There are two main forms of drug possession charges in Nevada: simple possession and possession with intent to sell or distribute. Simply put, simple possession means knowingly carrying, holding, or knowing the location of a controlled substance, while possession with intent means unlawfully possessing a drug for sale.
Although “intent to sell” could be difficult to prove because the prosecutor cannot get inside the mind of the defendant, intent must be proven by circumstantial evidence. Common examples include possessing a significantly large amount that is not considered for only personal use, possessing large amounts of money, the presence of individual bags and other packaging materials, and correspondence from customers on a cellphone.
Since possession with intent is more serious than simple possession, it is associated with harsher penalties in Nevada. For instance, possession of less than 14 grams of a Schedule I or II substance (e.g., cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, methamphetamine, etc.) is a Category E felony, while possession of any amount of such narcotics with intent to sell or distribute is a Category D felony.
Individuals who are charged with simple possession and plead guilty or no contest will often be granted no jail time and a “deferral of judgment,” which means the case will ultimately be dismissed if defendants complete certain sentencing terms, such as drug testing, rehabilitation, and fines. Those who are charged with possession with intent will not be eligible for such penalties, but they can serve up to four years in a Nevada state prison instead.