Las Vegas Drug Court is a rehabilitation program that some first-time drug defendants may do instead of Nevada State Prison. Upon successful completion, the narcotics charge will be completely dismissed.
Las Vegas Drug Court is meant to help you rather than punish you if you are suffering from addiction. As long as you follow through, you will avoid a criminal record.
Below our Nevada criminal defense lawyers answer the top 10 frequently-asked-questions about Drug Court in Las Vegas.
1. What is Drug Court in Las Vegas?
It is a rehabilitative alternative to prison in low-level narcotics cases.
There are various different drug court programs in Las Vegas. Each offers specialized support according to age, gender, history, and parental status:
- Adult Drug Court (ADC): 18-month court-supervised inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment program.
- Felony DUI (FDUI): Three-to-five year intensive treatment and community supervision for people with at least three DUI charges within seven years.
- Juvenile Drug Court: There are four programs for under-18 youths with narcotics problems:
- Pre-Adjudication Diversion Program: 90-day program offering substance abuse and mental health counseling;
- First STEP: 90-day intensive substance abuse program;
- STEP Court: 9 month+ substance abuse program; or
- Transitional Program: 90-day program for youth transitioning into the community.
- Veterans Court: A court-supervised outpatient treatment for veterans convicted of a felony.
- Family Treatment Court: A court-supervised comprehensive outpatient substance abuse treatment geared for parents with children in the child welfare system.
- Transitional Age Drug Court Program (TAP): A minimum 18-month supervised comprehensive inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment program for people 18 to 26 years old.
- Law Enforcement Intervention for Mental Health and Addition (LIMA) Diversion Program: A pre-booking diversion program that spans at least 9 months.
- Co-Occuring Disorders Court: Treatment for people with both mental health and substance use disorders.1
2. Who is eligible?
Las Vegas Drug Court is open to you if you are an addict facing a first-time charge of either:
- Felony possession (NRS 453.336),
- Unlawful drug use (NRS 453.411), or
- Misdemeanor possession (NRS 453.351)
Non-addicts may also be able to avoid prison and a conviction for a first-time drug offense. Though instead of doing rehab, you could just take a drug education class. This typically lasts only eight hours.2
3. What are the benefits?
Las Vegas Drug Court allows you to go on with your life because there is no prison. Upon completion, the narcotics charge will be dismissed. Having a clean criminal record will greatly improve future employment prospects.3
4. What is Las Vegas Drug Court like?
In general, the program proceeds through four “phases”:
- Phase I: Orientation and early intervention:
- Orientation and intake
- Random urinalysis (UA)
- Counseling and classes
- Either remaining employed or receiving SSI or SSD
- Completion of Action Plan for Relapse
- Phase II: Therapeutic and education:
- Counseling three times a week (group and individual)
- 60 days of clean drug testing
- Phase III: Therapeutic process:
- Counseling twice a week (group and individual)
- Community service project for four hours per week
- Phase IV: Therapeutic Maintenance:
- Counseling once a week (group and individual)
- Mentoring a new Drug Court participant for 90 days
- 180 days of sobriety
- Completing pre-graduation packet at least 30 days before graduation
You may also have to make regular court appearances at the Eighth Judicial District Court of Clark County, located at:
Regional Justice Center
200 Lewis Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89155
5. How long does it last?
Usually one year. Though requirements for Las Vegas Drug Court may vary depending on the circumstances.
6. How much does it cost?
Las Vegas Drug Court costs about $1,500. Though there may be additional court fees and costs.
7. What is the process of getting into Las Vegas Drug Court?
The defense attorney will confer with the prosecutors to take care of the technicalities. Though the process under NRS 453.3363 goes like this:
- You plead guilty or “no contest” to the drug charge.
- The judge declines to convict. Instead, the judge suspends the case by putting you on probation.
- You complete the applicable rehab program in about a year.
- Upon completion, the judge dismisses the case.4
8. What happens if I break the rules?
Judges may punish non-compliance by throwing you out of rehab. This means that you would be convicted of the original narcotics charge and probably then face incarceration.
In practice most judges give second chances and punish mistakes by ordering:
- Community service;
- Increased judicial supervision and/or counseling;
- House arrest; and/or
- A short jail term.5
9. What happens when I finish Las Vegas Drug Court?
The drug case will be completely dismissed, and the case will be sealed. In other words, you will not have a conviction.6
However, if you get charged again, your dismissed drug charge will count as a prior conviction. Therefore, the punishment for the new drug charge will be harsher.
There is usually a small graduation ceremony celebrating finishing rehab.
10. Can I keep my old drug charge a secret?
If you graduate from Las Vegas Drug Court, you may legally deny — even under oath — that you were charged with drug use or possession.7
However, there are certain times you do need to reveal your past drug charges. 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.
- Clark County, NV Substance Abuse Courts: An explanation of all the different substance abuse courts offered in Las Vegas.
- Las Vegas Municipal Court Substance Abuse Program: A drug education program a Las Vegas Muni judge may order in lieu of jail.
- Narcotics Anonymous: An AA-type program for addiction to controlled substances. It uses a 12-step program to aid people to defeat substance abuse.
Arrested for drugs? We can help…
Would you like to explore doing a drug diversion program in Nevada? Call us to discuss your options. We will set up a 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.
- NRS 176.0613. Eighth Judicial District Court Specialty Court Programs, Nevada. Drug Court Articles, Nevada Supreme Court. Specialty Courts, Las Vegas Municipal Courts.
- See same.
- See same.
- See same. See, for example, Locker v. State (2022) .
- See, for example, Newman v. State (2016) .
- See note 1. NRS 176.211.
- NRS 179.285.