Nevada's "Housebreaking" Law (NRS 205.0813)
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers

broken window in doorframe

The Crime of "Housebreaking" in Nevada

“Housebreaking” is the crime of entering a vacant dwelling for the purpose of unlawful residency (“squatting”). It is similar to the crime of burglary in that it involves the forcible entry of a building.

However, NRS 205.0813, Nevada's law on housebreaking, is more limited in nature. Under NRS 205.0813 you commit the Nevada crime of housebreaking when:

  1. You forcibly enter an uninhabited or vacant dwelling, and
  2. You know or have reason to believe that such entry is without the permission of the owner or an authorized representative, and
  3. You have the intent to take up residence or provide a residency to another.1

For purposes of Nevada's housebreaking statute, “dwelling” is defined as a structure or part thereof that is designed or intended for occupancy as a residence or sleeping place.2

Examples of dwellings include (but are not limited to): houses, houseboats, motor homes, guest houses, hotel rooms and dormitories.

Under NRS 205.0813, it is irrelevant whether you actually take up residency or you just enter with the purpose of doing so. It is the entry itself that is illegal.

Housebreaking and "squatting" charges

Housebreaking is often charged along with unlawful occupancy ("squatting", NRS  205.0817) or unlawful reentry (NRS 205.082).

You commit unlawful occupancy when you actually follow-through on your intent to occupy a vacant dwelling. You unlawfully reenter a dwelling when you have been prohibited from entering a dwelling -- for instance, because you have been evicted -- but you illegally enter anyway.

Penalties for Nevada housebreaking

 A first housebreaking offense is a Nevada gross misdemeanor. Punishment can include:

  • Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • A fine of up to $2,000.3

A second or subsequent housebreaking offense is a Nevada category D felony. Penalties can include:

  • 1-4 years in Nevada state prison, and
  • maybe a fine of up to $5,000.4 

In addition, if you have previously been convicted three or more times of housebreaking, the court must sentence you to prison. Probation or a suspended sentence is not an option for a fourth or subsequent housebreaking conviction.5

Defenses to housebreaking

The best defense to Nevada housebreaking depends on the facts of your case. But common defenses often include:

  • The building was not a dwelling.
  • You didn't forcibly enter the dwelling.
  • You had, or reasonably thought you had, permission to enter.
  • You didn't intend to take up residence or provide residence to another.
  • You were the victim of mistaken identification.

Arrested for housebreaking in Las Vegas or Reno? Call us for help…

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If you or someone you know has been accused of housebreaking, squatting, unlawful re-entry, or burglary, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.

Our caring Las Vegas, Nevada criminal defense lawyers understand how unfair police and prosecutors can be when it comes to trying to prevent squatting. But we fight back just as hard.

To schedule your free consultation fill out the form on this page or call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). An experienced lawyer will get back to you promptly to discuss your case and the best defense to your Nevada housebreaking charges.


Legal references:

  1. NRS 205.0813(1).
  2. NRS 205.081.
  3. NRS 193.140.
  4. NRS 193.130.
  5. NRS 205.0813(3).

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