What Are the Three Major Types of Drug Crimes?

Drug crimes are serious business in Nevada. Drug-related offenses carry some of the most serious penalties in the state, so conviction on a drug offense can change your life and take away your freedom. If you’ve been charged with one of the three major drug crimes in Nevada – drug possession, drug trafficking, and drug manufacturing – you need to get serious about your defense.

At De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration, we want to help you understand what each drug offense entails, how a conviction for any of these three drug crimes can lead to devastating consequences, and how you can fight back with the help of an experienced defense attorney.

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Drug Crimes in Nevada

Drug Possession

What is drug possession? Nevada law defines drug possession as knowingly having physical control over drugs, narcotics, or illegal substances. Drug possession is often referred to as “simple possession” and is one of the most common drug crimes in the state. Possession with intent to distribute (or sell) is a similar offense with stiffer criminal penalties.

The penalties for drug possession convictions vary depending on the drug involved and how much of the substance was allegedly found on the defendant. Illegal drugs are placed into specific categories depending on their acceptable medical uses and potential for dependency and abuse. The Drug Enforcement Agency separates illegal substances into five different schedules. Schedule I substances have no legitimate medical uses and a high potential for abuse, according to the government agency. Possession of a Schedule I drug carries more substantial penalties than possession of a Schedule V substance. Here are some examples of common drugs and their schedules:

  • Schedule I: Heroin, LSD, and peyote
  • Schedule II: Cocaine, oxycodone, and methamphetamine
  • Schedule III: Ketamine and codeine (less than 90 mg)
  • Schedule IV: Xanax, Soma, Valium, and Ativan
  • Schedule V: Cough medicines with less than 200 mg of codeine

An important note: although Nevada adults 21 and over can lawfully possess 2.5 ounces or less of marijuana, it is still a Schedule I drug under federal law.

Penalties for drug possession in Nevada can include:

Schedule I or II – Less than 14 grams

  • Fines up to $25,000
  • One to four years in prison

Schedule II, IV, V – Less than 28 grams 

  • Fines up to $25,000
  • One to four years in prison

Schedule I or II – At least 14 grams but less than 28 grams

  • Fines up to $10,000
  • One to five years in prison

Schedule III, IV, V – At least 28 grams but less than 200 grams

  • Fines up to $10,000
  • One to five years in prison

Schedule I or II – At least 28 grams but less than 42 grams

  • Fines up to $50,000
  • One to ten years in prison

Schedule III, IV, V – 200 grams or more 

  • Fines up to $50,000
  • One to ten years in prison

Schedule I or II – At least 42 grams but less than 100 grams 

  • Fines up to $50,000
  • Two to 15 years in prison

Most drug possession and possession with intent to distribute violations are felony offenses.

Drug Trafficking and Distribution

Drug trafficking and distribution charges are taken extremely seriously in Nevada and carry significant criminal penalties. Drug trafficking is a broad legal term that Nevada defines as possessing, selling, manufacturing, transporting, or bringing into the state at least 100 grams of a Schedule I or Schedule II drug, flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), or gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB).

There is going to be an assumption on the part of law enforcement that if you have a considerable amount of drugs in your possession beyond what an average person could consume, you intend to traffic those drugs for profit. As with possession, the penalties for drug trafficking and distribution depend on the amount of drugs found and the schedule of the substance.

Low-level trafficking convictions involving at least 100 grams but less than 400 grams of a Schedule I or II substance can result in two to 20 years in prison and fines up to $100,000. High-level trafficking violations involving more than 400 grams of a Schedule I or II substance can result in fines of up to $500,000 and 25 years to life in prison. Drug trafficking offenses are felony offenses.

Drug trafficking cases get significantly more complex when drugs cross state lines, as a state offense can turn into a federal drug offense with stiffer legal consequences and penalties. The type and amount of drug found in certain trafficking operations can also trigger federal charges, even when the substance does not move between states.

The most trafficked drugs in the United States are typically marijuana, crack cocaine, and heroin. Fentanyl is also gaining ground in trafficking organizations.

Drug Manufacturing and Cultivation

Finally, drug manufacturing rounds out the top three major drug crimes. Nevada law prohibits the manufacturing of controlled substances or possession of drug-making chemicals with the intent to manufacture illegal substances. Penalties for drug manufacturing can include three to 15 years in prison and fines up to $100,000. If a manufacturing operation causes a fire or explosion, the penalties increase to 20 years in prison. Methamphetamine is by far the most commonly manufactured drug.

Cannabis may be legal in Nevada, but illegal cannabis growing operations account for most drug cultivation offenses. Adults over 21 can legally grow up to six cannabis plants per person and 12 plants per household if there are no state-licensed marijuana retailers within 25 miles. However, cultivating more than 12 plants is a felony offense. The penalties for possessing more than 12 plants but less than 100 pounds can land an individual in prison for one to four years with fines up to $5,000. Cultivation of more than 100 pounds of marijuana carries a penalty of between 1 and 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Growers can also face criminal consequences for cultivating marijuana within 25 miles of a retail facility, cultivating marijuana plants where they are visible from a public place, or when cultivating on a property not lawfully owned by the grower or without consent from the property owner.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help Now

Drug offenses can yield some of the harshest penalties under Nevada law. If you are charged with any one of the three major types of drug crimes, you need immediate and aggressive legal representation. A drug conviction can significantly change your life and rob you of your freedom. For help, speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney at De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration. Contact our office to confidentially discuss your situation with one of our knowledgeable and supportive criminal defense attorneys.