Selling a Controlled Substance

Sale of controlled substances in Las Vegas, Nevada, involves the exchange of an illegal drug for cash or offering to sell drugs. If you have been arrested and charged with selling a controlled substance or you are accused of intending to sell, then contact The Law Offices of Martin Hart to receive professional legal representation.

Nevada’s Law on Sale of a Controlled Substance

Selling drugs is defined as receiving money or something valuable in a swap for controlled substances. Offering or agreeing to sell drugs is also in violation with section 453.321 of the Nevada Revised Statutes, even if the transaction did not happen. Selling a controlled substance includes activities such as manufacturing, bartering, distributing, giving away, importing, transporting, exchanging, and delivering.

Drug sales can only turn into a trafficking offense under two circumstances:

  • If the transaction entails a minimum of four grams of a schedule I narcotic. Sale of drugs that Gamma-hydroxybutyrate or Flunitrazepam is a component is also considered trafficking. The typical schedule I narcotics include heroin, LSD, GHB, peyote, ecstasy, PCP, or marijuana.
  • If the sale entails a minimum of 28 grams of drugs classified under schedule II narcotics, then it is charged as drug trafficking. Cocaine, Methadone, Oxycontin, Ritalin, Adderall, Dexedrine, or Demerol all fall under the schedule II narcotic group.

Therefore, for drugs classified in schedule III, schedule IV and schedule V cannot be charged as drug trafficking regardless of the amount. These are drugs that have currently been accepted for medical purposes, such as treatments in the United States. Abuse of these drugs may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or a high psychological dependence. The typical schedule III drugs in Nevada include Anabolic steroids, Testosterone, Tylenol, Codeine, and Vicodin. In Nevada, the prevalent schedule IV drugs are Xanax, valium, and Ambien. Robitussin AC, Motofen, and Lomotil are the usual schedule V drugs in Nevada.

Many drug sale arrests are as a result of the arresting officer witnessing the exchange of drugs for money. In some cases, the police might receive a tip that a drug sale is ongoing, and they may set up secret surveillance, which is known as an observation post. The police may also organize string operations known as controlled buys where undercover police communicate with a suspected drug dealer to schedule a drug sale.

What Next, if you are Arrested For Selling Drugs

Staying calm during a drug arrest may seem impossible. Still, you should avoid an emotional outburst that can also result in other criminal allegations, such as resisting arrest or obstruction of justice. You will get one phone call after you arrive at the station. You can contact your attorney if you have one, or you can contact a  friend or a family member to search for a lawyer to represent you.

You can avoid remaining in your jail cell amid your entire trial by requesting that the court grant you bail at the time your arraignment. At the appearance, the judge may grant or deny you bail. If denied, you can still stay in constant communication with your attorney. While in the jail cell, you should avoid providing any information about the case to the police as you have the right to remain silent, as stated in the US constitution's Fifth Amendment.

Penalties for Selling Drugs Charges in Nevada

You can receive harsh penalties for the crime of selling a controlled substance. The punishment will depend on whether your crime is charged as a state or federal felony. If the drug sale took place on federal lands such as a military base or a national park or the drug sale involved crossing international borders or state lines, then federal laws apply. Your case can also depend on the seriousness of the crime or if you have any prior charges. If you are a first-time offender, you can receive probation instead of serving time in prison.

For first-time offenders of the charge of selling schedule I and schedule II drugs, the case falls under category B felonies. If found guilty, you can receive prison time of 1 to 6 years in a State Prison and a fine of up to $20,000. If the judge accords your probation, you can be able to serve your sentence out of prison. While serving your probation, you will have to comply with the court's probation conditions. The conditions include requirements such as making regular reports to a probation officer, submitting to random drug tests, and allowing random searches. You may also be required to find a job or maintain one and perform community services.

If you are a second time offender, your case will be charged as a category B felony. You will receive a sentence of 2 to 10 years in Nevada state prison and a maximum fine of $20,000. You may also get probation instead of serving time in prison, and you will be required to meet the probation conditions. If you violate your probation conditions, the court may extend your probation, revoke your probation and order you to spend time in jail. The judge will consider factors such as the seriousness of the violation, aggravating circumstances, and a history of prior offenses.

For first-time offenders of the charge of selling schedule III, schedule IV and schedule V, the case is tried as a category C felony. You may receive a prison time of 1 to 5 years and a levy of up to $10,000 in fines. You may also be granted probation to avoid prison time.

If you are a second time offender, your case falls under category B felony offender. If found guilty, you will face prison time of 2 to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000. If you are a third or subsequent offender, you will be charged under category B felony. You can receive prison time of 3 to 15 years and a maximum fine of $20,000.

Your prison time will double if you sold drugs at either of the places mentioned below:

  • If the drug sale was within 1,000 feet of an educational institution, park, playground, pool, arcade, or a recreational center
  • If the drug sale was in proximity of 1,000 feet from a school bus stop and the time of the activity was one hour before commencing of school routines until an hour after completion of all school activities
  • If the drug sale took place at the campus grounds of the Nevada System of Higher Education, you will receive extra prison time

For non-citizens, selling drugs is a deportable offense, which means if you are found guilty, the United States will deport you once the sentence is over. You can be a visa holder or a lawful permanent resident, but you will still be deported for the crime. 

What the Prosecution Must Prove

For you to be convicted of selling drugs, the prosecution needs to prove either of the following without reasonable doubt:

  • The trial needs to show that you were involved in the selling of illegal drugs or you were offering to sell the drugs. The prosecution should demonstrate your involvement in importing, transporting, exchanging, bartering, supplying, or manufacturing of the drugs.
  • If you are a pharmacist with a license to legally dispense controlled substances, then the prosecution needs to show that you prescribed or administered the legal drugs in a manner outside the law. They should demonstrate that you were involved in the illegal selling of legal drugs.
  • If you were prescribed medication and the medication is found in another person's possession. The prosecution should prove that even though you are legally entitled to possess and use the prescribed medication, you made an illegal sale to the other person.

Common Defenses to a Selling Drugs Charge

There are two commonly used defenses to fight drug sale charges that an experienced criminal defense attorney can apply for your situation.

The defense can argue that the police entrapped the defendant. Entrapment is when the police tricks or force you to commit a crime. Although it is uncommon for police to surpass their bounds and trap suspected drug dealers, if it happens in your case, then it can result in a not guilty verdict. The state uses the subjective or objective standard to assess an entrapment defense. On the objective standard, the jurors decide whether the police officer's actions would have induced you to commit a crime. The subjective standard refers to the jurors deciding whether you are responsible for your actions in committing the crime regardless of the police officer's inducements.

Another commonly used strategy is the violation of the Fourth Amendment by the police. According to the United States constitution, everyone has a right to be secure in their properties and should not be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures. If the police conduct an illegal search on your property without any probable cause or a warrant, then you can ask the court to disregard any evidence found from the search. If the court grants your motion to suppress the evidence, the prosecution will have a weak case, which will result in charges being dropped.

However, it is essential to understand that Nevada state prosecutors take drug sale allegations seriously and will not dismiss the charges unless there is insufficient evidence. If the prosecutors start to be unsure of whether the jury will convict you, then they may propose to cut down the charges or clear you of all charges.

How to Acquire a Nevada Record Seal

Once you have been convicted, you have to wait five years from the time the case ends to get your record sealed. When your Nevada criminal record is sealed, you will no longer have past arrests and convictions appearing in your background checks. If your case gets dismissed or you are acquitted, you can petition for a record seal immediately. The record seal will restore your right to vote, serve on a jury, and hold office. You can also legally deny during an interview or under oath of ever having been arrested or convicted.

Other Crimes Related to Selling Drugs

If your case does not have evidence of you selling or offering to sell the drugs, then you can be charged with possession of a controlled substance. Under section 453.336 of the Nevada Revised Statutes, possession is the least severe drug offense. The statute states that a person shall not knowingly or intentionally possess a controlled substance unless it was obtained directly from a prescription. Possession is prosecuted as a felony, and first-time offenders, you may avoid conviction by completing a drug court or class. Marijuana use for recreational purposes is permitted by the Nevada law but only in private residences of adults above 21 years.

You can also be charged with possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell. The NRC 453.337 and 453.338 states that it is unlawful for an individual to possess a controlled substance for sale. The intention is charged as a felony, and for a first-time conviction, you can get probation instead of prison time.

The prosecution can only prove you had the intention of selling drugs found in your possession if any of the following factors were present:

  • If the drugs you had was more than a standard supply for an individual
  • If weapons were also found in your possession as drug dealers are considered dangerous
  • If you were arrested at a location where drug deals usually happen
  • If you had materials aiding the selling of drugs such as small bags or containers

If other items such as crack pipes or syringes are found in your possession, you can also be charged with selling drug paraphernalia. Although the crime is a minor felony, the penalties can become severe if you sold them to a child. Drug paraphernalia in Nevada is any equipment or material with the purpose of either manufacturing, storing, or ingestion of illegal drugs.

Find a Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me

Drug charges are considered serious offenses that can negatively impact your possibility of getting a job, immigration status, and limit your civil rights such as gun ownership and a right to vote. It is critical to get in touch with an experienced lawyer to get your charges reduced or even dismissed. Contact the top-rated criminal lawyers from The Law Offices of Martin Hart at 702-380-4278 to get an attorney with the trial skills to tackle the most challenging charges.