"Methamphetamine / Crystal Meth" laws in Nevada



Methamphetamine (meth) is a schedule II controlled substance that carries felony penalties in Nevada, even for recreational possession. But prosecutors may be willing to plea bargain the charges down to a misdemeanor or drop the case completely.

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

crystal meth
A highly-addictive stimulant, methamphetamine is typically injected intravenously, snorted, or smoked. Common names include speed, crystal, crank, blue, glass, tina, tweak, ice, and meth.

1. What are the penalties for meth crimes?

The sentence depends on the particular offense:

Nevada Methamphetamine crime

Punishment

Possession for personal use / simple possession (NRS 453.336)

1st or 2nd conviction

Category E felony:

  • 1 – 4 years in Nevada State Prison (the court may grant probation or a suspended sentence); and
  • Up to $5,000 (at the court's discretion)

3rd or subsequent conviction

Category D felony:

  • 1 – 4 years in prison; and
  • Up to $5,000 (at the court's discretion)

Possession for the purpose of sale (NRS 453.337)

1st conviction

Category D felony:

  • 1 – 4 years in prison (the court may grant probation or a suspended sentence); and
  • Up to $5,000 (at the court's discretion)

2nd conviction

Category C felony:

  • 1 – 5 years in prison; and
  • Up to $10,000 (at the court's discretion)

3rd or subsequent conviction

Category B felony:

  • 3 – 15 years in prison; and
  • Up to $20,000 (at the court's discretion)

Selling, giving away, transporting, administering, dispensing, trading, or manufacturing (NRS 453.321)

1st conviction

Category B felony:

  • 1 – 6 years in prison (the court may grant probation or a suspended sentence); and
  • Up to $20,000 (at the court's discretion)

2nd conviction

Category B felony:

  • 2 – 10 years in prison; and
  • Up to $20,000 (at the court's discretion)

3rd or subsequent conviction

Category B felony:

  • 3 – 15 years in prison; and
  • Up to $20,000 (at the court's discretion)

Trafficking (NRS 453.3385)

28 grams to less than 200 grams

Category C felony:

  • 1 – 5 years in prison; and
  • Up to $10,000 (at the court's discretion); and
  • An additional fine of up to $50,000

200 grams to less than 400 grams

Category B felony:

  • 2 – 10 years in prison; and
  • Up to $100,000

400 grams or more

Category A felony:

  • 15 years or life in prison (with the possibility of parole after 5 years); and
  • Up to $250,000

Being under the influence (NRS 453.411)

Category E felony:

  • 1 – 4 years in prison; and
  • Up to $5,000 (at the court's discretion)

Judges usually grant probation for a first-time defendant.1

2. What are the defenses?

Three common ways to fight meth drug charges include the following:

  1. The defendant did not know the drugs were there.2 It is not unusual for people to be unaware of drugs being in their home. Maybe someone else left the drugs there. Or perhaps it belongs to another family member. Unless the D.A. can show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew about the drugs, criminal charges should not stand.
  2. The police entrapped the defendant. Police who threaten or force suspects into taking, buying, or selling drugs are committing entrapment, which is illegal. As long as the defendant was not predisposed to committing the drug crime, the case should be dropped.3
  3. The police committed an illegal search and seizure. If the police find drugs through an unconstitutional search, then the judge can throw out ("suppress") those drugs from evidence. Prosecutors may then be left with too weak of a case to sustain a conviction.

3. Can the charge get lessened or dropped?

Nevada prosecutors are often eager to lessen or dismiss meth charges to avoid a trial. Predictably, the D.A. is more likely to offer good plea deals to first-time drug defendants with little-to-no criminal history.

First-time simple possession defendants struggling with addiction may be eligible for Drug Court. This is an intensive rehabilitation program that can last a year or more. But at the end, the felony possession charge would get dismissed.

If prosecutors refuse to dismiss a felony charge, they may agree to lessen it to a misdemeanor under NRS 454.351. The maximum punishment includes:

  • 6 months in jail, and/or
  • $1,000 in fines

Even trafficking defendants may have an opportunity to get a case dismissed or reduced if they agree to act as informants and help the police carry out investigations.

4. Can the record be sealed?

Yes. If the meth charges get dismissed, then the defendant can petition for a seal immediately. Otherwise, there is a one-to-ten year wait depending on the conviction.4

Nevada meth conviction

Record seal waiting period

Misdemeanor

1 year after the case ends

Category E felony

2 years after the case ends

Category D felony

Category C felony

Category B felony

5 years after the case ends

Category A felony

10 years after the case ends

Dismissal (no conviction)

Immediately

Read about how to get a Nevada criminal record seal.

5. Are there immigration consequences?

Yes. Not only are meth crime convictions deportation. Merely being a drug addict can get a non-citizen removed from the U.S.5

Any immigrant charged with drug crimes is advised to hire skilled counsel as soon as possible. The attorney may be able to persuade the D.A. to reduce the charge to a non-removable crime.

6. Related offenses

See our other narcotic articles on:

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

Charged? Call...

Arrested for a methamphetamine crime in Nevada? Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys want to help you. 

For a FREE consultation, call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) or fill out the form on this page. We have a long track record of getting narcotics charges lessened or thrown out. And if necessary, we are prepared to take your matter to a jury and fight zealously for a "not guilty" verdict.

Also see our article on DUI of meth.

Arrested in California? Go to our informational article on California meth laws.

Arrested in Colorado? Go to our informational article on Colorado meth laws.


Legal References:

  1. NRS 453.336; NRS 453.337; NRS 453.321; NRS 453.3385; NRS 453.441.
  2. Sheriff, Humboldt County v. Gleave, 104 Nev. 496, 761 P.2d 416 (1988).
  3. NRS 179.255; NRS 179.245.
  4. 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B).

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