Nevada's Law on "Interfering With a Public Officer" (NRS 197.090)
(Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers)

young woman yelling at smiling police officer who is writing her a ticket

What is interfering with a public officer?

NRS 197.090 -- interfering with a public officer - is a more serious version of NRS 197.190, Nevada's law on obstructing a public officer. It bears similarities to the Nevada crime of resisting arrest, but applies to elected and appointed government officials.

However, whereas obstructing a public officer involves a passive act of non-cooperation, interfering with a public officer involves an active attempt to keep a public officer from performing a legal duty by the use of force, violence or throat.

Interfering with a public officer is a Nevada gross misdemeanor. A Nevada gross misdemeanor can be punished by:

  • Up to 364 days in county jail, and/or
  • A fine of up to $2,000.

To help you better understand Nevada's law on interfering with a public officer, our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers discuss, below:

close up of gavel being struck by male judge

1. Who is a public officer in Nevada?

Nevada NRS 169.164 defines "public officer." NRS 169.164  provides:

“Public officer” means a person elected or appointed to a position which:

  1. Is established by the constitution or a statute of this State, or by a charter or ordinance of a political subdivision of this State; and
  2. Involves the continuous exercise, as part of the regular and permanent administration of the government, of a public power, trust or duty.

Examples of Nevada public officers include elected officials and sheriffs.

2. What behavior does NRS 197.090 prohibit?

NRS 197.090 provides:

Except under circumstances where a greater penalty is provided in NRS 200.481 [battery], any person who, by means of any threat, force or violence, attempts to deter or prevent any executive or administrative officer from performing any duty imposed upon the officer by law, or who knowingly resists by force or violence any executive or administrative officer in the performance of the officer's duty, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

3. Penalties for interfering with a public officer

Interfering with a public officer is a Nevada gross misdemeanor.

A Nevada gross misdemeanor may normally be punished by:

  • Up to 364 days in county jail, and/or
  • A fine of up to $2,000.

If, however, in the course of interfering, you injure the officer or you use a deadly weapon, you will usually be charged with NRS 200.481, Nevada's battery law.

Battery resulting in injury to a public officer is a category C felony, punishable by 1 to 5 years in Nevada state prison and maybe a fine of up to $10,000.

If the bodily harm is substantial, however, or the battery involves a deadly weapon or strangulation, it is a category B felony that carries potential penalties of 2 to 10 years in Nevada state prison and maybe a fine of up to $10,000.

4. Defenses to interfering with an officer

The best defense to Nevada charges of interfering, obstructing or battering a public officer depends on the facts of your case.

However, to constitute interference with a public officer, you must:

  • Have attempted to interfere with the officer's legal duty; or
  • Knowingly resisted the officer.

Thus common defenses to interfering with a public officer often include:

  • Your behavior was accidental. You cannot be convicted of interfering with a public officer unless you knowingly resisted the officer in carrying out his or her duty. If you unknowingly got in the way, you aren't guilty of a crime.
  • The officer was not performing a legal duty. If the officer was off-duty, engaging in actions outside the scope of his or her official duties, or doing something illegal, you are not guilty of interfering with a public officer.
  • Your speech or actions were misconstrued as a threat. To be a violation of law, a threat must usually be specific and credible. If your so-called “threats” were vague, you should not have been charged with interfering with a public officer.
  • There is insufficient evidence. Sometimes it is your word against the officer's. And since the prosecution must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, we are often able to get charges dismissed or reduced to misdemeanor obstruction where there is no other evidence.
  • Your actions were legally justified. If the officer was using excessive force or your actions consisted solely of speech, resisting may have been legal. Our Reno and Las Vegas defense attorneys can help you determine whether your actions offer a complete defense or justification.
  • There was police misconduct. Police are supposed to uphold the law. But sometimes, when it comes to your word against that of a public officer, the cops take sides. Ways the cops can violate your rights include (without limitation) false testimony, coercing a confession and failing to read your rights. If your rights have been violated, our Nevada defense lawyers will investigate the facts and present the exonerating evidence to the prosecutor.

Charged with interfering with a Nevada public officer? Call us for help…

If you or someone you know has been charged in Washoe or Clark County, Nevada with resisting arrest or interfering or obstructing a public officer, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.

Our caring Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada criminal defense attorneys understand the nuances of Nevada's laws protecting public officials. We know how to find the holes in the prosecution's case and to use them to aggressively fight the charges.

To schedule your free consultation, fill out the form on this page or call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). One of our experienced Nevada criminal lawyers will get back to you promptly to discuss your case and the best defense to your Nevada charges of interfering with a public officer.

Also see our related article about escaping from prison in Nevada.

To learn about obstructing or interfering with an executive officer in California, please see our article on California's Law Against Resisting an Executive Officer.



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