Many people already know that felonies are the most serious kind of crime and that misdemeanors are the most minor, but there is also a middle class of crime called gross misdemeanors. As with misdemeanors, jail-time can often be avoided for a first-offense of a gross misdemeanor . . . but it still mars your criminal record and may cause future employers to automatically disqualify you.
Below our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers provide a brief overview of gross misdemeanors in Nevada.
Standard punishment for gross misdemeanors
The maximum sentence a Las Vegas judge may impose for most gross misdemeanors in Nevada includes:
- Up to $2,000 in fines, and/or
- Up to 364 days in jail
But if you have never been convicted of a crime before, Nevada prosecutors may be amenable to negotiate your charge so you go on probation and/or avoid jail. And if your attorney can persuade the prosecutors that their evidence against you is weak, they may agree to lower your charge down to a misdemeanor offense or to dismiss it altogether.
Finally, note that attempting to commit a category C, D, or E felony is prosecuted as a "wobbler" crime that can be treated as either a felony or a gross misdemeanor. Learn more about Nevada wobbler crimes.
If you are convicted of a gross misdemeanor in Las Vegas, you have to wait five (5) years before you are allowed to petition the court to seal your criminal record. That is why it is important to retain counsel as soon as you are arrested to try to get your case dismissed or at least lowered to a simple misdemeanor, which only has a two (2) year waiting time. Read more about sealing records in Nevada.
Everyone is constitutionally guaranteed the right to a trial by jury for charges that may result in more than six months incarceration. So because the maximum possible sentence for a gross misdemeanor conviction in Nevada is one year, anyone who wishes to take their gross misdemeanor case to trial may elect to have either a jury trial or a bench trial (where the judge and not a pool of citizens decides the verdict).
Most people use the terms "jail" and "prison" interchangeably, but they are very different: Anyone sentenced to incarceration for a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor in Nevada will serve the time in a city or county jail, which are usually located in metropolitan areas close to the courthouse. Only people serving out felony sentences go to prison, which are usually in rural areas.
Common gross misdemeanors
A few of the most frequently prosecuted gross misdemeanor crimes in Las Vegas are:
- A first offense of open or gross lewdness in Nevada
- A first offense of indecent exposure in Nevada
- false imprisonment in Nevada (as long as it was not committed by a prisoner, with a deadly weapon, or to avoid arrest)
- a second or subsequent offense of stalking in Nevada
- a third conviction of possession of one oz. or less or marijuana in Nevada
- unlawful use of a hotel key in Nevada
There are some gross misdemeanors that may be considered "crimes involving moral turpitude" in Nevada, which means aliens convicted of them may be deported under certain conditions. That is why any non-citizen charged with a gross misdemeanor should seek counsel immediately to try to get the charge lowered to a non-deportable offense. Learn more at our informational article on crimes involving moral turpitude in Nevada.
Phone us if you have been arrested . . .
No matter what crime you are charged with, our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers are determined to try to resolve your case so you stay out of jail and keep your record clean. Phone us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free meeting about your case and how we can help put it behind you as quickly and painlessly as possible.
In California some crimes may be either a felony or a gross misdemeanor, called a "wobbler". Learn more about California wobbler law.