Heroin is illegal in Nevada. Specifically, it is a felony offense to possess, possess with intent to sell, sell, manufacture, or traffic the drug. However, it may be possible to plea bargain these felony charges down to a misdemeanor or even get a full dismissal.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers discuss:
- 1. What are the penalties for Nevada heroin crimes?
- 2. How do I fight the charges?
- 3. Can I plea bargain?
- 4. Can I go to trial?
- 5. Can I get the case sealed?
- 6. Can I get deported?
|Possession for personal use (first-time conviction)||category E felony: probation|
|Possession with the intent to sell it (first-time conviction)||category D felony: 1 – 4 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines|
|Selling, transporting, importing, dispensing, giving away, trading, administering, or manufacturing (first-time conviction)||category C felony: 1 – 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines|
|Trafficking (100 grams to less than 400 grams)||category B felony: 2 – 20 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines|
|Being under the influence||misdemeanor: up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. 1|
Here at Las Vegas Defense Group, we have represented literally thousands of people accused of heroin crimes. In our experience, we have found these three defenses to be especially persuasive with judges, juries and prosecutors:
- You did not know the heroin was there,
- The police entrapped you, and/or
- The police committed an unlawful search and seizure.
2.1. No knowledge of the heroin
If you genuinely had no idea that there was heroin in your actual or constructive possession, then you committed no offense.2
Example: Without Ian’s knowledge, his friend Jacob leaves a bag of heroin under Ian’s passenger seat. Since Ian has no knowledge the heroin is there, he should not be convicted of possession.
Police are legally allowed to deceive you such as by going undercover. Though police are not allowed to “entrap” you into committing a crime that you are otherwise not inclined to commit.3
Example: After Jeremy refuses an undercover police officer’s offer to buy the heroin he keeps for personal use, the officer then threatens to report Jeremy if he does not sell. Here, the officer is trying to entrap Jeremy by pressuring him into committing a crime he was not predisposed to committing.
2.3. Unlawful search and seizure
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution puts strict limits on when and how police may conduct searches and seizures. If the police overstepped their bounds, however, we can ask the court to disregard all the evidence “tainted” from the illegal search.
Example: On a tip, Officer Jeffries breaks into Owen’s house, where he finds several grams of heroin. If Oren gets arrested for selling heroin, his attorney can ask the judge to suppress the evidence because the officer failed to get a search warrant. If the judge agrees, the D.A. may be left with too weak a case to prosecute.
Prosecutors are often willing to reduce or dismiss criminal charges in order to avoid trial. Prosecutors are most generous to first-time drug possession offenders: In our experience, the state will grant probation and dismiss the case in exchange for taking a drug education class or doing Drug Court – an intensive rehabilitation program.
Another common scenario is for the D.A. to reduce a felony drug charge to a “catch-all” misdemeanor drug charge abbreviated ITS (short for “drugs which may not be introduced into interstate commerce”). ITS carries:
- up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- up to $1,000 in fines
With many ITS plea deals, you do no jail and simply pay a fine and take a drug education class.4
Yes. You always have the option to take your case to trial, though in our experience, we can settle most drug cases with a plea bargain where the original charge is reduced or possibly dismissed.
You have the option to demand a jury trial or a bench trial (where the judge delivers the verdict). Jury trials are usually preferable because judges may be more jaded and difficult to persuade than randomly selected citizens.
If your Nevada heroin charge gets dismissed (meaning there is no conviction), then your criminal record seal is available right away.5
If your Nevada heroin charge gets reduced to the misdemeanor drug offense of ITS (discussed above in question 3), you may petition the court for a record seal only one (1) year after the case ends.6
Otherwise, the wait time to commence the record seal process depends on the specific heroin offense and can range for 1 to 10 years after the case closes. 7
Yes. Legal aliens who have been convicted of any drug crime involving heroin may be deported from the U.S. Note that simply admitting to having a drug addiction or being a drug dealer can subject a non-citizen to removal from the U.S. even if you were never convicted.8
Therefore, if you are an immigrant who has been charged with any controlled substance offense should hire an experienced immigration and criminal defense attorney immediately. The attorney might be able to persuade the D.A. to drop the charge or else reduce it to a non-deportable offense.
Learn more about Nevada drug crimes. See our related articles on:
Arrested in California? Go to our information page on California heroin laws.
Arrested in Colorado? Go to our information page on Colorado heroin laws.
- NRS 453.411.
- Sanders v. State (Nev. 1994) 874 P.2d 1239 (“In order to establish that the crime of possession of a controlled substance has been committed, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had dominion and control of a controlled substance and knowledge of the presence of the controlled substance and of its illegal nature.”).
- Sheriff, Humboldt County v. Gleave (Nev. 1988) 761 P.2d 416 (“[T]his court held that “[e]ntrapment as a matter of law exists where the uncontroverted evidence shows (1) that the state furnished an opportunity for criminal conduct (2) to a person without the requisite criminal intent.”).
- NRS 454.351.
- NRS 179.255.
- NRS 179.245.
- 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B).