All Nevada crimes fall under one of three categories: 1) misdemeanors, 2) gross misdemeanors, or 3) felonies. Of all of them, misdemeanors are the least serious and carry the least severe penalties . . . and if it is only your first offense, you may be able to avoid jail time altogether.
But even though misdemeanors are often very minor, they still look bad on your criminal record and may cause prospective employers to pass you over for a job. Keep reading to learn more about misdemeanors in Nevada.
The maximum punishment a Clark County judge may order for most misdemeanors in Nevada is the following:
- Up to $1,000 in fines, and/or
- Up to six months in jail
If it is your first or second misdemeanor offense however, Nevada prosecutors are usually willing to negotiate a deal and/or agree to probation so you do not have to do jail at all. And if you have been charged with a felony or gross misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances the prosecutor may agree to lower the charge down to only a misdemeanor.
A major disadvantage of being convicted of a felony or gross misdemeanor in Nevada is that it can take several years before you may petition the court to seal your records, and some of those crimes cannot be sealed at all! In contrast, most misdemeanors may be sealed after only two (2) years. Read about sealing records in Nevada.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense in Las Vegas and wish to take the case to trial, you are not afforded the right to a trial by jury. You may have only a "bench trial," which is where the judge (called "the bench") serves as the trier of fact and decides the verdict him/herself.
The reason you cannot have jury trials in misdemeanor cases stems back to the U.S. Constitution . . . the right to a jury trial is extended only to people facing charges that may carry more than six months in jail. So because the maximum jail sentence for misdemeanors is only six months, misdemeanor cases do not qualify for jury trials in Nevada. Read about bench trials in Nevada.
If someone is sentenced to incarceration for a misdemeanor conviction in Las Vegas, he/she will always serve the time in a city or county jail. Note that jails are different from state prisons, which are located in more rural areas than jails and are reserved for people serving out felony sentences in Nevada.
Examples of the most frequently prosecuted misdemeanor offenses in Las Vegas include the following:
- traffic tickets in Nevada
- trespass in Nevada
- solicitation of prostitution in Nevada
- petit larceny in Nevada
- a first or second conviction of possession of one oz. or less or marijuana in Nevada
- jaywalking in Nevada
- a first or second battery domestic violence in Nevada with no injuries, deadly weapon or strangulation (although it does carry extra penalties)
- a first or second DUI in Nevada with no injuries (although it does carry extra penalties, and you have to wait seven years before you can petition the court to seal the criminal record)
Some misdemeanors qualify as "crimes involving moral turpitude" in Nevada, which means that a non-citizen who is convicted of one of them can be deported. So it is crucial for any immigrant or alien who is accused of any crime to retain counsel to attempt to get the charge dismissed or else changed to something that will not threaten their resident status. Learn more about immigration law at our informational page on crimes involving moral turpitude in Nevada.
Call us if you have been arrested . . .
Whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers have decades of experience in negotiating with prosecutors to ensure that your case gets resolved as favorably as possible. Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to discuss for free how we might be able to keep you out of jail and your record clean.
To learn about California misdemeanor law, go to our article on California misdemeanor law.