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Party DrugsThe possession, use, and sale of many illegal drugs are punishable as felonies both under Nevada and federal law. A conviction on these felony charges could come with serious consequences that could have a lasting impact on your life.

Any drug charges should be taken seriously and demand a strong, coordinated legal defense. Fortunately for first-time offenders, the consequences are often lighter than they are for repeat offenders.

If you have been charged with a drug felony in Nevada for the first time, it is important to understand the potential consequences of a conviction. As soon as you are charged – whether in state or federal court – as a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer, I can help minimize your chance of a conviction or to fight for a lighter sentence.

Types of Felony Drug Charges in Las Vegas

Drug charges can be complicated. While most crimes are dealt with in state court, drug crimes are frequently prosecuted both in state and federal courts. If you are suspected of selling, using, or possessing illegal drugs in Las Vegas, you could be charged by either the State of Nevada or the United States.

It is no longer illegal under Nevada law to possess small quantities of marijuana for your own personal use. However, you could still be charged with a state felony for illegally trafficking marijuana.  In addition, under Federal law it is considered illegal to possess any quantity of marijuana.

For other illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, you can still be charged with a felony, even if you only possess a small amount for your personal use. Here are some of the felony drug charges you could face in state court:

  • Import or sale
  • Possession with intent to sell
  • Possession without intent to sell (not for small quantities of marijuana)
  • Maintaining a drug house
  • Sale to a minor
  • Trafficking a Schedule I drug other than marijuana
  • Trafficking marijuana
  • Manufacturing

Any drug case has the potential to become a federal case, depending on factors, including whether the alleged substance crossed state lines or whether you were named by a federal informant. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. If the federal government wants to charge you with a felony drug crime, they will not care that you live in a state that has legalized marijuana.

Here are some of the felony drug charges you could face in federal court:

Both state and federal law include a number of more specific charges for drug-related behavior, but these are some of the more common ones. For many of these types of charges, whether in state or federal court, you might receive a lighter sentence if you have been convicted of only a first offense.

Penalties for First-Time Felony Drug Charges

The State of Nevada ramps up sentences for many felony drug charges from the first to second, and often the second to third, offense. The idea is that seeing harsher punishments for repeat offenses will deter people from continuing to commit drug-related crimes.

Here are the prison time penalties for first offenses compared to subsequent penalties for some common state-level drug felonies:

  • Import/sale of Schedule I or II drugs (including cocaine, heroin, etc.): 1-6 years for a first offense; 2-10 years for a second offense; 3-15 years for a third or subsequent offense
  • Possession not for sale of Schedule I-IV drugs: 1-4 years for any offense, but the maximum fine increases from $5,000 to $20,000 on the third offense
  • Possession for sale of Schedule I or II drugs: 1-4 years for a first offense; 1-5 years without probation for a second offense; 3-15 years without probation for a third or subsequent offense
  • Maintaining a drug house: 1-6 years for a first offense; 2-10 years for a second or subsequent offense

Federal law also ups the penalty for many felony drug charges on the second offense, and sometimes the third. Here are some examples of federal penalties for trafficking, a common felony drug charge:

  • Trafficking marijuana, 1-49 plants or less than 50 kg: up to 20 years for a first offense; 20 years to life for a second or subsequent offense
  • Trafficking marijuana, 50-99 plants or 50-99 kg: 5-40 years for a first offense, 10 years to life for a second or subsequent offense
  • Trafficking cocaine, 500-4999 g: 5-40 years for a first offense, 10 years to life for a second or subsequent offense
  • Trafficking cocaine, 5 kg or more: 10 years to life for a first offense; 20 years to life for a second offense; life in prison for a third or subsequent offense

There are many federal and state drug charges that can carry different penalties depending on the drug in question, what you’re accused of doing with it, and how much you were accused of having. These are just some examples to illustrate how much the minimum and maximum sentences can change between the first, second, and third offense.

It is also possible to paint a sympathetic picture of a first-time offender and convince the judge to give a sentence on the lower end of the range of possibilities. As an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer, I know what judges in Clark County need to hear.

Contact a Drug Charges Defense Attorney in Las Vegas Today

If you have been charged with a drug felony for the first time, there still hope of getting a lighter sentence or getting the charges dropped altogether, but you need to act quickly. State or federal investigators are already building their case against you. It’s time to start building your defense.

I am a 13-year Clark County trial court veteran with extensive experience helping my clients achieve the best possible outcomes and keep their future bright. For more information on how to get help with your drug charges in Las Vegas, contact the Law Office of Joel M. Mann today by phone or online.

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