"Misdemeanor Drug Charges" in Nevada Law (NRS 454.351)
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you're facing felony drug charges in Nevada, our first line of attack as attorneys is to try to get your case dismissed.  But if the state's evidence is too strong and you don't wish to take a chance at trial, then we may be able to persuade prosecutors to lower your charge to only a misdemeanor offense commonly called "ITS" . . . this is what Paris Hilton pleaded guilty to after she was arrested for cocaine possession in Las Vegas in 2010.

Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys have had years of success in getting serious drug charges pleaded down to simple ITS cases.  Keep reading to learn the law and penalties for misdemeanor drug charges as well as what we can do to help.

Definition

Nearly all drug crimes in Nevada are prosecuted as felonies whether they are for selling, intending to sell, trafficking, being under the influence of, or just possession for personal use.  The one main exception is a kind of catch-all misdemeanor that's commonly referred to as ITS, which is short for "drugs which may not be introduced into interstate commerce."

Nevada's misdemeanor drug laws provide that, "Any person within this State who possesses, procures, obtains, processes, produces, derives, manufactures, sells, offers for sale, gives away or otherwise furnishes any drug which may not be lawfully introduced into interstate commerce under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act is guilty of a misdemeanor."  (NRS 454.351)

As you can see it's very broad, and people arrested for drug crimes in Las Vegas are rarely charged with ITS initially.  But if they have a minimal criminal history or if the state's case against them is weak, prosecutors are often willing to drop the felony charge and replace it with misdemeanor ITS.

Defenses

There are numerous strategies a criminal defense attorney may use when trying to persuade a prosecutor to dismiss or reduce a felony to misdemeanor ITS drug charge in Nevada.  The following are just some examples:

    • Entrapment - It's common for police to set up "stings" to try to catch suspected drug dealers and users in the act.  But if the police go so far as to 'entrap' somebody into a drug deal that they would not have entered but for the police intervention, any drug charges should be dismissed.
    • Illegal searches - Even if you did commit a drug crime, your case may be dismissed if the police acted unconstitutionally when investigating your case.  Whenever the police perform an illegal search for instance, your attorney may be able to keep any incriminating evidence found as a result of the search from being used against you in the case.
  • Weak evidence - When executing a drug bust, police oftentimes arrest innocent people who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Or else they will suspect someone of selling drugs when in fact they possessed them only for personal use, which is a much less serious crime than selling.  If your Nevada defense attorney can show the prosecutors that their case is not as solid as it may first appear, then the state may be willing to reduce or even drop the charges.
Penalties

ITS is only a misdemeanor in Nevada, which means upon conviction a judge may order a sentence of:

  • up to six months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines.

But if you were originally arrested on felony drug charges and the state agreed to reduce them to misdemeanor ITS as part of a plea bargain, the judge will usually impose additional punishments including some or all of the following:

  • a drug treatment program,
  • community service,
  • an order to "stay out of trouble" (SOOT), which means that you may not pick up any new arrests or citations other than minor traffic tickets until the case is closed,
  • probation, and
  • a suspended jail sentence, which means that you won't do time unless you violate the terms of your plea deal.

This may sound harsh. But it's actually a favorable resolution considering most other drug crimes are automatic felonies in Nevada (aside from simple marijuana possession of an ounce or less in Las Vegas, which can usually be taken care of with just a fine).  And because ITS is only a misdemeanor, you can typically petition to have your criminal record sealed in Clark County after only two (2) years from the time the case is closed.

Arrested?  We're here to help . . . .

If you've been arrested on felony drug charges in this state, our Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense lawyers will negotiate tirelessly with prosecutors to get your case either dismissed or else reduced to a misdemeanor charge of "Drugs which may not be introduced into interstate commerce" (ITS - NRS 454.351).  For a free consultation today, call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).

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