substances, and this offense typically is charged in connection with a possession offense;
  • Drug manufacturing: it is unlawful to manufacture controlled substances, while includes growing drugs;
  • Drug counterfeits: it is unlawful to sell any substance as if it is a controlled substance—in other words, a counterfeit substance (such as selling oregano as if it were marijuana); and
  • Drug paraphernalia: not only is it unlawful to possess, transport, sell, or manufacture a controlled substance, but it is also unlawful to own certain devices or tools that are designed for the use or manufacture of drugs (such as scales, pipes, and other instruments).

Get Fast, Aggressive Help with Las Vegas Drug Charges

Drug arrests should be taken very seriously and dealt with by a compassionate, skilled and aggressive Las Vegas drug crime lawyer. There are likely defenses in your favor or options to obtain a favorable result that a knowledgeable and experienced defense lawyer will know. In Las Vegas, call the criminal lawyer Adrian Lobo at Lobo Law for immediate assistance after a drug arrest.

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