Cocaine Charges in Nevada
Cocaine, known as blow or powder, is an illegal substance throughout the country, and in Nevada it is classified as a Schedule I drug. This means the substance has a high potential for abuse and no proven medical use in the U.S. Nevada has several laws banning its sale, distribution and possession.
Possession of CocaineIn Nevada, a person can be charged with possession under NRS 453.336 if he or she knowingly or intentionally possesses a controlled substance. In these cases, possession can be defined as either actual, which means having it physically on the person, or constructive. Constructive possession means the substance was in an area in which the person had control, such as his or her vehicle. Charges and penalties for possession vary based on a variety of factors, including whether the person has previously been convicted. A first possession offense could be considered a Category D felony, punishable by up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000 or both. A second offense could be a Category C felony, punishable by up to five year in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 or both. A third or subsequent offense could be considered a Class B felony, which could carry between three and 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000 for each offense.
Possession with Intent to Sell CocainePossession with intent to sell cocaine under NRS 453.322 often is a more complicated charge compared to simple possession. With these charges, law enforcement must prove the alleged offender not only possessed the narcotic, but he or she intended to profit from the illegal substance. Officers typically rely on certain evidence to prove the person planned to distribute the drugs, such as drug paraphernalia. For instance, if a person is found with a large amount of cocaine, as well as packaging material and large amounts of cash, police likely will infer he or she was selling or planning to sell the cocaine. This charge could be considered a Category B felony, which could carry up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $100,000 or both.
Trafficking CocaineDrug trafficking in Nevada is generally defined as the manufacture, delivery, sale or importation of illegal drugs across state or national borders or throughout the state. However, this only applies to Schedule I drugs, such as cocaine, and those placed in the Schedule I category. According to NRS 453.3385, a person can be charged with trafficking in Schedule I controlled substances if he or she knowingly or intentionally sells, manufactures, delivers or brings into Nevada any Schedule I controlled substances. Penalties for this offense are largely based on the schedule of the drug and the amount involved in the offense. For instance, trafficking between four and 14 grams of cocaine would be a Class B felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine up to $50,000. Trafficking between 14 and 28 grams would be a Class B felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Trafficking 28 grams or more would be a Class A felony, punishable by life in prison with the possibility of parole and up to $500,000 in fines.
Federal Cocaine ChargesThe federal government also has laws prohibiting the sale and possession of cocaine throughout the country. However, those charged with cocaine offenses most often are done so on the state level. When a person faces federal charges for cocaine it most likely would be for trafficking in large amounts. According to 21 U.S.C. Section 807 et seq., it is a federal offense to manufacture, import, distribute or traffic controlled substances with the intent to sell either across state borders, throughout the state or from a foreign country into Nevada. The penalties for federal cocaine trafficking charges also vary based on the schedule of the drug and the alleged offender's prior history. Drug trafficking convictions can result in mandatory minimum sentences and fines that can range into millions of dollars.