ADMINISTRATION OF DRUGS TO AID IN THE COMMISSION OF A FELONY OR VIOLENT CRIME
Administration of drugs to aid in the commission of a felony or violent crime can carry harsh punishments depending on what crime the accused was intending to commit.
What is the legal definition of Administration of drugs to aid in the commission of a felony or violent crime?
Administration of drugs to aid in the commission of a felony or violent crime is actually two separate crime that are often combined as one.
Administration of drugs to aid in the commission of a felony is defined in NRS 200.405:
Unless a greater penalty is provided in NRS 200.408, a person who administers to another person any chloroform, ether, laudanum, or any other controlled substance, anesthetic, or intoxicating or emetic agent, with the intent thereby to enable or assist himself or herself or any other person to commit a felony, is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 10 years.
Administration of drugs to aid in the commission of a violent crime is defined in NRS 200.408:
- A person who causes to be administered to another person any controlled substance without that person’s knowledge and with the intent thereby to enable or assist himself or herself or any other person to commit a crime of violence against that person or the property of that person, is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 20 years.
- As used in this section:
- “Controlled substance” includes flunitrazepam and gamma-hydroxybutyryate and each substance for which flunitrazepam or gamma-hydroxybutyrate is an immediate precursor as defined in NRS 453.086.
- “Crime of violence” means:
- Any offense involving the use or threatened use of force or violence against the person or property of another; or
- Any felony for which there is a substantial risk that force or violence may be used against the person or property of another in the commission of the felony.
- “Without a person’s knowledge” means the person is unaware that a substance that can alter the person’s ability to appraise conduct or to decline participation in or communicate an unwillingness to participate in conduct has been administered to the person.
What does all of that mean?
This is a pretty easy pair of crimes to understand because the title says everything you need to know about the crime; if you use drugs to help you, or another person, in the commission of a crime, then you are guilty of a felony.
What is flunitrazepam and gamma-hydroxybutyryate?
Flunitrazepam is another name for Rohypnol – which is often referred to as “roofies” in popular culture. Gamma-hydroxybutyrate is more commonly known in its abbreviated form of GHB.
What does it mean by “their immediate precursor”?
Writing laws that prohibit specific drugs creates loopholes that allow drug manufacturers to create chemically similar substances that are just slightly different than the outlawed substance. For example, Rohypnol is one of a group of drugs known as “benzodiazepines”, which are essentially sedatives and/or hypnotics. There are dozens of different benzodiazepines which are chemically very similar to flunitrazepam/rohypnol. Also, any drug that whose chemical make-up can be easily converted into a benzodiazepine is also considered an “immediate precursor,” because such a drug is, by definition, a ‘precursor’ to the benzodiazepine family of narcotics.
By outlawing Rohypnol and its immediate predecessors, lawmakers are able to charge any drug that is classified as a benzodiazepine. Similarly, any drug that is chemically similar to, or which can be easily made into, GHB, would fall under the laws as an “immediate precursor.”
It is important to note, however, that the drugs that apply to NRS 200.405 are different than those that apply to NRS 200.408. The use of Rohypnol and GHB, as well as their immediate precursors, will violate NRS 200.408 and 200.405. However, NRS 200.405 also applies to the use of chloroform, ether, laudanum, anesthetics, intoxicating or emetic agents, and any other “controlled substance”, which would include both illegal drugs and prescription medications.
In other words, if you use a substance to alter the perception or inhibition of another person for the purpose of committing a felony, then you would be guilty of violating NRS 200.405.
Please Note : It does not matter who actually commits the underlying crime. If you have used drugs to lower another person’s inhibitions in order to convince them to commit the crime, then you can be charged with the Administration of drugs to aid in the commission of a crime, in conjunction with possibly being charged with the crime itself, as an accomplice to the crime itself, or conspiracy to commit the crime.
What if the drug is not listed as a controlled substance under NRS 200.408, but is used for a violent crime?
If you administer a drug that is not listed as a “controlled substance” under NRS 200.408 (or NRS 43.086, which defines “immediate precursor”), for the purpose of aiding you in committing a violent crime, then you would not be liable under NRS 200.408.
However, remember that if the crime you are committing is a felony, then you would still be liable under NRS 200.405.
If the violent crime is not a felony, there are still a number of possible crimes that you can be charged with:
Aiding and abetting/Accomplice liability – If the crime actually takes place, then you will likely be charged as an accomplice to the crime, which would carry the same possible penalties as the crime itself (For a more detailed explanation of aiding and abetting/accomplice liability, please click here);
Conspiracy to commit the crime – Conspiracy may be charged based on there being two people involved in the commission of the crime. Regardless of one co-conspirator’s altered state-of-mind, the fact that two people had agreed to the commission would allow the prosecutor to pursue Conspiracy charges against the person who administered the mind-altering drug (For a more detailed explanation of Conspiracy, please click here);
Battery – Battery is, simply, the harmful or offensive touching of another person. The touching does not have to be a physical touch from one person to the other, either; It only requires that the person committing the battery intentionally cause something to touch the other person. In this case, by intending that the controlled substance or drug be ingested by the other person without their knowledge, battery is an appropriate charge.
- Assault – Assault requires that the victim have knowledge of an immediate harmful or offensive touching. With regard to NRS 200.405 and .408, assault would essentially be an attempted battery. This might arise if someone were to attempt to use chloroform or either to incapacitate someone, and the victim sees and avoids the intended administration of the drug without being touched.
What are the possible penalties?
A violation of NRS 200.405 is a category B felony and carries with it possible penalties of:
- Between 1 and 10 years in a Nevada State Prison.
A violation of NRS 200.408 is also a category B felony. However it carries with it the harsher penalty of
- Between 1 and 20 years in a Nevada State Prison.
The reason for the differing penalties is the more specific circumstances that lead to a charge under NRS 200.408. Because NRS 200.408 applies only when controlled substances are used and the crime is a violent crime, it carries harsher penalties. NRS 200.405, on the other hand, can apply when less harmful drugs and/or less violent crimes are involved.
Please Note: If NRS 200.408 applies and the underlying crime can be charged as a felony, then you can be charged with both crimes.
Please Also Note: These crimes do not take the place of the underlying crime. So any charges against you for violation of NRS 200.405 and/or .408 are likely to be in addition to charges of the underlying crime, and may also include charges of possession of a controlled substance depending on what drug was used.
Are there any Defenses?
The possible defenses to the Administration of Drugs to aid in the commission of a felony or violent crime will depend on the specific circumstances of your case, but may include:
No Intent to Commit a Crime – As may be obvious from the names of these crimes, NRS 200.405 and .408 can only be applied if you administered the drugs with the intent that they aid in the commission of a crime. In other words, if the prosecution cannot prove that you administered the drugs with the intent to take advantage of the victim’s altered state of mind to carry out a crime, then you these charges should be dropped or dismissed.
Please Note: However, this does not mean that any other charges against you will not stand. Charges relating to the use and administration to illegal drugs or controlled substances may still apply as will any charges relating to the underlying crime (if any).
Consent to Taking the Drugs – This defense applies only to NRS 200.408 because the statute specifically states that the administration of the drug or controlled substance be “without the victim’s knowledge.” Consequently, if the victim willingly takes the drug or controlled substance, then 200.408 cannot apply.
Please Note: If the victim is aware that they are taking the drug, but is not willingly taking the drug, such as being forced to ingest the drug under duress, then this defense will still apply, but will give rise to other possible charges such as battery, and other defenses to the underlying crime, such as duress.
Please Also Note: It is absolutely not a defense to either crime to say that the victim consented to committing the underlying crime after taking the drug or controlled substance. These statutes exist because Nevada has determined that someone under the influence of one of the above-referenced drugs is incapable of adequately consenting. Consequently, someone who administers GHB or Rohypnol is still guilty of sexual assault even though the other person consented to having sex, so long as they were unaware of their ingestion of the controlled substance.
Reasonable doubt – As with any crime, the prosecutor must prove every element of these crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot do so, then the charges against you should be dropped or dismissed.
What should I do if I’ve been charged with Administration of Drugs to Aid in the Commission of a Felony or Violent Crime?
As with any crime, it is very important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can discuss the specific circumstances as well as any defenses that may apply to your case.