Giving drugs to another person in order to commit a crime against that person or someone else is a felony in Nevada. A conviction may carry several years in prison.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys explain the Nevada offenses of administering drugs to effectuate a crime. Scroll down to learn about the laws, common defenses, and possible punishments.
The legal definition of "administration of drugs to aid in the commission of a crime" in Las Vegas, Nevada, is divided into two separate offenses depending on the type of drug and the type of crime:
NRS 200.405: Administration of drug to aid commission of a felony
it is illegal in Nevada for someone to try to assist him/herself (or a co-conspirator) to commit a felony by means of administering any of the following drugs to another person:
- a controlled substance (which includes illegal drugs and some prescription medications)
- intoxicating or emetic agents
In other words, it is illegal to dope someone else up in order to get him/her to commit a felony or to make it easier for the person giving the drugs (or a co-conspirator) to commit a felony. An example of this crime would be the following:
Example: John gives Valium to Jane. While Jane is under the influence of the Valium, John hacks into her bank account and transfers her funds to John.
Note that John would still be liable under NRS 200.405 even if John never succeeded in hacking into her account. That John had the intent to commit a crime by administering the drugs to Jane would be sufficient for prosecutors to press charges.
Also note that it does not matter whether Jane consented to take the Valium. All that matters is John's intent to take advantage of Jane's drug-induced state to effectuate the illegal money transfer. Now consider a slightly different example of this crime:
Example: John gives Valium to Jane. While Jane is under the influence of the Valium, John persuades Jane to transfer her bank account funds to John.
it is immaterial that Jane, not John, is the one transferring the money. That John gave Jane Valium with the intent to use her to give him her money is no less criminal than if John or a co-conspirator took the money themselves.
Finally, recall that NRS 200.405 applies only to the commission or attempted commission of felonies in Nevada, not misdemeanors in Nevada. So if John gave Valium to Jane in order to commit the Las Vegas crime of trespass or the Las Vegas crime of shoplifting an item less than $650, John could be prosecuted for conspiring to trespass or shoplift but not for administering drugs.
NRS 200.408: Administration of controlled substance to aid commission of a crime of violence
A defendant is liable under this particular law when all of the following conditions are met:
- the defendant administers a controlled substance to someone else
- the person being given the drugs is unaware that either he/she is ingesting the drugs or that the drug can alter his/her mental faculties
- the defendant has the intent to enable him/herself (or a co-conspirator) to commit a "crime of violence" against the body or property of the person being given the drugs
Remember this law is limited only to situations where the defendant administers a controlled substance. So giving someone laudanum without their knowledge would not incur liability under NRS 200.408. (Instead, prosecutors may bring charges under NRS 200.405 and/or for the Las Vegas crime of 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" into Jane's drink. Once the drug takes effect, John rapes her.
Note that even if they had consensual sex, John would still be liable for this crime because Jane no longer had the mental capacity to know what she was doing or to consent. Now let us look at a slightly different example of this crime.
Example: John puts the "date rape drug" into Jane's drink, which he tells her is just a painkiller. Once the drug takes effect, John lets his friend Max into her house so he can steal her valuables.
Here it is irrelevant that Jane knew John put something in her drink. As long as Jane is unaware that the substance could affect her, John remains liable.
Furthermore, it also does not matter that Jane was not physically hurt or threatened when Max burgled her property. Any crime such as burglary in Nevada where there is a substantial risk that force or violence may be used would qualify as a "crime of violence" under NRS 200.408. (Learn more in our article on Nevada sex crimes.)
Defense attorneys explore many different options when crafting a response to allegations of administering drugs to aid in the commission of a felony or violent crime. The final defense plan will obviously be dependent on the particular facts of the case, but below are some general defense strategies:
- No intent to commit a crime: A conviction for NRS 200.405 or NRS 200.408 may stand only if the defendant administered the drug with the intent to enable him/herself or someone else to commit a certain crime. So if the defense attorney can show that the defendant administered the drug with no intention of taking advantage of the drug-user's intoxicated state to carry out a crime, the charges should be dropped.
- The person who took the drugs consented to it: A charge of violating NRS 200.408 cannot stand if the victim knew he/she was taking a controlled substance and that the controlled substance could alter his/her mental state. So if a defense attorney can show that the victim was fully aware of what he/she was taking, the defendant is not criminally liable for administering a controlled substance to aid in the commission of a crime of violence. (Note that consent is not a defense to a charge of NRS 200.405.)
- Reasonable Doubt: The law requires juries to acquit a defendant if the prosecutor fails to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. So a defense attorney would use investigation, litigation and cross-examination to try to show that the state's evidence is too unreliable or inadequate to support a conviction.
The Las Vegas crime of administering drugs in the commission of a crime is punished as a category B felony in Nevada. The specific punishment depends on whether the charge is for NRS 200.405 or NRS 200.408.
The sentence for violating NRS 200.405 is 1 to 10 years in Nevada State Prison. In contrast, the sentence for violating NRS 200.408 is 1 to 20 years in prison. The reason for this difference is that NRS 200.408 is limited to controlled substances and violent crimes, whereas NRS 200.405 may include less harmful types of drugs and non-violent crimes.
Depending on the circumstances the D.A. may press charges for additional Nevada drug crimes such as possession. The D.A. may also bring charges for the underlying crime the defendant intended to carry out by administering the drugs. So a person accused of raping someone he gave GHB to may be charged with both NRS 200.408 and the Nevada crime of sexual assault.
Arrested? There is help . . .
If you have been accused of administering drugs in the commission of a crime under NRS 200.405 or NRS 200.408, phone Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free meeting. Their goal is to get your case reduced to a lesser offense or dropped altogether. And if necessary they are always ready to take your case to trial and fight for a "not guilty" verdict.