Being charged with drug sales or manufacturing is a severe crime, especially if federal authorities are involved. You need legal assistance from a skilled drug crimes lawyer if you have been accused of selling or manufacturing drugs in Las Vegas. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty and deserve to fight back for the best possible outcome.
At The Law Offices of Martin Hart, you can find the committed and experienced defense you require. We understand that your future is lined with criminal charges hanging on your neck, and we can protect your interests. Call us today to start the journey of regaining your freedom.
An Overview of the Sale or Manufacturing of Drugs in Nevada
The crime of unlawfully selling drugs is described under NRS (Nevada Revised Statute) 453.321. Selling drugs involves exchanging narcotics for money, property, or valuable items. If you offer to sell controlled substances, you will also have violated this law, even if drugs or money do not exchange hands. Controlled substances include illegal drugs and prescription drugs.
Under Nevada law, you can face drug sale charges merely based on the intent to sell, but for you to violate the drug sale law, you must:
- Possess a controlled substance
- Have the intention to distribute or sell the drugs
Although proving drug possession can be easy, demonstrating the intention to sell the drugs can be challenging. Prevalent instances may include the authorities pulling you over based on a profile and could ask to search your car. If they find narcotics, they might try accusing you of intending to sell them based on the following factors:
- Signs of drug possession with the intent to sell, the presence of bundles, balloons, or bindles
- If you give away or transport a drug
- If you are in a place where drug dealers or users frequent
- If you have a significant amount of drugs
- If you have weapons such as firearms
Other Ways Through Which Police and Prosecutors Build a Drug Sales Case
Drug sale investigations often entail sting operations— attempts to arrest individuals committing offenses, usually through deceptive ways. Some drug sale arrests occur because law enforcement officers gain info from a secret informant.
However, in most cases, informants, possibly working in return for leniency or money, give authorities misleading or false information. Therefore, if your case involved an informant, you, with help from your attorney, may file a motion to disclose the informant's identity. You could then contest the prosecution's argument that the court informant is a reliable source.
Another prevalent way of collecting evidence for drug sales is through surveillance or observation posts. These refer to areas where police officers erect a camp to watch suspected controlled substance activities, usually close to a suspect's business or home or where drugs are generally sold.
Undercover controlled purchases are another prevalent way of making drug sale arrests. This can happen both over the internet and in person. In either of these cases, a police officer disguises themself as a seller or buyer of drugs, hoping to entice the target into conduct that can warrant a drug sales arrest.
Drug sale is different from drug trafficking. It qualifies as drug trafficking if the drug sale involves not less than 100g of a schedule 1 or 2 controlled substance or a controlled substance containing GHB or flunitrazepam. Thus, you will not have committed drug trafficking if you sell schedule 3, 4, or 5 drugs, regardless of the amount. Drug trafficking also has harsher consequences than drug sales. Judges rarely agree to probation in trafficking convictions unless law enforcement officers decide to use you as an informant.
Penalties for Drug Sales
The consequences of selling controlled substances in Nevada vary based on the drug type and whether or not the accused has prior convictions. The judge can grant you probation instead of prison if it is your first violation.
Selling Schedule 1 narcotics like LSD or peyote or Schedule 2 controlled substances like codeine, GHB, or meth is a category C felony for the first offense. The penalties include a prison term between one and five years and a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars. The judge could grant a probation sentence rather than jail.
The second offense for selling Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 narcotics is a Category B felony. A conviction is punishable by a prison sentence between two and ten years and a fine not exceeding 20,000 dollars.
The third/subsequent offense for selling Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 controlled substances is a Category B felony. If convicted, you will face between three and fifteen years of prison sentence and a fine of up to twenty thousand dollars.
Selling Schedule 3 narcotics like Vicodin, Schedule 4 controlled substances, such as Valium or Xanax, or Schedule 5 narcotics like Robitussin AC is a Category D felony for the first violation. A conviction carries between one and four years of prison sentence and a maximum fine of five thousand dollars. The judge can agree to grant you probation rather than a prison sentence.
The second offense for selling Schedule 3, 4, or 5 drugs is a Category C felony. The punishment upon a conviction includes between one and five years of a prison sentence and a maximum fine of ten thousand dollars.
The third and subsequent offense for selling Schedule 3, 4, and 5 drugs is a category B felony. You will face between two and ten years of prison time and a maximum fine of fifteen thousand dollars upon a conviction.
The prison term will double if the sale occurred at any of these locations:
- Within 1,000ft of a school bus stop from an hour before school starts until an hour after school ends during scheduled school days.
- Within 1,000ft of campus, school ground, park, playground, arcade, recreational center, or pool.
- On a campus of the Nevada System of Higher Education.
Apart from selling controlled substances, NRS 453.321 also prohibits illegal drug manufacturing. You commit a drug manufacturing crime when you participate in any of the processes of drug manufacturing, including deriving, processing, preparing, producing, compounding, or converting controlled substances.
Narcotic manufacturing charges do not only apply to people who physically produce drugs. Instead, anybody can face drug manufacturing charges if involved in any part of the narcotic manufacturing process. For example, if you sell equipment or materials used for manufacturing, you may also face drug manufacturing charges. In certain cases, offering to participate in drug manufacturing can also lead to criminal charges.
Like most drug offenses, the penalties of drug manufacturing vary in severity based on the case facts. The judge considers the type of controlled substance you were making and the quantity you were producing. If found guilty of drug manufacturing, the penalties can include a maximum of six years of a prison sentence and one hundred thousand dollars in fines.
Other acts criminalized under NRS 453.321 are importation, transportation, exchange, bartering, supplying dispensation, prescription, administration, and giving away a controlled substance. Thus, merely producing narcotics for own use or giving away drugs can be penalized just as severely as selling or manufacturing drugs in Nevada.
Immigration Consequences of a Drug Sale or Manufacturing Conviction
Selling controlled substances is considered a deportable crime. Therefore, if you are a green card holder or visa holder and are convicted, you face removal or inadmissibility from the United States.
If you are an immigrant accused of selling drugs, you should hire an aggressive lawyer who can fight to have the charges dropped or lowered to a non-deportable crime. Otherwise, the United States may deport you once you have served your sentence and mark you inadmissible.
Is a Charge Dismissal Possible?
Nevada prosecuting attorneys treat drug sale cases very seriously. Usually, they will not drop the charges unless they have insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction. Thus, your lawyer's work is to prove to the prosecution that its case is weak and cannot obtain a conviction when it goes to trial. If the prosecution starts doubting that a judge or jury would find you guilty, it may agree to lower charges or drop them altogether.
Sealing a Drug Sale or Manufacturing Conviction Record
If found guilty of selling or manufacturing controlled substances, the law requires you to wait for five years from the conclusion of your case to request the sealing of your record. However, you can request a record sealing immediately if your charges are dismissed.
If arrested for a drug crime, we advise you to file a petition in court requesting record sealing sooner. Failure to which your case will appear on criminal background checks. This appearance might disqualify you from particular jobs.
Defending Against Drug Sale or Manufacturing Charges
Since drug sales or manufacturing consequences are steep, having an experienced attorney by your side can assist you in defending against these life-changing accusations. Although defenses usually vary based on the case facts, common strategies your lawyer could provide are:
Perhaps the police mistook you for the actual culprit, or you were wrongly picked out of a lineup. There are several ways your lawyer can cast doubt on your guilt by arguing mistaken Identity.
Most drug sales or manufacturing charges involve sting operations, which the law allows. Although, the judge should drop the charges if the authorities went too far into entrapment. The entrapment defense applies to the police officers' overbearing conduct. Entrapment involves authorities using harassment, pressure, flattery, threats, or fraud to convince you to commit a crime. The police officer's conduct has to be more than an offer or suggestion. It must escalate to a level that would be hard for any reasonable individual to refuse.
You can argue entrapment as a defense, provided you prove you acted illegally only because the authorities lured or coerced you.
Police misconduct in a drug manufacturing or sales case could include:
- Falsifying the probable cause that resulted in the arrest
- Lying about where they found the drug
- Planting evidence
- Using unwarranted force to draw a confession and other evidence
Illegal Search and Seizure
Most arrests for the manufacturing or sale of drugs arise from unlawful search and seizure, like:
- Searching your property or person without a legal search warrant
- Illegally arresting and searching your person with no probable cause
- Exceeding the search warrant's scope, for example, the police searching your vehicle when the search warrant only permitted a search of your office.
California law states that the police can only seize property or search you if they have a valid search warrant. If they do not have a warrant, they should have a valid excuse for lacking one.
If the police obtain evidence through illegal search and seizure, your lawyer can bring a motion to suppress. If you win the motion, the judge can exclude the illegally-obtained evidence from the case, meaning the charges could be dismissed or reduced.
Lack of Intention
This defense is specific to drug sale charges. If charged with offering to sell an illegal drug, then a lack of intention may be a legal defense to your charges. This is because you should not be convicted of this crime without the intent to carry out your offer.
You Did Not Participate or Offer to Participate In the Manufacturing
If you were simply present at the drug manufacturing site but did not assist in making the drugs, you should not be convicted for manufacturing drugs. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time is not an offense.
Find a Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
The war on controlled substances sends innocent persons to prison every year in Las Vegas. The lawyer you choose for legal representation can make the difference between incarceration and freedom if charged with a drug crime. Our experienced lawyers at The Law Offices of Martin Hart know the tactics to employ in fighting drug crime cases. They collect evidence of illegal searches, entrapment, or police misconduct and analyze it.
If the police violated your rights while obtaining evidence, we would fight to ensure the judge does not consider that evidence during the trial. Our work is to weaken the prosecutor's case, and our clients usually benefit from the reduction in punishment, reduction in charges, and dismissals we obtain. Call us at 702-380-4278 today to set up a free consultation.