Nevada Laws for "Firing guns into structures or vehicles"
(NRS 202.285)
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

It is a crime under Nevada firearm laws to willfully and maliciously fire a gun at or into a vehicle, structure, aircraft, or watercraft. This is illegal even if the building or vessel is unoccupied. Note that this is a separate offense from the Nevada crime of shooting a gun from a car or building.

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Shooting a gun into a building or car is a crime in Nevada.

Defenses:

Common defense strategies to NRS 202.285 charges include:

  • The defendant did not shoot at a vehicle, structure, aircraft or watercraft.
  • The defendant was not acting willfully and maliciously when firing the gun.
  • The defendant's actions were legal under Nevada self-defense laws.

Penalties:

Firing a gun at or into an abandoned vehicle or structure is a misdemeanor in Nevada carrying:

  • up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines...

unless the person is also firing from a car or structure in a populated area. Then it becomes a category B felony in Nevada carrying:

Meanwhile, firing a gun at or into an occupied vehicle or structure is a category B felony in Nevada carrying:

  • 1 to 6 years in Nevada State Prison, and/or
  • up to $5,000 in fines

Note that any felony conviction in Nevada deprives the defendant of the right to own or possess firearms. Only a Nevada pardon can restore a person's gun laws.

On this page our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss the Nevada crime of discharging a gun at or into a structure, vehicle, watercraft, or aircraft. Keep scrolling to learn more.

Legal Definition of "Discharging a firearm into a building or vehicle" in Nevada

Nevada law makes it a crime to willfully and maliciously discharge a firearm at or into either of the following:

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Willfully and maliciously discharging a firearm into a structure or vehicle is illegal whether or not the structure or vehicle is occupied.
  • house, room, apartment, tent, or tenement,
  • shop, warehouse, or store,
  • mill, barn, or stable,
  • outhouse or other building,
  • vessel or aircraft,
  • vehicle, vehicle trailer, semitrailer, or house trailer,
  • railroad, locomotive, car or tender

In short, it is illegal in Nevada to fire a gun at or into a structure, vehicle, aircraft or watercraft.1 It is irrelevant whether anyone is inside the structure or vehicle. It also makes no difference if the bullet never reaches the stucture or vehicle. North Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Michael Becker provides an example:

Example: John is enraged over his wife having an affair with another man. One night he takes his gun and walks by the other man's Las Vegas address and shoots at his house even though he knows the man and his wife are out to dinner. The bullet instead hits a lampost and ricochets onto the street. If the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police catch John, he could be booked at the Clark County Detention Center for willfully and maliciously discharging a weapon at a house.

In the above example, John is criminally liable even though the bullet did not enter the other man's property and even though the house was empty. Just the fact he willfully and maliciously fired the gun in the direction of the house falls under the definition of NRS 202.285.

Note that defendants face a separate charge for "discharging a firearm" for each bullet fired, even if they were fired in quick succession. So firing ten bullets can invite ten charges for discharging a firearm in Nevada. (Washington v. State, 132 Nev. Adv. Op. 65, 2016).

Defenses to "Discharging a firearm into a building or vehicle" in Nevada

The three most common ways to fight Nevada charges of firing a gun into a house or structure are the following:

  1. Gun was not fired at a structure, vehicle, aircraft or watercraft: Firing a gun at a open field or another space that is not a structure, vehicle, aircraft or watercraft should not be prosecuted as a NRS 202.285 violation. If the defense attorney can show that the police were mistaken about where the defendant fired the gun, then the charges should be dropped.
    Gun_20car-optimized
    Firing a gun into a building or car is not a NRS 202.285 violation if the person was not acting willfully and maliciously.
  2. No willful or malicious behavior: Accidentally or negligently firing a gun at a structure or vehicle does not qualify as a NRS 202.285 violation. Unless the D.A. can show that the defendant discharged the firearm in a willful and malicious manner, the charges should be dropped.
  3. Self-defense: Nevada law permits people to take reasonable measures to defend themselves if they are facing an immediate threat of death or physical injury. If circumstances show that the defendant was under assault and that his firing the gun was done in lawful self-defense, criminal charges should not stand. North Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse gives an illustration:

Example: Alan is walking down the street in Henderson when a man suddenly jumps him and tries to strangle him. Alan pulls out his gun and shoots the man, though some of the bullets miss and go into one of the parked cars on the street. Even though Alan purposely shot his attacker with the knowledge that the gun would be pointed in the general direction of the street, chances are good he will not be prosecuted. Under the circumstances, the state would probably agree that he acted in lawful self-defense because his actions were reasonable under the circumstances.

Penalties for "Discharging a firearm into a building or vehicle" in Nevada

The punishment for violating NRS 202.285 depends on whether the structure, vehicle, aircraft or watercraft being fired at has been abandoned or not.2 If it is occupied, firing a gun is a category B felony carrying:  

  • 1 to 6 years in Nevada State Prison, and/or
  • up to $5,000 in fines

If it is abandoned, firing a gun is a misdemeanor carrying:

  • up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines
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Firing a gun into a structure or vehicle can be a misdemeanor or felony in Nevada depending on whether it is occupied or abandoned.

However, note that firing a gun into an abandoned structure or vehicle can become a category B felony if the person is him/herself firing from a structure or vehicle in a populated area.3 The penalty would then be:

  • 2 to 15 years in Nevada State Prison, and/or
  • up to $5,000 in fines

Also note that people convicted of felonies in Nevada lose the right to possess firearms. They may not regain gun rights unless they receive a Nevada pardon.

Arrested? Call a lawyer for help...

Help-support-call-us
Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).

If you have been charged with "discharging a firearm at or into a structure or vehicle," call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys for a FREE consultation at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). We may be able to negotiate or litigate a favorable resolution so your charges get reduced or dismissed and you retain your gun rights.

For information on Shooting at an Inhabited Dwelling or Occupied Car | California Penal Code 246 PC, see our page on Inhabited Dwelling or Occupied Car | California Penal Code 246 PC.

Legal References:

1NRS 202.285  Discharging firearm at or into structure, vehicle, aircraft or watercraft; penalties.

      1.  A person who willfully and maliciously discharges a firearm at or into any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, aircraft, vehicle, vehicle trailer, semitrailer or house trailer, railroad locomotive, car or tender:

      (a) If it has been abandoned, is guilty of a misdemeanor unless a greater penalty is provided in NRS 202.287.

      (b) If it is occupied, 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 6 years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.

      2.  Whenever a firearm is so discharged at or into any vessel, aircraft, vehicle, vehicle trailer, semitrailer or house trailer, railroad locomotive, car or tender, in motion or at rest, 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, aircraft, vehicle, vehicle trailer, semitrailer or house trailer, locomotive or railroad car may have run on the trip during which the firearm was discharged at or into it.

2 Id.

3NRS 202.287  Discharging firearm within or from structure or vehicle; penalties.

      1.  A person who is in, on or under a structure or vehicle and who maliciously or wantonly discharges or maliciously or wantonly causes to be discharged a firearm within or from the structure or vehicle:

      (a) If the structure or vehicle is not within an area designated by city or county ordinance as a populated area for the purpose of prohibiting the discharge of weapons, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

      (b) If the structure or vehicle is within an area designated by city or county ordinance as a populated area for the purpose of prohibiting the discharge of weapons, 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, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.

      2.  If a firearm is discharged within or out of any vehicle that is in motion or at rest 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 vehicle may have run on the trip during which the firearm was discharged.

      3.  The provisions of this section do not apply to:

      (a) A person who lawfully shoots at a game mammal or game bird pursuant to subsection 2 of NRS 503.010.

      (b) A peace officer while engaged in the performance of his or her official duties.

      (c) A person who discharges a firearm in a lawful manner and in the course of a lawful business, event or activity.

      4.  As used in this section:

      (a) “Structure” means any temporary or permanent structure, including, but not limited to, any tent, house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building.

      (b) “Vehicle” means any motor vehicle or trailer designed for use with a motor vehicle, whether or not it is self-propelled, operated on rails or propelled by electric power obtained from overhead wires.

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