Drug Court Programs in Nevada (NRS 453.3363)


Nevada Drug Court
is a rehabilitation program that some first-time drug defendants may do instead of Nevada State Prison. And upon successful completion, the narcotics charge will be completely dismissed.

Drug Court is meant to help addicts rather than punish them. And as long as they follow through, they will avoid a criminal record.

Below our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers answer frequently-asked-questions about Drug Court in Nevada.

gavel on paper that says rehabilitation (NRS 453.3363)
People struggling with addiction do not need prison. They need help. Fortunately, Las Vegas courts offer Drug Court as an alternative to incarceration.

1. What is Drug Court in Las Vegas?

It is a rehabilitative alternative to prison in low-level narcotics cases.

There are seven different programs in Las Vegas. Each offers specialized support according to age, gender, history, and parental status:

  1. Adult Criminal Court: This is the general drug court program for adults who have been arrested on felony drug charges.
  2. Juvenile Court: This program is devoted to youths under 18 who have been arrested for narcotics in Nevada.
  3. Dependency Court: This helps parents whose substance abuse is causing them to abuse or neglect their children.
  4. Dependency Mothers Court: This program is open to women whose child custody is being threatened by their child abuse.
  5. Child Support Court: This is for non-custodial parents who are behind in their child support due partly to substance abuse.
  6. Family Treatment Drug Court: This is a court-supervised comprehensive outpatient substance abuse treatment for alcohol- and drug-dependent mothers and fathers in the child welfare system.
  7. Adult Drug Court Transitional Age Program (TAP): The ADC TAP program is an 18-plus-month program that provides supervised comprehensive inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment for people aged 18 to 26.

2. Who is eligible?

Nevada Drug Court is open to addicts facing a first-time charge of either:

    1. Felony possession (NRS 453.336),
    2. Unlawful drug use (NRS 453.411), or
    3. Misdemeanor possession (NRS 453.351)

Non-addicts may also be able to avoid prison and a conviction for a first-time drug offense. But instead of doing rehab, they could just take a drug education class. This typically lasts only eight hours.

3. What are the benefits?

Drug Court allows defendants to go on with their life because there is no prison. And upon completion, the narcotics charge will be dismissed. Having a clean criminal record will greatly improve future employment prospects.

4. What is it like?

Participants are required to do the following:

  • Attend an outpatient rehabilitation and education treatment program. This counseling occurs usually once or twice a week.
  • Appear regularly before the judge to monitor progress. This is usually once a week but may decrease over time.
  • Stay clean of drugs and submit to random drug testing.

5. How long does it last?

Usually one year. But requirements may vary depending on the defendant and circumstances.

6. How much does it cost?

About $1,500.

7. What is the process of getting into Drug Court?

The defense attorney will confer with the prosecutors to take care of the technicalities. But the process under NRS 453.3363 goes like this:

  1. The defendant pleads guilty or "no contest" to the drug charge.
  2. The judge declines to convict. Instead, the judge suspends the case by putting the defendant on probation.
  3. The defendant completes the applicable rehab program in about a year.
  4. Upon completion, the judge dismisses the case.

8. What happens if I break the rules?

Judges may punish non-compliance by throwing defendants out of rehab. This means that the defendant would be convicted of the original narcotics charge and probably then face incarceration. 

But in practice most judges give second chances and punish mistakes by ordering:

9. What happens when I finish?

The drug case will be completely dismissed, and the case will be sealed. In other words, the defendant will not have a conviction.

There is usually a small graduation ceremony celebrating finishing rehab.

10. Can I keep my old drug charge a secret?

Drug Court graduates may legally deny -- even under oath -- that they were charged with drug use or possession.

However, there are certain times graduates do need to reveal their past drug charge. This typically occurs when applying for a professional license, such as to become a doctor, lawyer, or nurse. Licensing boards are entitled to information about applicants' entire criminal histories, including dismissed charges.

Additional Resources

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Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation today.

Arrested for drugs? Call us now ...

Would you like to explore doing a drug diversion program in Nevada? Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to discuss your options. We will set up a FREE meeting with our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys.

Our goal is that by the end of your case, both you and your criminal record will be clean.

California has similar programs that allow you to avoid prison. For more information read our article on California Drug Diversion Courts.

Colorado also has similar diversion programs for people charged with drug crimes. For more information see our article on Colorado drug sentencing alternatives.

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