Civil commitment of drug addicts in Las Vegas

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jul 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

Many people who are convicted of drug possession in Nevada may still be able to get the case dismissed by completing a year-long substance-abuse treatment. This "civil commitment" program is a way of providing first-time drug possession offenders a mulligan as well as help for their addiction.

"Civil commitment" for drug possession defendants in Nevada

Civil commitment typically comprises a year-long rehabilitation program to help treat defendants' drug and/or alcohol addictions. Defendants who get convicted of possessing controlled substances for personal use may elect to enter this program. And if they are successful, the court will dismiss their drug charge and seal their record.

The treatment program includes:

  • information and encouragement for the participant to cease abusing alcohol or using controlled substances through educational, counseling and support sessions developed with the cooperation of various community, health, substance abuse, religious, social service and youth organizations;
  • the opportunity for the participant to understand the medical, psychological and social implications of substance abuse; and
  • alternate courses within the program based on the different substances abused and the addictions of participants.

The court will also require that the defendant submit to random drug testing or screening.

Benefits of "civil commitment"

During the course of this program, the defendant receives drug and/or alcohol abuse treatment to help manage their addiction. Then upon successful completion of the program, the court will dismiss the defendant's drug charge and seal his/her criminal record.

Therefore, this program provides drug possession defendants a clean slate to move forward. And because the criminal record gets sealed, future employers will not see the case on background checks. Furthermore, defendants can lawfully deny ever having been convicted, even under oath. Learn more about Nevada record seals.

Eligibility for "civil commitment"

This program is generally open to defendants who have been convicted of possession of controlled substances for personal use. However, a defendant is automatically disqualified if:

  • the defendant has other felony proceedings pending; or
  • the defendant is on probation or parole, and the appropriate parole or probation authority does not consent to civil commitment;
  • the defendant has previously been admitted to civil commitment once or twice in the previous five years.

Length of "civil commitment"

The treatment typically lasts for one (1) year. But it may vary depending on the case.

Cost of "civil commitment"

It varies by location, but it amounts from hundreds to thousands of dollars. The defendant is responsible for paying all costs. If the defendant is unable to pay all or part of the costs however, the court will try to assign the defendant to a treatment provider that receives sufficient federal or state funding.

Out-of-state defendants

Non-Nevada defendants may enter "civil commitment" programs in their home state as long as they are substantially similar to Nevada's, and the defendants are eligible for treatment in the home state.

Also see our informational article on Nevada Drug Court, which is a similar program geared for defendants who have not been convicted yet.

Legal References:

  • NRS 458.300.
  • NRS 458.580.
  • NRS 453.3363

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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