An Explanation and Discussion of Nevada's Burglary Laws
In NRS 205.060, the state of Nevada defines burglary as the entry into any home, business, structure, vehicle, plane or railcar with the intent to do any of the following inside:
Commit larceny or grand larceny
Commit any felony
Obtain money or property by false pretenses1
Mere "Intent" to Commit These Crimes is Sufficient Under Nevada Burglary law
To charge someone with burglary in Las Vegas or throughout Nevada, the prosecutor need not prove that the suspect actually committed any of these crimes inside the structure or vehicle. Merely having the criminal intent to do so--at the time of entry--is sufficient.
For example, suppose a suspect walks into a Las Vegas store intending to steal merchandise. He brings in a bag in which he plans to place items and then leave without paying. However, once inside he becomes frightened, or feels guilty about his plan, and decides not to steal anything.
The suspect can still be charged with burglary under Nevada law because he intended to commit larceny at the time he entered the structure, even though he never followed through on the actual theft. This assumes, of course, that the prosecutor can prove he had this intent upon entering the store.
* Note that "Larceny" under Nevada Law is the taking of property from another person without that person's consent. If the value of the property taken exceeds $650.00, the offense may be charged as "Grand Larceny" under Nevada Law.
Breaking and Entering is Not Required Under Nevada Burglary law
Under NRS 205.060, breaking and entering is not an element of Nevada's burglary law. A suspect need not engage in any sort of forced entry to be charged in a Las Vegas burglary case. He or she could enter through an open or unlocked door, or even be invited inside. If he or she enters intending to commit one of the crimes listed above, a burglary has taken place.
*Note however that if the suspect does unlawfully break and enter a structure or vehicle, the judge or jury is instructed to infer that the suspect did so with a "burglarious intent." See NRS 205.065.
Penalties for Burglary in Las Vegas Nevada
A person convicted of burglary in Nevada is guilty of a "Category B Felony" and faces punishment of between 1 year and 10 years in Nevada State Prison, plus a fine of up to $10,000. If a gun or other deadly weapon was used, the prison time is 2 to 15 years. If the defendant is a repeat offender, he/she is not eligible for probation.
If you are a non-citizen in Nevada, a burglary conviction may be enough to get you thrown out of the country as well. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your alleged burglary may qualify as an "aggravated felony" or a "crime involving moral turpitude in Nevada," which are grounds for removal from the U.S. Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys may be able to plead down your case to a non-deportable offense or modify your conviction.
Fighting a Las Vegas Burglary Charge
If you have been arrested for or charged with this offense, seek the counsel of a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer with experience fighting Nevada burglary cases. We have handled hundreds of burglary cases, both as prosecutors and defense lawyers. Many problems may exist with the state's evidence, and it may be possible to secure probation, a charge reduction or even a dismissal. Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).
No Distinction Between Residential and Commercial Burglary
California Penal Code 459 draws a distinction between first degree residential burglary and second degree commercial burglary. Burglarizing a home is more serious under California burglary law than burglarizing a business, and the penalties for the former are much stiffer. In NRS 205.060, Nevada burglary law draws no such distinction. Burglary of a home, commercial establishment or vehicle are the same class of crime, and the penalty range is the same for each.
1. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 5, a person who, by day or night, enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, vehicle, vehicle trailer, semitrailer or house trailer, airplane, glider, boat or railroad car, with the intent to commit grand or petit larceny, assault or battery on any person or any felony, or to obtain money or property by false pretenses, is guilty of burglary.
2. Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person convicted of burglary 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, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000. A person who is convicted of burglary and who has previously been convicted of burglary or another crime involving the forcible entry or invasion of a dwelling must not be released on probation or granted a suspension of sentence.
3. Whenever a burglary is committed on a vessel, vehicle, vehicle trailer, semitrailer, house trailer, airplane, glider, boat or railroad car, in motion or in rest, in this State, and it cannot with reasonable certainty be ascertained in what county the crime was committed, the offender may be arrested and tried in any county through which the vessel, vehicle, vehicle trailer, semitrailer, house trailer, airplane, glider, boat or railroad car traveled during the time the burglary was committed.
4. A person convicted of burglary who has in his or her possession or gains possession of any firearm or deadly weapon at any time during the commission of the crime, at any time before leaving the structure or upon leaving the structure, 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 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 15 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000.
5. The crime of burglary does not include the act of entering a commercial establishment during business hours with the intent to commit petit larceny unless the person has previously been convicted: (a) Two or more times for committing petit larceny within the immediately preceding 7 years; or (b) Of a felony.