Common felony charges that get filed in ecstasy cases include:
- possession (NRS 453.336),
- possession with intent to sell (NRS 453.337),
- selling or manufacturing (NRS 453.321), or
- trafficking (NRS 453.3385).
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers answer frequently-asked questions about ecstasy narcotic offenses in Nevada.
1. What are the penalties for ecstasy crimes?
It depends on which Nevada drug offense the defendant was convicted of.
|Nevada Ecstasy crime||Punishments|
|Possession for personal use |
|Penalties depend on the amount and if the defendant has prior convictions. See our page on drug possession (NRS 453.336) to learn more.|
|For a first or second offense involving less than 14 grams, it is a category E felony: |
The court will grant eligible defendants who plead guilty or no contest a deferral of judgment, which means that the court will dismiss the case if the defendant completes certain court-ordered terms. Otherwise, category E felony convictions carry probation and a suspended sentence, which may include up to one year in jail. (But if the defendant has two or more prior felony convictions, the court may impose one to four years in Nevada State Prison and up to $5,000 in fines.)
|Possession with the intent to sell |
Category D felony:
|Selling, giving away, trading, transporting, importing, dispensing, administering, or manufacturing |
Category C felony:
Category B felony:
Category B felony:
|It depends on the quantity:|
100 grams to less than 400 grams
Category B felony:
400 grams or more
|Being under the influence |
2. What are the defenses?
The most effective defense strategies in ecstasy cases depend on the circumstances of the case. Typical defenses are:
- The defendant did not know the MDMA was there,
- The police entrapped the defendant, and/or
- The police executed an illegal search and seizure
2.1. No knowledge of the ecstasy
Defendants are not guilty of drug possession if they are honestly unaware of the drugs being there.2
Example: Jan and Jennifer share a Las Vegas apartment. Jan hides MDMA under the living room floorboards without Jennifer’s knowledge. Acting on a tip, a police officer gets a search warrant and finds the ecstasy. The officer then arrests Jan and Jennifer for possession. But Jennifer should not be convicted because she genuinely had no idea the ecstasy was in her home.
If the D.A. in the above example cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jennifer knew the ecstasy was in her apartment, the case should be dismissed.
Law enforcement is not allowed to trick (“entrap”) suspects into committing a crime that they are not predisposed to commit.3
Example: In Laughlin, an undercover police officer goes to a rave and observes Hannah popping MDMA. The officer asks to buy one of her ecstasy pills. Hannah declines. The officer then threatens to beat Hannah if she refuses to sell. Hannah complies, and the officer arrests her for selling drugs. But Hannah should not be convicted because the undercover officer entrapped her with threats, and she was not predisposed to sell drugs.
If Hannah in the above example accepted the officer’s first offer to buy the drugs, then Hannah would have a hard time arguing that she was entrapped. Police are allowed to go undercover and lie to suspects. They just cannot threaten suspects to get them to carry out a crime.
2.3. Illegal search and seizure
Police must abide by the Fourth Amendment when executing a search. Whenever officers cross the line, the defense attorney should request that the judge exclude (“suppress”) any evidence found from the unconstitutional search. This is called a motion to suppress evidence.
If the court agrees to suppress the evidence, the prosecution may be left with too little evidence to sustain a conviction. The D.A. may then reduce or dismiss the charges. In these types of cases, the defendant’s behavior is not as important as the police’s misbehavior.
Nevada prosecutors may be willing to lessen or drop drug charges to avoid going to trial. First-time drug defendants with minimal criminal history are more likely to receive favorable plea deals.
Many first-time defendants accused of simple possession get the opportunity to avoid jail by completing Drug Court. This is an intensive rehabilitation program. Upon successful completion, the D.A. will dismiss the case entirely.
Alternatively, the D.A. may lessen a felony drug charge to a misdemeanor under NRS 454.351. The maximum penalties include:
- 6 months in jail, and/or
- $1,000 in fines
4. Can the record be sealed?
Yes. The waiting period to seal a Nevada conviction depends on the category of crime the defendant was convicted of. But dismissed drug charges may be sealed right away.
|Nevada Ecstasy 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|
If the ecstasy charge gets lessened to a misdemeanor, the waiting period to pursue a record seal is one year after the case closes.4
Read about how to get a Nevada record seal.
5. Are there immigration consequences?
Yes, any criminal conviction involving ecstasy can lead to deportation. In fact, merely admitting to being addicted or dealing drugs makes aliens vulnerable to deportation.5 Consequently, non-citizens facing drug charges should retain a skilled immigration and criminal defense attorney without delay.
6. Related offenses
See our articles on:
- GHB and Rohypnol
- OxyContin and Vicodin
Arrested in California? Go to our informational article on California ecstasy laws.
Arrested in Colorado? Go to our informational article on Colorado ecstasy laws.