The Defenders Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

Part 2 – Overhauls to the Nevada Criminal Laws

The Nevada legislature made big changes to the criminal justice system in the state.  In our last post, we covered a portion of changes made by Assembly Bill 236 (AB236).  This post continues that discussion.  AB236 has been signed into law by the Governor and will take effect July 1, 2020.

Main Provisions of the new law (continued)

Credit Card Scanning Devices

Existing law makes it a crime to access, read, obtain, memorize, or store information encoded on the magnetic strip of a payment card: without permission of the authorized user of the card, and with intent to defraud the user or card issuer or any other person.  It is also a crime under existing law to possess a scanning device with intent to use it for an unlawful purpose.

The new law makes it a crime for a person to install or affix a scanning device on a machine used for financial transactions with the intent to use the scanning device for an unlawful purpose.  It is also a crime to access by electronic or other means a scanning device with unlawful intent.  Persons who install, affix or access a scanning device without unlawful intent, in the ordinary course of their business, or to complete a transaction are exempt.

Controlled Substances Convictions Reclassified

Under current Nevada law, certain acts having to do with controlled or counterfeit substances were considered: Category B Felonies for first offense for substances on the DEA Schedules I and II, and Category C Felonies for first offenses for substances classified as III, IV or V on the DEA Schedules.

The new law reduces the Category Classifications to Category C and D respectively.  This results in lower sentences for those found guilty of those crimes.  Probation, which is precluded for these acts under current law, will now generally be available if mitigating circumstances exist.

New Weight requirements for Trafficking Controlled Substances violations

Current law prohibits trafficking of DEA Schedule I controlled substances other than marijuana, marijuana or concentrated cannabis, and Schedule II controlled substances.  The penalties for such acts varied depending on which substance was being trafficked.

Under the new law, two classifications: low level trafficking, and high level trafficking are established, with revised weights of controlled substances to determine the penalties.

Use and Possession of controlled substances law revised

Existing law makes it unlawful to use or be under the influence of a controlled substance other than for use under a legitimate prescription.  Violations of these laws result in penalties from Gross Misdemeanor to Category E Felony depending on which DEA Schedule on which the substance is listed.  The new law classifies all violations of use of a controlled substance to Misdemeanors regardless of schedule.

Possession of controlled substances under the new law is classified by Low-Level Possession, Mid-Level Possession, and High-Level Possession depending upon the quantity and Schedule of the controlled substance possessed.  The new law also forbids low-level possession crimes or unlawful use from being considered to determine if a person is a habitual criminal.

Certain Felony Crime Categories Reduced

Skimmer Crime, Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance, Gaming Crime, and Odometer Crimes (i.e. unlawfully changing an Odometer) have been reclassified from Category B Felonies to Category C Felonies and associated sentences for such crimes are reduced as a result.

Definition of a Habitual Criminal Revised

Under current law, you are considered a habitual criminal if convicted again of a felony after 2 previous felony convictions.  Under the new law, you will be considered a habitual criminal if convicted again after 5 previous convictions.

Miscellaneous Provisions

The rest of the bill covers miscellaneous directions to the Department of Prisons and addresses residential confinement, medical release of prisoners, geriatric parole, and early discharge of certain prisoners.

The Parole Board has certain provisions relaxed concerning granting of parole, and for re-entry plans to be drawn up 6 months prior to release, which includes providing photo identification cards, clothing, transportation costs, enrollment to a transitional living facility in certain cases, completed paperwork for Medicaid or Medicare, and 30 day supply of prescribed medications.

Other provisions provide for changes to procedures of the Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission, and tracking of savings under the new law by various state agencies to measure effectiveness of the new law.

The Defenders is tracking changes to the criminal justice overhaul

AB236 represents the most sweeping change to criminal law penalties and procedures in the history of Nevada.  Our lawyers will continue to track this and other changes to criminal law which resulted from the just ended 2019 Legislative Session.  The Defenders team are committed to providing the most knowledgeable and aggressive defense for our clients.  If you have been charged with breaking criminal law, call us today to discuss your case at (702) 333-3333.

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