Nevada "Obstructing a Public Officer" Laws (NRS 197.190)
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers

The Las Vegas crime of obstructing a public officer may carry serious penalties in Nevada including fines and jail time.  Furthermore, potential employers who see it on your background check may decline to hire you because of it.

Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys have been very successful in negotiating with prosecutors to reduce or dismiss criminal charges so your record remains clean.  Scroll down to learn more about the definition, defenses and penalties of "obstruction of a public officer" in Nevada.

Definition

A "public officer" is any state government or local government employee in Nevada.  This includes everyone from cops and judges to councilmen and senators.  The legal definition of "obstructing a public officer" in Las Vegas, Nevada, outlaws the following three actions:

  1. refusing or neglecting to furnish information to a public officer when you're legally required to and have been given notice to; or
  2. willfully making an untrue, misleading or exaggerated statement to a public officer; or
  3. willfully hindering a public officer from discharging their official duties  (NRS 197.190)

In short, it's illegal to withhold certain information from, lie to, or hamper a public officer from doing their job.  Note that "obstructing a public officer" is a separate offense from the Nevada crime of evading police and the Nevada crime of resisting arrest.

An example of obstructing a public officer from an actual Nevada Supreme Court case concerned a cop who told a trucker that his truck was being impounded.  The trucker was found guilty of obstructing a public officer for then demanding to know where the truck was and threatening the cop when he refused to tell him. (Colle v. State, 85 Nev. 289 (1969)).

Defenses

Which defenses would prove most effective in a Las Vegas "obstruction of public officer" case largely depends on the specific facts of the incident.  Some typical defense strategies are:

  • Insufficient evidence - Remember that the prosecution bears the burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before the defendant may be convicted.  If your attorney can show that the state's evidence against you is too problematic, inconclusive or nonexistent, obstruction of public officer charges shouldn't stand.
  • Your actions were legal - Just because a public officer believes you obstructed them doesn't necessarily mean you did.  Perhaps they misconstrued your actions or falsely accused you out of frustration.  Either way if your attorney can show that your behavior was lawful, you're not criminally liable for obstructing a public officer.
Penalties

Obstruction of a public officer is a misdemeanor in Nevada.  The possible sentence may include:

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

For a first offense, the judge may agree to "dismiss" the charge after you've completed the punishment.  This means that you may apply to seal your Nevada criminal record right away.  If the judge does not dismiss the charge, then you'd need to wait two (2) years after the case is closed to get your record sealed.

Arrested?  Call us now . . . .

If after reading this article you'd like to schedule a free consultation with our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys, call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).  We may be able to get your charges lowered or thrown out completely.  And if necessary, we'll fight for your innocence at trial.

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