Cocaine Charges. Laws. Penalties. Defenses.


Understanding Possession of Cocaine Charges

Cocaine Charges. Laws. Penalties. Defenses.

If you are facing cocaine possession charges in Las Vegas, you need to contact the best criminal defense attorney in Las Vegas as soon as possible to defend your case. Cocaine possession convictions will stay on your record for a long time and will affect all aspects of your life - your employment, college application, and housing, just to name a few.

Heshmati & Associates Law Offices have years of experience representing people charged with cocaine possession. If you are arrested for possession of cocaine, call Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Parviz Heshmati at 702-432-1000 to discuss your case.

What is Possession of Cocaine?

Cocaine possession is defined as having custody or control of the drug cocaine. In some cases, a person can be arrested for cocaine possession without actually having custody of cocaine. Just being in a room where cocaine is consumed may be enough for an arrest.

In Nevada, the person can also be arrested if he / she was found with cocaine paraphernalia, items like:

  • Clear bags or vials,
  • Items where cocaine is hidden,
  • A flat surface with white cocaine residue,
  • Something to “chop” the cocaine,
  • A hollow tube to snort the cocaine with, usually a small piece of straw or rolled up dollar bill,
  • Cocaine needles and lighter,
  • Or using cocaine.

Factors That Affect the Penalty

The penalty for unlawful cocaine possession depends on:

  1. Drug schedule
  2. Classification of felony
  3. Drug weight (applied ONLY for cocaine drug trafficking charges; anything over 4 grams)

Drug Schedule and Charges for Cocaine

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) organized all illegal drugs into Groups or Schedules I - V.

Cocaine is a Schedule II drug and has a high potential for abuse.

Classification of Felony and Charges for Cocaine

The first and second offense of cocaine possession less than 4 grams is a Category E felony.

The third and any subsequent cocaine possession less than 4 grams is a Category D felony.

Classification of Felony Sentence
Category E Felony Up to 1 year in jail + fine up to $5,000
Category D Felony 1-4 years in Nevada state prison + fine up to $20,000

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Drug Weight and Charges for Cocaine

In Nevada, cocaine weight is applied ONLY for cocaine trafficking charges and trafficking charges are based solely on weight. The court does not differentiate whether the cocaine was for personal use or for sales. Also, it is very important to note that the government is allowed to include the weight of the packaging in the overall weight of the cocaine a person possesses.

Classification Weight
Low-Level At least 4 grams but less than 14 grams
Mid-Level At last 14 grams but less than 28 grams
High-Level Everything over 28 grams

Aggravating Factors for Cocaine Possession

There are many things that can aggravate your cocaine possession charge.

First, the place where the person was arrested. The penalties are stiffer, if the arrest happened in a Drug Free Zone (which is usually around the school area), near the drug treatment facility, or on a federal property or land.

Second, if a gun or any other weapon was found on a person during the arrest. Having a firearm will add to the penalties.

Third, if a child was present while cocaine was consumed.

Forth, if it is NOT your first arrest for cocaine possession.

Finally, if police found multiple cocaine baggies, cash, transaction ledgers, the person may be charged with cocaine possession with intent to sell.

Is Cocaine Possession a Felony in Nevada?

Yes, possession of cocaine is a felony in Nevada. In fact, the arrest for ANY illegal drug is a felony in Nevada with the exception of marijuana. Found in very small amounts marijuana possession could be a misdemeanor. Call Heshmati & Associates at 702-432-1000 for details.

Defenses to Cocaine Charges

There are many defenses available for the cocaine possession charge. If you are arrested in Las Vegas hotel or casino, the most popular defense is a "chain of custody" defense. "Chain of custody" requires the prosecutor to show that once seized, the cocaine or paraphernalia have been under the control or dominion of the state and nobody tampered with the evidence while in the state's custody. Often, the hotel security doesn't handle all protocols correctly and the evidence becomes inadmissible in court.

If you think the "Chain of Custody" defense may apply in your case, contact the Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Parviz Heshmati at 702-432-1000.

Other available defenses include:

  • Dissecting the details of the police search and arrest,
  • Dissecting the details of the vehicle stop or personal stop,
  • Testimonies of unreliable witnesses.

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Nevada Drug Courts

Sometimes cocaine possession charges may result in Nevada Drug Court as an alternative to incarceration.

Nevada Drug Court, a six drug rehabilitation programs, that are used to avoid prison for many drug offenses. Cocaine possession is one of them. The "Drug Court Program," as it is called, is a condition of probation which allows the courts to monitor the defendant's behavior without putting him/her in jail.

Heshmati & Associates:
Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

The firm of Heshmati & Associates has experience defending people charged with possession of cocaine and have been very successful in reducing this charge and, sometimes, dismissed. Criminal defense attorney Parviz Heshmati received many awards for his legal practice in criminal defense.

Understanding cocaine charges can be very confusing. Not every fact is black and white. Each case is different. Without knowing the circumstances surrounding your arrest it is hard to provide recommendations. Call us with any questions you may have.

If you have been arrested for cocaine possession in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Laughlin, Mesquite, and throughout Nevada, call 702-432-1000 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Additional Resources: Cocaine Possession

Clark County Drug Courts - Cocaine Possession. The goal of the program is to provide a positive alternative to incarceration. Available for adults and juveniles.

Cocaine Anonymous. Cocaine Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who are recovering from their cocaine addiction.

Drug Enforcement Administration or DEA. DEA enforces the controlled substances laws and regulations of the US. DEA provides detailed and up-to-date information regarding Schedule II drugs.

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Phone: 702-432-1000

Fax: 702-446-6776

Heshmati & Associates
515 S. 7th Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101-6903

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