NRS 200.408 - "Administering a controlled substance to aid in commission of a crime of violence" in Nevada

NRS 200.408 is a Nevada drug law that prohibits giving people certain drugs in order to commit a violent crime against them. Specifically, this statute states:

"A person who causes to be administered to another person any controlled substance without that person's knowledge and with the intent thereby to enable or assist himself or herself or any other person to commit a crime of violence against that person or the property of that person, is guilty[.]"

Violating NRS 200.408 is a category B felony in Nevada, carrying:

But prosecutors could agree to a Nevada plea bargain where the charge gets lessened or even dismissed altogether. Possible defenses include:

  1. The defendant had no intent to commit a crime of violence;
  2. The drugs were not prohibited under NRS 200.408; or
  3. The person who took the drugs legally consented to it

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss the Nevada crime of administering controlled substances to aid in the commission of a violent crime under NRS 200.408. Click on a topic to jump to that section:

man putting drug in drink at club
Violating NRS 200.408 is a category B felony in Nevada.

1. Legal definition of administering controlled substances to aid in the commission of a violent crime

NRS 200.408 is an extremely narrow crime that covers a specific set of circumstances. Specifically, NRS 200.408 makes it illegal in Nevada when the following three conditions are true:

  1. a person administers any controlled substance to another person;
  2. the victim being given the drugs has no knowledge of it (or cannot legally consent to it, such as if the victim is unconscious); and
  3. the person who administers the drugs has the intent to enable him/herself (or a co-conspirator) to commit a "crime of violence" against the victim's person or property

Like it sounds, a "crime of violence" means:

  • any offense involving the use -- or threatened use -- of force or violence against the person or property of another; or
  • any felony for which there is a substantial risk that force or violence may be used against the person or property of another in the commission of the felony.1

Most crimes of violence are Nevada felonies. But crimes of violence can also be misdemeanors in Nevada as long as they involve the use or threatened use of force, such as a simple assault or battery.

An example of administering a controlled substance to aid the commission of a crime of violence is the following:

Example: John slips the "date rape drug" Rohypnol into Jane's drink. Once the drug takes effect, they have sex.

Here, John committed the Nevada crime of sexual assault (NRS 200.366) because Jane had no idea she was given a drug that would alter her ability to consent. Now look at another example:

Example: John puts an Ambien into Jane's drink, which he tells her is just a painkiller. Once the drug takes effect, John lets her ex-boyfriend Max into her apartment so he can smash her windows.

Here, it is irrelevant that Jane knew John put a drug in her drink. He lied about what kind of drug it was, so Jane was legally unaware of it.

It is also irrelevant that Max and not John vandalized the property. John gave Jane the Ambien to facilitate Max's crime of violence against her property; therefore, John is criminally liable under NRS 200.408.

2. Nevada punishments for administering controlled substances to further a violent crime

man putting drug in drink
A common NRS 200.408 scenario is a person spiking another's drink with a "roofie" to commit "date rape."

Administering drugs in Nevada to aid in the commission of a crime of violence is a category B felony under NRS 200.408. The penalty is one to twenty (1 - 20) years in prison.2

In addition, defendants may face penalties for the underlying violent offense they committed and/or conspired to commit.

3. Fighting Nevada charges for administering controlled substances to commit a violent crime

Every criminal case is different, and its unique facts determine which defense strategies would prove the most effective. Depending on the case, potential defenses to NRS 200.408 charges are:

  1. The defendant had no intent to commit a crime of violence;
  2. The drugs in the case were not controlled substances; or
  3. The person who took the drugs legally consented to taking them

3.1. The defendant had no intent to commit a crime of violence

NRS 200.408 charges are inappropriate if the defendant had no intention to commit a crime of violence.

Example: Jeb is a night security guard patrolling a private park in Las Vegas. While Jeb is turned away, Grant spikes his coffee with Ambien. Later while Jeb falls asleep on the job, Grant sneaks into the park for a midnight hike.

Since trespass is not a crime of violence, Grant should not face charges of administering controlled substances to aid in the commission of a crime of violence. Instead, Grant would face charges for the Nevada crime of trespass (NRS 207.200) and the Nevada crime of battery (NRS 200.481) for giving the drugs to Jeb without his consent.

It is challenging for prosecutors to successfully prove what a defendant's intent is because state-of-mind is intangible. Therefore, the D.A. looks to "circumstantial" evidence such as text messages and eyewitness testimony.

3.2. The drugs were not controlled substances

If the defendant administered drugs that do not qualify as controlled substances, then NRS 200.408 charges are inapplicable.

Example: Jake slips a melatonin pill into his girlfriend Sally's drink at his Boulder City home. Then while Sally is asleep, Jack slaps her face because he is angry at her for cheating on him.

Even though slapping is violent, melatonin is not a controlled substance like Ambien or Lunesta. Therefore, the D.A. should not press NRS 200.408 charges against Jake. Instead, the D.A. would probably bring misdemeanor battery charges.

Even if Jake in the above example did give Sally a Lunesta, it could be difficult for the D.A. to prove that unless Sally submits to a blood test shortly after the incident. In many cases, the prosecutors simply have insufficient evidence to show controlled substances were involved.

For lists of common controlled substances, see our articles:

3.3. The person who took the drugs had knowledge of it

A key element of NRS 200.408 crimes is that the victim was unaware he/she was taking the controlled substances or was too incapacitated to know he/she was taking the drugs. If there is awareness, then the charge should be dropped.

consent definition
If a person legally consents to take a controlled substance, then the person who gave it to him/her should not face NRS 200.408 charges.

Example: Jenny gives her roommate Helen a brownie which Helen knows contains marijuana. Then while Helen is stoned, Jenny beats her up for always being late with rent. Since Helen was aware she was ingesting marijuana, Jenny should not be prosecuted for administering controlled substances to further a crime of violence.

In the above example, Jenny would instead face charges for battery.

4. Deportation for administering drugs to aid in the commission of a violent crime

It is probable that a Las Vegas immigration judge would consider NRS 200.408 violations to be crimes involving moral turpitude in Nevada. This means that an alien who gets convicted of violating NRS 200.408 may be deported once he/she finishes serving the sentence.

Prosecutors may be willing to reduce deportable criminal charges to non-deportable charges that will not jeopardize non-citizen defendants' resident status. But this is more likely when defendants have experienced private counsel fighting for them. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

5. Sealing Nevada criminal records for administering drugs to further a violent crime

NRS 200.408 convictions are usually not sealable in Nevada.3 But if the charge gets dismissed so that there is no conviction, then the defendant can immediately ask the court to seal his/her arrest record.4

Learn how to seal criminal records in Nevada.

6. Related offenses

6.1. Administration of drugs to aid commission of a felony

As with NRS 200.408, the Nevada crime of administering drugs to aid in the commission of a felony (NRS 200.405) is a category B felony. However, the maximum prison sentence is 10 years rather than 20 years.

6.2. Drug possession

Like it sounds, the Nevada offense of drug possession (NRS 453.336) is when a person owns or possesses illegal drugs for their personal use. The sentence turn on the schedule of drug and the defendant's criminal history.

6.3. Conspiracy

The Nevada crime of conspiracy (NRS 199.480) occurs when two or more people agree to commit a crime. It makes no difference if the crime never occurs. The punishment turns on the underlying offense that the defendant was conspiring to commit.

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Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

Charged with violating NRS 200.408 in Nevada? Phone our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE meeting. We are here to go over all your legal options and how we can serve you.

In many instances, we can negotiate a substantial charge reduction or dismissal with the D.A. But know that if you wish to go to trial, we are prepared to fight our hardest for a full acquittal.


Legal References

  1.  NRS 200.408  Administration of controlled substance to aid commission of crime of violence: Penalty; definitions.  

    1.  A person who causes to be administered to another person any controlled substance without that person's knowledge and with the intent thereby to enable or assist himself or herself or any other person to commit a crime of violence against that person or the property of that person, is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 20 years.

    2.  As used in this section:

          (a) “Controlled substance” includes flunitrazepam and gamma-hydroxybutyrate and each substance for which flunitrazepam or gamma-hydroxybutyrate is an immediate precursor as defined in NRS 453.086.

          (b) “Crime of violence” means:

                 (1) Any offense involving the use or threatened use of force or violence against the person or property of another; or

                 (2) Any felony for which there is a substantial risk that force or violence may be used against the person or property of another in the commission of the felony.

          (c) “Without a person's knowledge” means the person is unaware that a substance that can alter the person's ability to appraise conduct or to decline participation in or communicate an unwillingness to participate in conduct has been administered to the person.
  2. Id.
  3. NRS 179.245.
  4. NRS 179.255.

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