Nevada – Drug Paraphernalia Charges Criminal Defense Lawyer
Drug paraphernalia charges are common in Nevada. Although possession of drug paraphernalia is only a misdemeanor, a conviction for this offense can still result in serious criminal penalties, including fines and jail time.
Under Nevada law, drug paraphernalia is defined very broadly, and includes any object or product that helps a person use illegal drugs. More specifically, NRS 453.554 defines drug paraphernalia as “all equipment, products and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.”
The most common items charged as drug paraphernalia are pipes used to smoke marijuana or methamphetamine. NRS 453.554 includes a list of things which are considered drug paraphernalia. Notably, the list includes the following:
Kits used to grow marijuana;
Drug testing kits;
Scales used to weigh drugs;
Substances used to cut cocaine;
Cocaine spoons and cocaine vials;
Various kinds of pipes including water pipes;
This is not nearly a complete list, it just outlines the most common drug paraphernalia. In determining whether something is considered drug paraphernalia, it is the intent of the person who possesses the object in question that matters. For example, a person can own various pipes so long as he intends to use them only for smoking tobacco or other legal substances. To establish intent, context and other circumstantial factors will be considered
NRS 453.556 provides a list of “factors” for a court to determine whether any given object is drug paraphernalia. Those factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
Statements the accused person made about the object e.g., that a pipe was used to smoke marijuana; prior drug convictions; whether actual drugs are found nearby; drug residue on the object; written instructions included with the object; advertising for the object or product; or expert testimony that a certain object is used in connection with drugs.
PENALTIES FOR DRUG PARAPHERNALIA
Under NRS 453.566, any person who uses drug paraphernalia or possesses drug paraphernalia with the intent to use it is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
Under NRS 453.560, selling or manufacturing drug paraphernalia is a category E felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in the Nevada State prison. Since this offense is a category E felony, probation is mandatory.
A person who is over 18 years old and gives drug paraphernalia to a minor 3 years his junior is in violation of NRS 453.562, and is guilty of a category C felony, which is punishable by 1 to 5 years in the Nevada State prison and a $10,000 fine.
Under NRS 453.564, advertising drug paraphernalia in printed media is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
DEFENDING FOR DRUG PARAPHERNALIA CHARGES
Although drug paraphernalia charges are usually misdemeanors, they can still result in substantial fines or jail time. This is true especially if the charges arise in Municipal Court.
If the offense occurs within the City of Las Vegas proper, often, people who are charged with felony possession of a controlled substance in Las Vegas Justice Court will also be charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia in Las Vegas Municipal Court . So in essence, one drug arrest can result in two criminal cases. For example, if a person is arrested while in possession of marijuana and a marijuana pipe, the marijuana charge will likely be brought in Justice Court while the paraphernalia charge will be brought in Municipal Court.
In order to convict an offender of drug paraphernalia charges, the State must not only prove that the object in question was actually drug paraphernalia, but that the offender actually possessed the item.
Persons who hold a valid Nevada Medical Marijuana card (or out of state – state issued card) are immune from prosecution for this offense, so long as the devise was used for administering medical marijuana. Under certain circumstances an affirmative defense can be raised for those not holding a state issued card but are using medical marijuana at the direction of a physician.
The court may suspend proceedings against persons who are charged with first time possession or use offenses after a finding of guilty and instead impose conditional probation which will include either a drug education or treatment program. Upon successful completion of the terms of the probation, the proceedings against the defendant will be dismissed.
Vehicles and other property may be seized for controlled substance violations. The state has 60 days after seizure to file a civil forfeiture proceeding. They must notify all those who have an interest in the property. A person with an interest in the property must file a response within 20 days of service.
Bail amounts on charges of Drug Paraphernalia depend on whether the charge is a misdemeanor, or the category of felony, but generally range from $1,000 to $3,000.
If you have been charged with Drug Paraphernalia or another marijuana related offense, please call us at 702-405-0001 for a free consultation with an attorney.