"Sending Threatening or Obscene Letters or Writings" in Nevada
(NRS 207.180)
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

It's a form of harassment in Las Vegas to send threatening or obscene letters. This includes not just letters on paper but also electronic media such as text messaging and email.

Upon conviction, a judge may impose fines and even jail.  But an experienced Nevada criminal defense lawyer might be able to persuade the prosecutor to reduce or even dismiss the charge completely.

This article explains the Nevada offense of sending threatening or obscene writings.  Scroll down to read about the law, possible punishments and potential defenses.

Definition

Many people assume that the First Amendment allows you to say anything to anyone without punishment.  That's not necessarily true when the content is harassing or vulgar.  Consequently it's unlawful in Nevada to send someone a letter-or other writing-that's threatening and/or obscene:

Threatening letters

Stated in NRS 207.180, the legal definition of a threatening letter in Las Vegas Nevada makes it a crime for anyone to knowingly send any writing that:

  • threatens to accuse another person of a crime,
  • threatens to expose that person's infirmities or failings,
  • threatens to kill or wound another, or
  • threatens to destroy a person's house or other property

It's also considered "threatening" to write and send an anonymous letter (or a letter with a fictitious name) that has bullying language, charges someone with a crime, or contains reflections of the recipient's standing in society or in the community.

The major difference between the crime of sending threatening letters and the Las Vegas crime of blackmail is that blackmail requires that the sender intend to extort money from the recipient in exchange for not carrying out the threats.  Predictably, the Las Vegas crime of blackmail carries stiffer penalties than simply sending threatening letters.

Obscene letters

The legal definition of an obscene letter in Las Vegas, Nevada, makes it a crime for anyone to write and send any anonymous letter (or a letter with a fictitious name) that contains extremely vulgar language or pictures.

Note that it's irrelevant whether this material is sent through the mail, email, text message, social media such as Facebook, or hand-delivery.  Any transmission of the letter subjects the writer, sender and/or deliverer to penalties for sending threatening or obscene letters.

Defenses

Much of the statutory language in NRS 207.180 is very vague and can be construed in different ways.  This actually may work in a defendant's favor by making it harder for the prosecution to prove their case.  Common defenses to this crime include the following.

  • Lack of threats or obscenities:  What qualifies as threatening or obscene is extremely subjective.  If a defense attorney can show that the writings were merely angry, negative or in poor taste without rising to the level of harassment or obscenity, then the charge may not stand.
  • False allegations:  Sometimes people wrongly accuse others out of anger, envy, or a misunderstanding.  As long as a defense attorney can raise a reasonable doubt that the accused wrote or sent the letters in question, then the case should be dismissed.
  • Police misconduct:  Police may conduct arrests and searches only if there's probable cause to believe criminal activity has occurred.  If a defense attorney believes that the cops lacked probable cause, then he may file a Nevada motion to suppress asking the judge to ignore the evidence the police found from their illegal activity.  If the judge grants the Nevada motion to suppress, the case may be thrown out for lack of proof.
Penalties

The Las Vegas crime of writing or sending threatening or obscene letters is punished as a misdemeanor in Nevada.  The maximum sentence for a misdemeanor in Nevada includes:

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

But a skilled Las Vegas defense lawyer would try to get the charge either dropped or reduced to a less serious offense such as breach of peace in Nevada.  Courts typically impose only a fine for a first offense of breach of peace in Nevada.

Arrested?  There's help . . . .

If you've been accused of sending threatening or obscene writings under NRS 207.180, contact Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free meeting.  Their goal is to safeguard your criminal record by getting your case reduced to a lesser charge or dropped completely.  And if necessary they'll fight for a "not guilty" verdict at trial.

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