Las Vegas is known as the Entertainment Capital of the World and for good reason. Vegas offers a wide variety of tourist attractions, including casinos, performance venues, luxury hotels, and fine dining. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority 41,126,512 tourists visited the city in 2015. Many tourists regard Las Vegas as a place where they can figuratively let their hair down, because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? That’s not necessarily the case.
While Las Vegas has several features to brag about, like The Strip, Venetian Hotel, Caesar’s Palace and The Colosseum, and the Stratosphere Tower, it also has a more sinister side.
Las Vegas Drug Statistics
According to the 2015 Nevada Crime and Corrections Statistics, 10.8 percent of the state’s populations are illicit drug users; ranking the state number 14 in the U.S. All drugs, including marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, acid, and prescription drugs, are widely available.
During the last 10 years per capita sales of Oxycodone increased by 366 percent.1 Hydrocodone sales increased by 233 percent.1 In recent years club drugs, including MDMA (Ecstasy), GHB, LSE, and K2, have also spiked in popularity, especially among the nightclub and adult entertainment scenes.
The wide availability of illicit drugs and the “what happens in Vegas” mantra often results in serious criminal charges for tourists, including possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance (PCS), or driving under the influence of drugs (DUID).
Drug Possession and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Nevada
Possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia are two of the most common drug-related offenses in Nevada. An individual may be charged with possession of a controlled substance, if the individual has in his or her possession or custody a narcotic such as marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, or other controlled substance.
Depending on the circumstances, an individual may be charged with possession of a controlled substance without having said controlled substance in his or her custody or control. It is possible to be charged with possession of a controlled substance for simply being around a controlled substance.
As earlier stated, possession of drug paraphernalia is another common drug-related offense in Las Vegas. Drug paraphernalia is considered any product, material, or equipment which is used for the purpose of producing, concealing, or using narcotics.
Nevada Drug Possession Penalties
Any conviction for possession of a controlled substance has serious consequences, including steep fines and/or jail time. In the state of Nevada, the penalties for drug possession depend on the amount of drugs possessed, the schedule the drug falls under, and whether the individual has previously been convicted for a drug offense.
In Nevada, drugs are divided into 5 schedules.
- Schedule I consists of drugs that are considered highly abused and have no accepted medical use. Schedule I consists of heroin, MDMA, LSD, GHB, Methamphetamine, PCP, and Marijuana (THC).
- Schedule II consists of drugs that have an accepted use, but still have a high tendency of abuse. The following drugs generally require a prescription. Schedule 2 consists of Cocaine, Opium, Oxycontin, Vicodin, Dilaudid, Morphine, and Ritalin.
- Schedule III consists of drugs that have less potential for abuse and may have an accepted medical use. These substances include Codeine, Ketamine, Testosterone, and Anabolic Steroids.
- Schedule IV consists of drugs that have low potential for abuse or addiction and an accepted medical use. These drugs include Xanax, Tranquilizers, Valium, Clonazepam, and Sedatives.
- Schedule V consists of drugs that have an accepted medical use and limited addictive properties. Schedule V includes cough suppressant and Codeine.
As mentioned earlier, Schedule I drugs like MDMA, LSD, and GHB are popular among Las Vegas’ nightclub scene and are widely available to tourists. A conviction for possession of these substances can be particularly problematic for a tourist, because first-offense possession of a schedule I narcotic is considered a category E felony in Nevada. A category E felony carries a penalty between one to four years in prison and a fine of no more than $5,000.
Las Vegas Drug Possession Conviction Can Affect Your Career
A felony drug possession conviction does not stay in Vegas. The collateral consequences can follow an individual for years and negatively impact all aspects of life, especially one’s career.
Most employers perform a criminal background check before extending an official offer of employment. While a criminal conviction may not automatically bar an individual from employment. Most employers will deny employment if there is a correlation between the drug possession conviction and the position.
Depending on the profession, a drug possession conviction may have more damning consequences.
- Teachers – In certain states a felony drug conviction may bar an individual from obtaining a professional licensure or certification. For example, in Ohio an individual may not obtain a certification to teach if he or she is convicted of a felony drug-related offense.2
- Lawyers – In certain states, including Kansas, Texas, Missouri, and Mississippi, an applicant is automatically barred from bar admission if convicted of a felony. Other states, including Georgia, Alabama, Connecticut, and Indiana, place significant barriers to bar membership if convicted of a felony.3
- Police Officer – Most states do not allow convicted felons to become police officers. For example, Texas does not allow individuals convicted of a felony become a police officer at any time after the conviction.4
Joel Mann of the Law Office of Joel M. Mann, Chtd. is a criminal offense attorney based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has extensive experience defending tourists and out-of-state residents in drug-related offenses, including possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, drug trafficking, possession with the intent to sell or distribute, and prescription pill offenses.
Joel Mann is a trial proven attorney, who will achieve the best result in your case based on your unique circumstances. For many first-time drug possession offenders, Attorney Mann gets the charges reduced or dismissed.
The Law Office of Joel M. Mann, Chtd. diligently represents both tourists and local residents facing drug charges in Las Vegas and Clark County, Nevada. Contact Joel Mann at (702) 474-6266 for a confidential consultation.
- National Geographic, Facts: Last Vegas “Interesting Facts Related to This Episode, September 28, 2012- http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/drugs-inc/articles/facts-las-vegas/
- Ohio Administrative Code Rule 3301-20-01: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3319.31
- Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements: http://www.ncbex.org/pubs/bar-admissions-guide/2016/index.html#p=19
- Requirements for Licensed Law Enforcement Careers: https://www.tcole.texas.gov/sites/default/files/documents/le_careers_lic_requir_11.pdf