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October 26, 2015

Defense for Drug Possession

illegal drug possession

Types of Defense for Drug Possession Charges in Henderson, Nevada 

Criminal Defense
*actor portrayal

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released 2014’s “Crime in the United States” this fall, emphasized that “the highest number of arrests were for drug abuse violations” – estimated at more than 1.5 million. Over 83 percent – nearly 1.3 million – were for possession of a controlled substance; less than 17 percent were for the sale or manufacture of a drug. The Western United States had the second-highest regional rate – second only to the South – with more than 340,000 arrests.

Meanwhile, drug laws can be confusing. Nevada neighbor, Oregon, passed laws permitting recreational marijuana use, as did Washington, Colorado, Alaska and our nation’s capital. An arrest for possession of an illegal substance, however, is an expensive mistake that can cost you financially, limit your career options and alter your future. Here’s what you need to know about drug possession charges.

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What must the court prove to convict you for drug possession?

illegal drug possessionUnder Nevada statute NRS 453.336, the court has several burdens that it must prove. The first part of the statute spells out that a person “shall not knowingly or intentionally possess a controlled substance.” It then establishes an exception, specifying “unless the substance was obtained” through legitimate, prescribed medical venues, to include provisions for medical marijuana. The key terms here are “possess,” and “controlled substance,” with caveats on “knowingly” and “intentionally.”

Possession

Even the U.S. Supreme Court has acknowledged that “possession” is an ambiguous word. A court has three options to prove that you had ownership or control of a drug:

1. Actual Possession. If you had the controlled substance on your person – in a pocket or purse, for example – you had physical control and assumed ownership of it.
2. Constructive Possession. If you had no actual physical contact with the substance but knew about and had control over it – in your apartment, car or even a safety deposit box, for example – you had assumed ownership of it.
3. Joint Possession. If you knew about your partner’s possession of the drug and allowed it – for example, you were on your way to a party and knew a passenger in your car was carrying drugs – you might face charges for joint possession.

Controlled Substance

Federal law categorizes controlled substances within schedules, with schedule I covering those substances with the highest potential for abuse and schedule V for those with the lowest. The court must prove that the drug material seized is actually a controlled substance. Keep in mind that marijuana remains by federal law a schedule I drug.

What are the penalties for possession in Henderson

General Statutes

Nevada law is clear about the repercussions for drug possession:

– The first or second offense for drugs on schedules I through V is considered a category E felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in state prison. The court can suspend the sentence, however, and grant probation as it “deems appropriate.” Probation may include a year in the county jail and fines up to $5,000 (NRS 193.130).
– A third or subsequent offense involving drugs on schedules I through IV qualifies as a category D felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in state prison and fines up to $20,000.
– If you have two prior convictions for drug-related arrests anywhere else in the United States and are arrested in Nevada, that also qualifies as a category D felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in state prison and fines up to $20,000.
– The second or subsequent offense for drugs on schedule V is a category D felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in state prison and fines up to $20,000.

Date Rape Drugs

Of particular note is the fact that any possession of substances considered “date rape” drugs – those containing flunitrazepam or gamma-hydroxybutyrate – is considered a category B felony, punishable by 1 to 6 years in state prison, possibly more. Common names for the drugs are Rohypnol – roofies, rophies, and rope – and GHB – G, Liquid G, Geeb, Liquid X, and Liquid E.

Marijuana

MarijuanaFor individuals convicted of possessing 1 ounce or less of marijuana:

– The first offense is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $600 and enrollment in a treatment and rehabilitation program. You will have to pay for the program, and you most likely will have to submit to periodic urinalysis.
– A second offense is also a misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $1,000 and another period of treatment and rehabilitation that you must pay for.
– A third or subsequent offense qualifies as a category E felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in jail and fines up to $5,000.
– Even if it is a first offense, supplying 1 ounce or less to a prisoner is a category B felony, punishable by 1 to 6 years in state prison and fines up to $5,000.

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