Nevada "Robbery" Laws (NRS 200.380)
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

Under Nevada law, a person commits robbery if he unlawfully takes property from another by:

  • force,
  • violence, or
  • threats of injury.1

Classic examples include snatching a woman's purse or holding up a store cashier to get the register money.

Nevada Robbery defenses:

Common defenses to fight Nevada robbery charges include:

  • The defendant did not use force, violence, or threats of violence.
  • The defendant did not intent to take the property.
  • The defendant was falsely accused.
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Robbery is considered a violent crime in Nevada.

Nevada Robbery penalties:

Robbery carries 2 - 15 years in Nevada State Prison.2 But if the defendant used or possessed a deadly weapon during the robbery, the judge may as much as double the sentence.3

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“Robbery with a deadly weapon can carry decades in Nevada State Prison.” - Reno criminal defense attorney Michael Becker

Legal definition of "Robbery" in Nevada

The legal definition of “robbery” in Nevada is the unlawful taking of another's property by use of force, violence, or threats.  The threats can be to hurt either the victim, the victim's family, the victim's property, or other people present at the scene.4 Typical robbery scenarios include the following:

  • Grabbing a purse from a woman on the street (“mugging”)
  • Holding up a cashier at a store and taking money from the register
  • Forcing a man to give over his wallet by threatening to shoot his wife

Note that robbery is a more serious offense than the Nevada crime of larceny from a person ("pick-pocketing").  This is because larceny from a person does not involve the use of force, threats, or violence.5 Robbery victims are aware when they are being mugged.  In contrast, pick-pocket victims may not realize anything bad happened until after the fact when they cannot find their property.

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Larceny from a person carries lesser penalties than robbery in Nevada because larceny from a person involves no fear or threats. - Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Mike Castillo.

Armed Robbery in Nevada:

Like it sounds, the Nevada crime of robbery with a deadly weapon is when someone commits robbery with the use of a deadly weapon such as guns or knives.6 Robbery with a deadly weapon is what O.J. Simpson was convicted of for stealing memorabilia at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room.7

Note that a person may be convicted of armed robbery even if he/she never inflicts harm with the weapon. Merely displaying a deadly weapon during a robbery counts as robbery with a deadly weapon.8

Example: Tony goes into a convenient store in Henderson.  He then flashes the gun to the cashier and demands all the money.  It is irrelevant that Tony never touches the gun.  The simple act of displaying the gun to the cashier is sufficient to instill fear in the cashier.  Therefore Tony could be liable for robbery with a deadly weapon.

Note that Tony in the above example could still be liable even if the gun was in fact broken or unloaded.  The cashier would have no idea whether the gun was unusable.  As long as Tony used the gun to produce fear, charges for robbery with a deadly weapon could stand in Nevada.9

Defenses to “Robbery” charges in Nevada

The Nevada crime of robbery lends itself to several defenses that may be effective in getting a defendant's charges reduced or thrown out completely. Typical strategies to fight Nevada robbery charges include the following:

  • No force or fear - Robbery by definition has to be accomplished by force, violence or causing fear in the victim.10 If the prosecution cannot show that the defendant used force, violence, or threats of violence, then Nevada robbery charges cannot be sustained.
  • Example: April goes into a gas station mart in North Las Vegas.  While the cashier has his back turned, April reaches into the register and steals the cash.  April used no force or fear to get the money because the cashier was turned away and had no idea what April was doing.  Therefore April committed no robbery.  (Although she could be liable for other theft crimes such as the Nevada crime of larceny or the Nevada crime of burglary.)
  • Mistaken identity - Since robbers often conceal their faces such as with ski masks, it may be difficult for witnesses (if any) to determine their identity. If the prosecution lacks evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is the one who committed the robbery in question, then the case should be dismissed.
  • False allegations - Sometimes people falsely accuse others of crimes they did not commit out of revenge, mental illness, or just a misunderstanding. A good criminal defense team will investigate the evidence and strongly cross-examine the accusers to unearth all the holes and inconsistencies in their story.  If the defense can show that the defendant is a victim of wrongful accusations, the Nevada robbery charges should be dropped.

Note that is not necessarily a robbery defense that the defendant legally owned the property that he/she took.  The act of forcefully taking property from someone's person or presence may qualify as robbery irrespective of who had “claim of right” over the property.11

Also note that it is not necessarily a robbery defense if the defendant had no intent to steal from victim while the confrontation was going on.  If the defendant develops an intent to steal only after inflicting force or fear on the victim, the defendant might still be liable for robbery:12

Example: Amy and Ann have a fistfight in a Laughlin bar. In the course of the skirmish Amy accidentally tears Ann's necklace off her.  After the fight, Amy walks always with the necklace.  Even though Amy had no intent to steal Ann's necklace while the fight was going on, Amy might still be liable for robbery for later deciding to keep the necklace.
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“Common defenses to robbery charges in California such as 'claim of right' or 'after acquired intent' do not necessarily work as defenses in Nevada.” - North Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Michael Becker.

Penalties for Nevada “robbery” convictions in Nevada

Robbery is a category B felony in Nevada.  The base sentence for robbery is two to fifteen (2 - 15) years in Nevada State Prison.13 But the judge must add an additional prison sentence of one to twenty (1 - 20) years in cases of robbery with a deadly weapon.  However, this additional sentence may be no longer than the base sentence.14

Example: Joe is convicted of armed robbery in Las Vegas for holding up a tourist with a gun and stealing his luggage.  The judge is obligated to impose a base sentence for robbery as well as a sentence enhancement for using a deadly weapon…
The judge decides to impose a base sentence of 2 years for the robbery.  Because the base sentence is 2 years long, the judge can impose an additional prison sentence of no more than 2 years for using the deadly weapon.
The judge decides to impose an additional sentence of only 1 year.  Therefore Joe will serve a total of 3 years in prison (2 years for the base sentence + 1 year for the additional sentence).

Learn more about sentence enhancements for using a deadly weapon in the commission of a Nevada crime.

Plea bargains

Depending on the circumstances, a D.A. may be willing to lower a Nevada robbery charge to a more minor offense:

  • If the D.A. cannot show that the defendant used force, violence, or threats to steal, the D.A. might lessen the charge to larceny from a person. Larceny from a person is also a felony in Nevada, but the sentence range is just one to ten (1 - 10) years in prison.15
  • If the D.A. can show that the defendant committed unlawful physical contact but not theft, the D. A. might lower the charge to simple battery in Nevada.  Simple battery is just a misdemeanor in Nevada carrying a sentence of up to six (6) months in jail and/or up t o$1,000 in fines.16
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“A Nevada judge may not impose a sentence enhancement for using a deadly weapon that is longer than the base sentence for robbery.” - Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Michael Becker.

Accused of robbery in Nevada? Call a lawyer…

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Call us at 702-DEFENSE.

If you have been charged with the Nevada crime of “robbery,” call our experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation. Being accused does not mean you are guilty, and we may be able to negotiate with prosecutors to reduce or even dismiss your case.

We represent clients throughout Nevada, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Washoe County, Reno, Clark County, Carson City, Laughlin, Mesquite, Bunkerville, Moapa, Elko, Pahrump, Searchlight and Tonopah.

See more in our articles on category B felony in Nevada, felony in Nevada, misdemeanor in Nevada, Nevada crime of larceny from a person, simple battery in Nevada, Reno criminal defense attorney, Clark County Detention Center, Reno criminal defense attorney, Henderson criminal defense attorney, and deadly weapon in the commission of a Nevada crime. For a discussion of the robbery laws in California | Penal Code 211 PC, please visit our page on robbery laws in California | Penal Code 211 PC.

Legal References:

1 NRS 200.380 Definition; penalty.

  1. Robbery is the unlawful taking of personal property from the person of another, or in the person's presence, against his or her will, by means of force or violence or fear of injury, immediate or future, to his or her person or property, or the person or property of a member of his or her family, or of anyone in his or her company at the time of the robbery. A taking is by means of force or fear if force or fear is used to:
  2. (a) Obtain or retain possession of the property;
    (b) Prevent or overcome resistance to the taking; or
    (c) Facilitate escape.

    The degree of force used is immaterial if it is used to compel acquiescence to the taking of or escaping with the property. A taking constitutes robbery whenever it appears that, although the taking was fully completed without the knowledge of the person from whom taken, such knowledge was prevented by the use of force or fear.

  3. A person who commits robbery 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.

2 NRS 200.380(2).

3 NRS 193.165 Additional penalty: Use of deadly weapon or tear gas in commission of crime; restriction on probation.

  1. Except as otherwise provided in NRS 193.169, any person who uses a firearm or other deadly weapon or a weapon containing or capable of emitting tear gas, whether or not its possession is permitted by NRS 202.375, in the commission of a crime shall, in addition to the term of imprisonment prescribed by statute for the crime, 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 20 years. In determining the length of the additional penalty imposed, the court shall consider the following information:
  2. (a) The facts and circumstances of the crime;
    (b) The criminal history of the person;
    (c) The impact of the crime on any victim;
    (d) Any mitigating factors presented by the person; and
    (e) Any other relevant information.

    The court shall state on the record that it has considered the information described in paragraphs (a) to (e), inclusive, in determining the length of the additional penalty imposed.

  3. The sentence prescribed by this section:
  4. (a) Must not exceed the sentence imposed for the crime; and
    (b) Runs consecutively with the sentence prescribed by statute for the crime.
  5. This section does not create any separate offense but provides an additional penalty for the primary offense, whose imposition is contingent upon the finding of the prescribed fact.
  6. The provisions of subsections 1, 2 and 3 do not apply where the use of a firearm, other deadly weapon or tear gas is a necessary element of such crime.
  7. The court shall not grant probation to or suspend the sentence of any person who is convicted of using a firearm, other deadly weapon or tear gas in the commission of any of the following crimes:
  8. (a) Murder;
    (b) Kidnapping in the first degree;
    (c) Sexual assault; or
    (d) Robbery.
  9. As used in this section, “deadly weapon” means:
  10. (a) Any instrument which, if used in the ordinary manner contemplated by its design and construction, will or is likely to cause substantial bodily harm or death;
    (b) Any weapon, device, instrument, material or substance which, under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing substantial bodily harm or death; or
    (c) A dangerous or deadly weapon specifically described in NRS 202.255, 202.265, 202.290, 202.320 or 202.350.

4 NRS 200.380.

5 NRS 205.270 Penalty for taking property from person of another under circumstances not amounting to robbery; limitation on granting of probation or suspension of sentence.

  1. A person who, under circumstances not amounting to robbery, with the intent to steal or appropriate to his or her own use, takes property from the person of another, without the other person's consent, is guilty of:
  2. (a) If the value of the property taken is less than $3,500, a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130; or
    (b) If the value of the property taken is $3,500 or more, 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 10 years, and by a fine of not more than $10,000.
  3. In addition to any other penalty, the court shall order the person to pay restitution.
  4. The court shall not grant probation to or suspend the sentence of any person convicted of violating subsection 1 if the person from whom the property was taken has any infirmity caused by age or other physical condition.

6 NRS 193.165.

7 Francis McCabe & Carri Geer Thevenot, Simpson will wait two to four weeks in effort to gain retrial, Las Vegas Review-Journal (March 17, 2013).

8See Allen v. State, 1980, 609 P.2d 321, 96 Nev. 334.

9See id.

10 NRS 200.380.

11 See Harlan Protass, O.J.'s Vegas Defense: Can You Legally Steal Your Own Property?, Slate.com (September 19, 2007).

12Leonard v. State, 117 Nev. 53, 17 P.3d 397 (2001).

13 NRS 200.380(1).

14 NRS 193.165.

15 NRS 205.270

16 NRS 200.481 Battery: Definitions; penalties.

  1. As used in this section:
  2. (a) “Battery” means any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.
    (b) “Child” means a person less than 18 years of age.
    (c) “Officer” means:
    (1) A person who possesses some or all of the powers of a peace officer;
    (2) A person employed in a full-time salaried occupation of fire fighting for the benefit or safety of the public;
    (3) A member of a volunteer fire department;
    (4) A jailer, guard, matron or other correctional officer of a city or county jail or detention facility;
    (5) A justice of the Supreme Court, district judge, justice of the peace, municipal judge, magistrate, court commissioner, master or referee, including, without limitation, a person acting pro tempore in a capacity listed in this subparagraph; or
    (6) An employee of the State or a political subdivision of the State whose official duties require the employee to make home visits.
    (d) “Provider of health care” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 200.471.
    (e) “School employee” means a licensed or unlicensed person employed by a board of trustees of a school district pursuant to NRS 391.100.
    (f) “Sporting event” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 41.630.
    (g) “Sports official” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 41.630.
    (h) “Strangulation” means intentionally impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person in a manner that creates a risk of death or substantial bodily harm.
    (i) “Taxicab” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 706.8816.
    (j) “Taxicab driver” means a person who operates a taxicab.
    (k) “Transit operator” means a person who operates a bus or other vehicle as part of a public mass transportation system.
  3. Except as otherwise provided in NRS 200.485, a person convicted of a battery, other than a battery committed by an adult upon a child which constitutes child abuse, shall be punished:
  4. (a) If the battery is not committed with a deadly weapon, and no substantial bodily harm to the victim results, except under circumstances where a greater penalty is provided in this section or NRS 197.090, for a misdemeanor.
    (b) If the battery is not committed with a deadly weapon, and either substantial bodily harm to the victim results or the battery is committed by strangulation, for a category C felony as provided in NRS 193.130.
    (c) If:
    (1) The battery is committed upon an officer, provider of health care, school employee, taxicab driver or transit operator who was performing his or her duty or upon a sports official based on the performance of his or her duties at a sporting event;
    (2) The officer, provider of health care, school employee, taxicab driver, transit operator or sports official suffers substantial bodily harm or the battery is committed by strangulation; and
    (3) The person charged knew or should have known that the victim was an officer, provider of health care, school employee, taxicab driver, transit operator or sports official,        for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 10 years, or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.
    (d) If the battery is committed upon an officer, provider of health care, school employee, taxicab driver or transit operator who is performing his or her duty or upon a sports official based on the performance of his or her duties at a sporting event and the person charged knew or should have known that the victim was an officer, provider of health care, school employee, taxicab driver, transit operator or sports official, for a gross misdemeanor, except under circumstances where a greater penalty is provided in this section.
    (e) If the battery is committed with the use of a deadly weapon, and:
    (1) No substantial bodily harm to the victim results, for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 10 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000.        (2) Substantial bodily harm to the victim results or the battery is committed by strangulation, for a category B felony 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, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000.
    (f) If the battery is committed by a probationer, a prisoner who is in lawful custody or confinement or a parolee, without the use of a deadly weapon, whether or not substantial bodily harm results and whether or not the battery is committed by strangulation, for a category B felony 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.
    (g) If the battery is committed by a probationer, a prisoner who is in lawful custody or confinement or a parolee, with the use of a deadly weapon, and:
    (1) No substantial bodily harm to the victim results, for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 10 years.
    (2) Substantial bodily harm to the victim results or the battery is committed by strangulation, for a category B felony 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.

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