Being arrested for possession of drugs can lead to uncertainty and worry because of how complicated the laws regarding drugs are. There are many factors that law enforcement will consider when deciding what to charge someone with, such as what type of drug they had, how much of it they possessed, and where it was found. Possessing controlled substances can lead to a felony charge. Felony convictions are life changing, but many people have been able to avoid them with a strong legal team and good defense.
What Is a Controlled Substance?
The state of Nevada has 5 groups of controlled substances which are organized based on how likely the drug is to be abused. These groups are referred to as “schedules,” and they are determined by the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy. Examples of drug schedules and which drugs they contain are as follows:
- Schedule 1: Schedule 1 drugs are drugs with the most potential to be abused. These drugs do not currently have an accepted medical use. They are considered to be highly addictive. Cocaine, methamphetamine, DMT, and LSD are examples of Schedule 1 drugs in Nevada.
- Schedule 2: Schedule 2 drugs still have a high potential for abuse, but some of them have accepted medical uses. These drugs are also very addictive, both psychologically and physically. Some examples of Schedule 2 drugs are Oxycodone, Demerol, Morphine, and Vyvanse.
- Schedule 3: Schedule 3 drugs are still abused, but at a lesser degree when compared to Schedules 1 and 2. They are considered to have a moderate chance of physical addiction, but a higher chance of psychological addiction. These are drugs that could be prescribed by a doctor, such as ketamine.
- Schedule 4: Schedule 4 drugs are commonly used in medical settings and have a generally low chance of being abused. These are drugs that are prescribed by healthcare providers on a common basis, such as Tramadol and Xanax. If someone does abuse a Schedule 4 drug, their chances of addiction are lesser than if they abused a Schedule 3 drug.
- Schedule 5: Schedule 5 drugs are also commonly used by healthcare providers, and some of them can even be purchased over the counter. These drugs have a limited chance of causing addiction. An example of a schedule 5 drug would be cough medicine with a small amount of codeine in it.
Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance
Possession of a controlled substance is a crime that is committed when someone is in possession or constructive possession of a controlled substance. This crime only applies to people who do not have legitimate prescriptions for the medication they are caught with. Possession of a controlled substance will lead to a felony charge, but the specific felony a person is charged with depends on factors such as whether they have prior drug convictions, how much of the drug they had, and more.
Possession of a Schedule 1 or 2 Substance
The penalties for possessing a Schedule 1 or 2 substance are as follows:
- Less than 14 grams: Anyone convicted of possessing less than 14 grams of a Schedule 1 or 2 substance will be charged with a Category E felony. They will receive a prison sentence between 1 and 4 years long as well as a fine up to $5,000.
- Between 14 and 28 grams: Anyone convicted with more than 14 but less than 28 grams of a Schedule 1 or 2 substance will be charged with a Category C felony. They will receive a sentence of a prison sentence between 1 and 10 years long as well as a fine up to $10,000.
- Between 28 and 42 grams: Anyone convicted of possessing more than 28 but less than 42 grams of a Schedule 1 or 2 substance will be charged with a Category B felony. The prison time associated with this crime is the same as the Category C charge, but the fine can be as much as $50,000.
- Between 42 and 100 grams: Possessing more than 42 but less than 100 grams of a Schedule 1 or 2 substance is considered high-level possession, and the penalties are severe. The prison sentence associated with this crime is at least 2 years long but cannot be more than 15 years long.
Note that penalties are enhanced for further convictions for less than 14 grams of a Schedule 1 or 2 controlled substance. Anyone convicted for a third time will be charged with a Category D felony. The enhanced penalties include a larger potential fine of up to $20,000.
Possession of a Schedule 3, 4, or 5 Substance
The penalties for possessing a Schedule 3, 4, or 5 substance are as follows:
- Less than 28 grams: Possessing less than 28 grams of a Schedule 3, 4, or 5 substance is a Category E felony. The potential penalties include a prison sentence between 1 and 4 years long as well as a fine of up to $5,000.
- Between 28 and 200 grams: Possessing more than 28 but less than 200 grams of a Schedule 3, 4, or 5 substance is a Category C felony. The potential penalties include a prison sentence between 1 and 5 years long as well as a fine not to exceed $10,000.
- More than 200 grams: Possessing more than 200 grams of a Schedule 3, 4, or 5 substance is a Category B felony. The potential penalties include a prison sentence between 1 and 10 years as well as a fine of up to $50,000.
There are enhanced penalties for anyone convicted for possession of less than 28 grams of a Schedule 3, 4, or 5 substances for a third time. The crime becomes a Category D felony.
Actual vs. Constructive Possession
Many people think of possession as having illegal drugs on hand at the time of an arrest. However, there are different forms of possession a person can be charged with. When someone has physical control over a substance or has it on their person, they can be charged with “actual possession.” On the other hand, a person who is not in actual possession of a substance but knows how to obtain it at any given time could be considered in “constructive possession” of it. For example, someone who has drugs in a container in their dresser would be in constructive possession of those drugs.
In some cases, joint possession is applicable. Joint possession occurs when a substance can be attributed to more than one person. For example, if someone takes drugs out of their pocket and hands them to a friend, they could both be charged with possession.
Defenses for Drug Possession Charges
A drug possession charge can change someone’s life, especially if it results in a conviction. The legal penalties are severe, but there are social penalties as well. Experienced legal representation can help someone accused of drug possession by crafting a strong defense on their behalf. Some common defenses used in drug possession cases are:
- Unlawful search and seizure: Law enforcement officers are only allowed to search a person’s body or property under specific circumstances. If a cop searches someone’s vehicle without permission and without a reasonable suspicion, the evidence they find might not be usable in court. If a law enforcement officer violates someone’s fourth amendment rights to a lawful search and seizer, the case in question might be dropped.
- Entrapment: Entrapment happens when a law enforcement officer encourages someone to commit a crime they would not have committed otherwise. For example, if a police officer threatens someone with violence or incarceration if they don’t commit a drug crime, the suspect is a victim of entrapment.
- The drugs are someone else’s: Claiming the drugs that resulted in a possession charge actually belong to another person can be a strong legal defense depending on the circumstances of the arrest. An experienced drug crime attorney can argue that there is a reasonable doubt that the accused knew the person they were with had brought drugs with them.
We Can Represent You
If you have been accused of drug possession and are facing potential charges, the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Stover can help. With over 25 years of experience helping the accused, Attorney Ken Stover can help you build a strong defense for your drug offense. He has experience on both sides of the criminal justice system and understands how serious your charge is. Contact us at (775) 502-1575 or online for a free case consultation today.