Nevada "Dog fighting" Laws (NRS 574.060 & 574.070)
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

Dog fighting can be a federal or state crime with penalties amounting to years in prison and thousands in fines.

Dog fighting is a form of animal cruelty in Nevada and therefore highly illegal.  The penalties for running or watching a dog fight include fines and prison.  But an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer may be able to get the entire case dismissed or reduced to a minor charge that carries less of a social stigma.

This article explains the Nevada laws governing dog fighting.  Scroll down to read the definition of dog fighting, potential ways to fight the charges, and possible penalties should there be a conviction.

Definition

Dogfighting is an organized fight between two or more dogs, sometimes until the death.  People may gather to watch and gamble on these fights.  These dogs are often bred to fight and sustain debilitating injuries and slow, painful deaths.  The following dog fighting-related activities are unlawful in Nevada:

  1. Keeping, managing, or having any connection with a house, apartment, pit or place used for dog fighting;
  2. Owning or occupying a house, apartment, pit or place while willfully using or permitting it to be used for dog fighting;
  3. Premeditating to instigate, assist, further, or participate in a dog fight;
  4. Owning, possessing, training, promoting or purchasing a dog with the intent to use it to fight, or else selling a dog knowing that it's intended to be used in a fight; OR
  5. Knowingly witnessing a dog fight in an exhibition or for amusement or gain.

Note that it doesn't matter whether any gambling occurs or even if there're any spectators watching the fight.  Merely the act of contributing to or causing a dog fight is prosecutable under NRS 574.060 and 574.070.

Also note that farmers are permitted to use dogs for the lawful management of livestock.  Likewise hunters may use dogs in the assistance of lawful hunting.

Federal crime of dog fighting

Prosecutors may press federal charges when the alleged dog fighting operation crosses state lines.  The most notorious example from current events is NFL star Michael Vick.  In his case some of the dogs were hanged, drowned, shot, or electrocuted if they didn't die in the ring.

Dog rescues

Law enforcement may legally confiscate dogs upon probable cause that they're used for dog-fighting.  They will remain in the custody of the state pending the outcome of the criminal case.  Any suspected dog fighting activity may be reported to the Humane Society of the United States and the Las Vegas Police.

Defenses

Although dog fighting is a very serious charge, several possible defenses exist that could result in the case getting dropped.  The following are just some strategies a criminal defense attorney may explore using to fight dog fighting allegations.

  • No criminal intent:  Participation in dog fighting activities has to be willful in order to qualify as criminal.  If a defense attorney can show that the defendant had no knowledge of the dog fighting or didn't deliberately take part in them, then criminal charges shouldn't stand.
  • Lack of evidence:  A defendant should not be convicted of dog-fighting unless the court finds that the D.A. proved the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  So if the defense attorney can show that the D.A.'s evidence is too ambiguous, unreliable or insufficient to prove that the defendant participated in a dog fight, the case may be dismissed or end with an acquittal.
  • Police misconduct:  If the police conducted a search without a warrant or probable cause, then the defense attorney may file a Nevada motion to suppress asking the judge to disregard all the evidence the police unearthed from their illegal search.  If the judge agrees and grants the Nevada motion to suppress, the D.A. may throw out the entire dog fighting case for lack of proof.
Penalties

The punishments a Las Vegas Court may impose for committing the Nevada crime of dog fighting depend on the specific actions the defendant is accused of:

Owning or managing a dog fighting venue in Las Vegas, Nevada  (NRS 574.060)

The act of owning or managing a house, pit or other locale used for dogfighting is punished more seriously with each successive conviction.  A first offense is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying:

  • up to 364 days in Clark County Detention Center (or another county jail), and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

A second offense is a category E felony in Nevada.  The judge usually orders probation, but a maximum sentence may include:

A third or subsequent offense is a category D felony in Nevada, carrying

  • one to four years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines

Instigating or participating in a dog fight in
Las Vegas, Nevada  (NRS 574.070)

The penalty for willfully causing or assisting a dog fight increases with each successive conviction.  A first offense is a category D felony in Nevada with a sentence of:

  • one to four years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines

A second offense is a category C felony in Nevada with a sentence of:

  • one to five years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • maybe up to $10,000 in fines

A third of subsequent offense is a category B felony in Nevada with a sentence of one to six years in Nevada State Prison.

Possessing or selling a dog for dog-fighting in Las Vegas, Nevada  (NRS 574.070)

A conviction for training or selling a dog for the purpose of dog fighting carries harsher penalties the more convictions a defendant has.  A first offense is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada carrying:

  • up to 364 days in Nevada State Prison, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

A second conviction is a category E felony in Nevada.  Probation is standard, although the sentence may include:

  • one to four years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines

A third or subsequent offense is prosecuted as a category D felony in Nevada, carrying

  • one to four years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines

Being a spectator at a dog fight in
Las Vegas, Nevada  (NRS 574.070)

Knowingly watching a dog fight for fun or to gamble also carries more severe penalties with each successive conviction.  A first offense is a misdemeanor in Nevada.  The sentence includes:

A second offense is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying:

  • up to 364 days in Nevada State Prison, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

A third or successive conviction is punished as a category E felony in Nevada.  The sentence is usually probation, though the judge may order a maximum sentence of:

    • four years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • maybe $5,000 in fines

Federal penalties

A dog fighting conviction in federal court carries a maximum punishment of five years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines.

Related crimes

Depending on the circumstances, a charge of the Las Vegas offense of dog fighting may be accompanied by related crimes as well.  These often include allegations of:

Arrested?  There's help . . . .

If you've been accused of violating Nevada dog fighting laws under NRS 574.060 or 574.070, contact Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation.  Perhaps they can negotiate with the D.A. to get the charges thrown out or lowered.  And if necessary they can take your case to a jury and fight zealously for a "not guilty" verdict.

To learn about California dog fighting laws, go to our information page on California dog fighting laws

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Las Vegas Dog Fighting Defense Attorney Disclaimer: The dog fighting, animal cruelty, animal abuse, or other legal defense information presented at this site should not be considered formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. This web site is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of Nevada.

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