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Nevada’s Controlled Substance Laws: Obtaining and Penalties Explained

Title: Understanding Controlled Substance Laws in Nevada: Unlawful Obtaining and PenaltiesIn the state of Nevada, laws regarding the acquisition and possession of controlled substances or prescription drugs are strict to ensure public safety and control substance abuse. Violation of these laws can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment and fines.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of Nevada’s laws surrounding the unlawful obtaining of controlled substances or prescriptions, as well as potential penalties and plea bargains.

Unlawful Obtaining of Controlled Substances or Prescriptions

Unlawful Obtaining of Controlled Substances or Prescriptions

Unlawfully acquiring controlled substances or prescriptions is a serious offense in Nevada. NRS 453.391 outlines the doctor shopping law, which prohibits individuals from obtaining multiple controlled substances or prescriptions from different practitioners within a specified time frame.

This law aims to prevent individuals from fraudulently acquiring an unnecessary quantity of drugs. The term “unlawful taking” refers to any unauthorized acquisition or transfer of controlled substances or prescriptions.

This includes actions such as forging prescriptions, altering prescriptions, or obtaining medications through deceitful means. Doctor shopping can lead to an individual obtaining controlled substances from multiple sources, thereby increasing the risk of misuse, addiction, and illegal drug trafficking.

Prohibited Actions

Various professionals, including manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacists, physicians, physician assistants, dentists, advanced practice registered nurses, veterinarians, and other healthcare practitioners, are responsible for handling controlled substances. It is illegal for them to administer, dispense, or possess controlled substances outside the scope of their professional duties.

Additionally, the law requires pharmacists and providers to disclose any relevant information pertaining to controlled substances to prevent misuse and diversion. Failure to comply with these reporting requirements can lead to legal consequences for the involved individuals.


Category C Felony

Violating NRS 453.391, the aforementioned doctor shopping law, is considered a category C felony in Nevada. A category C felony is a serious offense, and those convicted may face severe penalties, including imprisonment and hefty fines.

Offenders can be sentenced to a term ranging from 1 to 5 years in the Nevada State Prison, along with fines of up to $10,000.

Potential Plea Bargains

In some cases, individuals facing charges related to the unlawful obtaining of controlled substances or prescriptions may have the opportunity to negotiate a plea bargain with the District Attorney’s office. A plea bargain involves the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge or receiving a reduced sentence in exchange for cooperation or other agreed-upon terms.

Plea bargains may involve charge reduction, dismissal of certain charges, or alternative sentencing options, such as drug rehabilitation programs instead of imprisonment. The availability of plea bargains depends on the specific circumstances of the case and the discretion of the District Attorney.


Understanding Nevada’s laws regarding the unlawful obtaining of controlled substances or prescriptions is crucial for both individuals and healthcare professionals. Violating these laws can have severe consequences that can negatively impact one’s life.

By being informed, individuals can make better choices, contributing to a safer and healthier society. Note: Please note that this article does not provide legal advice.

It is important to consult with a qualified attorney or legal professional for specific questions and guidance regarding controlled substance laws in Nevada.


Lawful Prescription

When facing charges related to the unlawful obtaining of controlled substances or prescriptions in Nevada, it is essential to understand the potential defenses available. One common defense is demonstrating that the acquisition of controlled substances or prescriptions was lawful.

This can be done by presenting evidence of a valid and legitimate prescription from a licensed healthcare provider. Individuals who possess controlled substances obtained over-the-counter may also have a defense if they mistakenly believed that they were acting within the bounds of the law.

It is crucial to note that this defense would not apply if the person knew or should have known that the substances in question were controlled substances.

Oversight Defense

Another defense strategy in cases involving the unlawful obtaining of controlled substances or prescriptions is the oversight defense. If the defendant can show that their actions were a result of innocent forgetfulness or lack of knowledge, they may argue that they did not act “knowingly” or with the intent to commit a crime.

For instance, if an individual inadvertently possesses a controlled substance without a prescription due to an oversight or misunderstanding, they may argue that they were not aware of the illegal nature of their actions. However, establishing the oversight defense can be challenging, as it requires demonstrating a genuine lack of knowledge or intent to violate the law.

Police Entrapment

In some cases, where the police induce or entice individuals to engage in unlawful activities they would otherwise not have committed, the defense of entrapment may be applicable. If the defendant can prove that law enforcement officers unlawfully induced them to obtain controlled substances or prescriptions, they may argue that their actions were a direct result of police entrapment.

To establish an entrapment defense, it must be shown that the police officer’s actions went beyond providing an opportunity or mere suggestion, and they actively coerced or encouraged the defendant to commit the offense. However, it is important to consult with a qualified attorney to determine the viability of this defense, as entrapment cases can be complex and difficult to prove.

Immigration Consequences

Aggravated Felony and Moral Turpitude

Immigration consequences are a crucial consideration for individuals facing charges related to the unlawful obtaining of controlled substances or prescriptions in Nevada. Certain convictions can have severe implications for non-U.S. citizens, potentially leading to deportation or denial of legal status.

Convictions categorized as aggravated felonies under immigration law can result in deportation. While the definition of an aggravated felony is specific to immigration law, crimes involving drug trafficking or related offenses are often considered aggravated felonies.

Similarly, crimes involving moral turpitude, such as fraud or deceit offenses, can also trigger deportation consequences.

Defense Strategies for Immigration Cases

In immigration cases involving charges of the unlawful obtaining of controlled substances or prescriptions, certain defense strategies may be available to minimize the immigration consequences. One potential approach is negotiating a charge reduction to a non-deportable offense.

By working with an experienced attorney and collaborating with the District Attorney’s office, it may be possible to reach an agreement that reduces the charges to a level that does not trigger deportation consequences for non-U.S. citizens. Additionally, mounting a strong defense to challenge the charges and seek a dismissal can be an effective strategy.

This can involve arguing that the evidence against the defendant is insufficient or identifying constitutional or procedural violations that invalidate the case. In immigration cases, it is crucial to work with an attorney who understands both immigration law and the criminal justice system to navigate the complex intersection of the two.

Seeking professional legal counsel is essential to develop a defense strategy tailored to the specific circumstances of the case and to protect an individual’s immigration status. Note: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

If facing charges related to the unlawful obtaining of controlled substances or prescriptions and concerned about immigration consequences, it is strongly recommended to consult with an experienced immigration attorney.

Sealing Records

Record Sealing After Conviction

In Nevada, individuals who have been convicted of offenses related to the unlawful obtaining of controlled substances or prescriptions may have the opportunity to seal their criminal records. Sealing records allows individuals to limit public access to their criminal history, providing them with a fresh start and increased opportunities for employment, housing, and other areas of life.

To be eligible for record sealing, a certain period of time must have passed since the completion of the sentence. In the case of convictions related to the unlawful obtaining of controlled substances or prescriptions, the waiting period is typically five years from the date of discharge or release.

It’s important to note that this waiting period starts once all aspects of the sentence, including probation and fines, have been completed. Petitioning for record sealing involves the submission of a formal request to the court.

The individual seeking record sealing must provide evidence of good conduct and rehabilitation during the waiting period. Additionally, certain offenses may be ineligible for sealing, especially those categorized as violent or sexual offenses.

Record Sealing After Dismissal

Even if charges relating to the unlawful obtaining of controlled substances or prescriptions are dismissed or the individual is acquitted, the arrest and court proceedings can still appear on their criminal record. However, in Nevada, it is possible to have these records sealed through a record seal process.

To initiate the record sealing process after dismissal, the individual must file a petition with the court. The court will review the petition and consider various factors, including the circumstances of the case, rehabilitation efforts, and the impact of the criminal records on the individual’s life.

If the court grants the petition, the records related to the arrest and court proceedings will be effectively sealed, offering the individual a chance to move forward without the stigma of the arrest. It is important to note that even if records are sealed, specific entities such as law enforcement agencies, certain licensing boards, and government entities may still have access to sealed records under certain circumstances.

However, for most practical purposes, the sealing of records will greatly limit public access to the information.

Related Offenses

Health Care Fraud

Health care fraud involves deceitfully obtaining financial benefits through fraudulent means within the health care system. This offense can range from intentionally billing insurance companies for services not provided to patients to fabricating medical documentation.

Health care fraud not only undermines the integrity of the health care system but also contributes to rising costs and affects patient care. Perpetrators of health care fraud can be prosecuted under state and federal laws.

The penalties for health care fraud vary depending on the severity of the offense and the amount of financial loss caused. Convictions can result in significant fines, imprisonment, and the loss of professional licenses.

Unlawful Prescribing by Medical Providers

Medical professionals who unlawfully prescribe controlled substances, possess them without proper authorization, or engage in unauthorized transport and dispensing violate Nevada Law (NRS 453.381). These offenses not only endanger public health but also contribute to the illicit drug trade and potential substance abuse issues.

Prosecution for unlawful prescribing of controlled substances is taken seriously in Nevada. The penalties for medical providers can include criminal charges, loss of professional licenses, and hefty fines.

Authorities closely monitor and investigate any suspected irregularities, ensuring the appropriate accountability and protecting public safety.

Drug Possession

In addition to unlawfully obtaining controlled substances or prescriptions, the possession of controlled substances without a valid prescription is a separate offense in Nevada. NRS 453.336 outlines the laws surrounding drug possession, including various categories of controlled substances and their associated penalties.

The penalties for drug possession vary depending on factors such as the type and quantity of drugs involved, any prior drug-related offenses, and the intent of possession. Convictions can result in imprisonment, fines, mandatory drug education or rehabilitation programs, and the suspension of driving privileges.

It is crucial to note that drug possession charges can have far-reaching consequences, including impacts on employment opportunities, educational prospects, and personal relationships. Seeking legal guidance is essential when facing drug possession charges to explore possible defense strategies and mitigate potential long-term consequences.

Note: This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. If facing specific legal situations related to record sealing, health care fraud, unlawful prescribing, or drug possession, it is important to consult with an attorney experienced in the relevant area of law to receive professional guidance tailored to one’s individual circumstances.

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