Possession of Controlled Substance in Las Vegas, Nevada


Understanding Controlled Substance Charges

Possession of Controlled Substance in Las Vegas, Nevada

This may come as a surprise to many people, tourists in particular, but Nevada has one of the toughest laws in the United States when it comes to distribution or possession of illegal drugs.

If you are facing drug charges in Las Vegas, Nevada, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney you can find, to protect your rights and your future. The drug convictions can stay on your record forever and can affect your ability to find a job or housing.

The tough criminal defense attorney at Heshmati & Associates can represent you. Every month the law firm of Heshmati & Associates handles dozens of drug related cases, from illegal possession of controlled substance, like marijuana, ecstasy or cocaine, to complex drug trafficking charges and everything in between.

Call us at 702-432-1000 to discuss your case.

New Marijuana Laws for 2017

Effective January 1, 2017, adults of 21 years and over with a valid US Government issued ID or international passport will be allowed to purchase from a legal dispensary up to one (1) ounce of marijuana, or up to an eighth of an ounce of concentrated marijuana and consume on private property.

Arrested for Possession of Marijuana in 2016.
Will You Still Be Convicted?

Yes. Because you were arrested in 2016 and the new law takes effect on January 1, 2017, you still will be convicted.

Possession of Controlled Substance: Definition

In Nevada, possession of a controlled substance includes both - prescription drugs and all illegal drugs.

Penalty for Possession of Controlled Substance

The penalty for an unlawful possession of a controlled substance depends on:

  • Drug Weight (Applied to drug trafficking charges only)
  • Drug Schedule
  • Classification of Felony

Possession of Controlled Substance: Drug Weight

Drug weight is broken down into three major categories:

Classification Weight

Group Number Weight
Group 1 At least 4 grams but less than 14 grams
Group 2 At last 14 grams but less than 28 grams
Group 3 Everything over 28 grams

Who Regulates Illegal Drug Schedules??

In the United States, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) regulates illegal drug possession, distribution and manufacturing. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is responsible for the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act.

The DEA organized all illegal drugs into five groups or Schedules. The DEA also maintains all drug's schedules and can add or erase any drug from a certain schedule at any time.

According to the DEA, "a substance need Not be listed as a controlled substance to be treated as a Schedule I substance for criminal prosecution." As a matter of fact, any drug, that is structurally or pharmacologically similar to a Schedule I or Schedule II substance and is not an approved medication in the United States, is considered an illegal drug.

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Possession of Controlled Substance: Drug Schedules

We published here only a partial list of drugs included in Schedule 1 thru 5. For the full list of illegal drugs or if you have a question regarding a specific drug, call 702-432-1000 to speak with a criminal defense attorney directly.

Drug Schedules

Drug Schedules
1 - 5
Drug List
Schedule 1 Drugs
  • Heroin
  • LSD - “Acid”
  • Marijuana (cannabis) - "Grass", "Pot", "Weed"
  • Ecstasy
  • Methaqualon
  • Peyote
Schedule 2 Drugs
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine - “Crystal Meth,” “Speed,” “Crank"
  • Methadone
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
Schedule 3 Drugs
  • Codeine
  • Ketamine
  • Anabolic Steroids
  • Testosterone
Schedule 4 Drugs
  • Xanax
  • Soma
  • Darvon
  • Darvocet
  • Valium
Schedule 5 Drugs
  • Robitussin AC
  • Lomotil
  • Motofen
  • Lyrica
  • Parepectolin

Note: Drugs included in Schedule 3 - 5 are prescription drugs.

Misdemeanor or Felony?

With the exception of marijuana, possession of controlled substance is a felony in Nevada.

Marijuana is now in a transition state from being illegal drug to a prescribed medicine for selected illnesses. Yet, as we write this, possession of marijuana over 1 ounce is still considered illegal in Nevada.

Classification of Felony

Classification of Felony Sentence
Category E Felony Up to 1 year in jail + fine up to $5,000
Category D Felony 1-4 years in Nevada state prison + fine up to $20,000

The penalty for a first and second possession offense is a Category E felony. If the drug is GHB (also known as a "Club Drug" or "Rape Drug"), the sentence may be up to 6 years in prison.

Defenses to a Possession of Controlled Substance Charge

Common defenses for challenging a possession of a controlled substance revolve around challenging the legality of the following:

  • Police stop
  • Search and arrest
  • Search and wiretap warrants
  • Chain of custody of the evidence

There are technical rules that the police must follow to conduct a proper investigation for the possession of a controlled substance case. When these rules are violated a drug possession case can be negotiated with a very favorable outcome, including dismissal, fine, community service and/or probation.

"Chain of Custody" Defense

The "chain of custody" defense deserves special explanation.

The "chain of custody" requires the prosecutor to demonstrate that once seized, the evidence has been under the control (or dominion) of the government and at no time could have been tampered with.

If the criminal defense attorney succeeds in showing that the "chain of custody" rules weren’t followed and somebody tampered with the evidence, the evidence can become inadmissible in court.

In Las Vegas, the attorneys often see "chain of custody" issues in cases involving casino security. For example, if the casino security didn’t follow the proper legal procedures to protect evidence, the judge may rule that the prosecutor has insufficient evidence to allow the case to continue and dismiss the case.

If you have any questions about "chain of custody" procedures in Las Vegas, call us 702-432-1000.

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What Are the Penalties for Possession of Heroin?

Heroin is a schedule 1 substance and in Nevada treated as a felony.

What Is the Drug Charge for a Group of People?

When groups of people are charged with drug related offenses, they can each individually be charged with conspiracy as well.

Drug charges for multiple people are very fact intensive. Important facts include:

  • Who lives in the home,
  • Where was each individual in the home when the police entered and
  • What is the relationship of the individuals in the home.

Other facts that seem trivial may also be very important.

The outcome for drug cases often turns on search and seizure issues that are very fact specific. Call us at 702-432-1000 with any questions you may have.

Possession of a Controlled Substance 1-4 Grams:
At What Category Does it Fall?

Possession charges for controlled substances depend on the category of the substance. For most drugs however, simple possession charges for first offenses are Category E felonies, which are minor felonies.

Stressful Professions & Drug Crimes

In the last few years the law firm of Heshmati & Associates represented many professionals including: doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, corporate executives and sometimes even other attorneys accused of illegal possession of drugs.

Cases involving professionals, especially those in the medical field, can be extremely challenging. We know a medical professional cannot under any circumstances have a conviction for a drug charge. It will create employment problems and licensing problems.

We have experience dealing with the medical licensing agencies and boards. We will communicate with the license agency in order to fulfill your self-reporting obligation.

Drug Crime Attorney Can Help

The law firm of Heshmati & Associates defended hundreds of people charged with unlawful possession of controlled substance.

Questions? Call us at 702-432-1000 to speak with a drug crime attorney directly. If you are arrested for illegal possession of controlled substance or facing any other drug related charges, we can help.

Our clients live in Las Vegas, Henderson, Laughlin, Mesquite, North Las Vegas, and throughout Nevada. We also represent tourists arrested for illegal drug possession in Las Vegas hotels, casinos, or nightclubs.

Initial consultation is always free and confidential.

Payment plans are available.

Last updated on September 20, 2017.

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Contact Us


Phone: 702-432-1000

Fax: 702-446-6776

Heshmati & Associates
515 S. 7th Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101-6903

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