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Drug possession in Nevada

NRS 453.336 is the Nevada law that makes possessing drugs, narcotics or controlled substances without a prescription is a felony. Even if the narcotics are for personal use and you do not intend to sell them, a possession conviction in Las Vegas could result in prison and hefty fines.

Perhaps most importantly, having any drug offense on your criminal record may deter employers from hiring you or even jeopardize your current job.

Sgro & Roger have great success in getting our clients' possession charges dismissed or reduced to misdemeanors. In this blog we explain the law and defenses, including how completing "Drug Court" may result in your charges being dropped.

Definition of Controlled Substance Possession in Nevada (NRS 453.336)

The legal definition of "unlawful possession not for purpose of sale" in Las Vegas, Nevada is when a person "knowingly or intentionally possesses a controlled substance, unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a lawful prescription."

In other words, drug possession in Nevada is deliberately owning or having control over drugs that you do not plan to trade for cash or valuables. Other common expressions for the Las Vegas crime of possessing narcotics include:

PCS in Las Vegas (short for possession of a controlled substance in Las Vegas)straight possession of controlled substances/ narcotics in Las Vegaspossession of drugs for personal use in Las Vegas

Types of drugs prohibited:

It is a common misconception that you can only be convicted of possession in Nevada if the drugs are physically on your person. In fact, however, "possession" has a broad legal meaning and may extend to any location you exercise control over, such as in your home or car.

As explained below, Las Vegas controlled substances law prohibits three types of narcotics possession: 1) actual, 2) constructive, and 3) joint.

Actual possession of controlled substances in Nevada:

Actual possession is when someone physically keeps the narcotics on their person. Examples include holding a baggie of crack in your hand or hiding it in your back pocket.

Constructive possession of controlled substances in Nevada:

Constructive possession occurs when someone stores narcotics in a location he/she has control over.1 Examples are hiding an ounce of cocaine in your dresser or keeping a bottle of Ambien (that you don't have a prescription for) in your medicine cabinet.

Joint possession of controlled substances in Nevada:

Joint possession refers to when two or more people share control or ownership over the same narcotics.2 For example if a wife knows her husband is storing heroin in their refrigerator, and she permits this to take place, she could also be prosecuted for possession even if she didn't use the drugs herself.

Being in Possession versus Being Under the Influence

Being "high" can get you arrested for the Nevada crime of being under the influence of a controlled substance. But unless drugs are found in your possession as well, you won't face possession charges even if you had been in possession earlier in order to get high.


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