NRS 200.450 - "Challenges to fight" in Nevada

NRS 200.450 is the Nevada law that prohibits people from challenging each other to a fight, or accepting a challenge to fight. This section makes it illegal if:

"a person, upon previous concert and agreement, fights with any other person or gives, sends or authorizes any other person to give or send a challenge verbally or in writing to fight any other person." (NRS 200.450)

A challenge to fight that involves no deadly weapons is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines. But if a deadly weapon is involved, the defendant faces charges for a category B felony in Nevada, carrying:

But it may be possible to get the charge dismissed or reduced to the lesser Nevada crime of breach of peace under NRS 203.010. Possible defenses to NRS 200.450 allegations include:

  • the defendant was falsely accused;
  • the police misidentified the defendant;
  • there was never an offer or agreement to engage in a fight

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss the Nevada crime of "challenging to fight" under NRS 200.450. Click on a topic to jump to that section.

sign with a fist
A Nevada charge of challenging someone to a fight may be reduced to breach of peace.

1. Legal definition of "challenges to fight" under NRS 200.450 in Nevada

NRS 200.450 makes it a Nevada crime for people to either:

  • challenge another person to a fight;
  • send a message challenging another person to a fight; or
  • accept a challenge to have a fight

Challenging another person to fight is still illegal even if the fight never ends up taking place. And the challenge can take any form, such as through talking aloud or a written message. Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker provides an illustration:

fistfight
Accepting a challenge to have a fight is just as illegal in Nevada as making the challenge.

Example: Gregory is furious at Bill for cheating with Gregory's girlfriend. Gregory records a menacing video challenging Bill to a gunfight at Sunset Park at midnight. Gregory then instructs his brother Jack to go to Bill's house and play the video for Bill on Jack's iPhone. After Jack plays the video, Bill tells Jack that he will be there.

If caught, Gregory, Bill, and Jack could be convicted of violating NRS 200.450: Gregory for giving the challenge, Bill for accepting the challenge, and Jack for delivering ("sending") the challenge.

In the above example, it makes no difference that the challenge was recorded on video: Any verbal or written challenge to fight is illegal. Nor does it matter if the fight never takes place: It is against Nevada law merely to propose a fight, agree to a fight, or send a challenge to have a fight.1

1.1. Duels

Duels are antiquated types of pre-planned fights where the participants use either a:

sign of 'rumble' against a cartoon background
The duels from yesteryear have been replaced by modern-day gang rumbles.
  • rifle,
  • shotgun,
  • pistol,
  • bowie knife,
  • dirk,
  • smallsword,
  • backsword, or
  • other dangerous weapon

Traditionally, duels are attended by the participants' "seconds," a doctor, and spectators.2 

1.2. "Challenges to fight" versus "breaching the peace"

Breaching the peace (a.k.a. disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct) encompasses various unlawful conduct, including "challenging to fight."3 So when police believe a challenge to fight has occurred, police must decide which crime to arrest the suspects for.

In practice, police arrest suspects for the lesser offense of breaching the peace when the "challenge to fight" is spontaneous and in the heat of the moment. If the challenge is premeditated and planned, then police are more likely to make an arrest under NRS 200.450.

2. Nevada penalties for "challenges to fight"

The punishment for violating NRS 200.450 depends on whether the fight involves the use of a deadly weapon.

If no deadly weapon is involved, a challenge to have a fight is a gross misdemeanor. The sentence is:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines
man holding gun
Challenging someone to fight is a Nevada felony if the case involves a deadly weapon.

If a deadly weapon is involved, a challenge to have a fight is a category B felony. The sentence is:

  • one to six (1 - 6) years in prison, and
  • up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

Examples of deadly weapons include guns, knives, or any other object that can be used to cause substantial bodily harm in Nevada. Fistfights are typically not considered deadly unless brass knuckles are used.

If the fight occurs and someone dies from it, the perpetrator would then faces charges for the Nevada crime of murder under NRS 200.030. It makes no difference whether or not the fight was officially a "duel."4

2.1. Gang fight penalties

If a felony violation of NRS 200.450 involved gang activity, then the judge will add an additional penalty of one to twenty (1 - 20) years in prison. However, this sentence enhancement may be no longer than the underlying sentence.

Example: Claude is a member of the Bloods, and he receives a five-year prison sentence for making a knife-fight challenge to the Crips. Since the challenge was made in connection to gang activity, the judge may increase the sentence by up to an additional five years.

Note that a gang-enhancement sentence must run "consecutively" with the underlying sentence; this means that the sentences must run one after the other, not concurrently. Therefore, Claude in the above example would serve ten years total if the judge imposes a five-year enhancement.5

Learn more about gang sentence enhancements in Nevada under NRS 193.168.

2.2. Breach of peace as a plea bargain

cartoon of two men fighting
Breach of peace is only a misdemeanor in Nevada.

Breaching the peace can serve as a favorable Nevada plea bargain for defendants initially charged with "challenges to fight." Disturbing the peace is only a misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying a penalty of:

  • up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines6

A breach of peace conviction can also be sealed from the defendant's criminal record more quickly than a challenge to fight conviction (scroll down to section 4 for more information).

3. Defenses to Nevada charges of "challenges to fight"

There are various possible defense strategies to counter NRS 200.450 allegations depending on the circumstances of the case. Possible defenses include:

  • the defendant was falsely accused;
  • the police misidentified the defendant as the real perpetrator; or
  • the defendant never offered or agreed to fight (or sent a message offering or agreeing to fight)

If the fight ends up taking place, note that it is not a defense to argue that the defendant was acting in self-defense or was standing his/her ground. Learn more about Nevada self-defense laws.7

It is also not a defense to argue that NRS 200.450 is unconstitutional for being vague or overbroad.8

4. Sealing Nevada records for "challenges to fight"

The waiting period for sealing an NRS 200.450 case from a defendant's criminal record depends on what the defendant was ultimately convicted of:

Final result of "challenge to fight" case

Waiting period to pursue a Nevada record seal

Category B felony conviction

10 years after the case ends

Gross misdemeanor conviction

2 years after the case ends

Misdemeanor conviction (if the charge is reduced to breaching the peace)

1 year after the case ends

No conviction (the defendant was acquitted at trial, or the prosecutor dismissed the charge)

No waiting period

Category B felonies typically carry only a five-year record seal waiting period; however, it is extended to 10 years in NRS 200.450 cases because challenging someone to a fight is considered a "crime of violence." 9

Learn more about sealing criminal records in Nevada.

5. NRS 200.450 as a deportable offense

sign that says deportation
Challenging someone to fight could be deportable.

Immigration judges may find that challenging someone to a fight is a deportable offense, especially if firearms were involved.10 Therefore, non-U.S. citizens who are facing charges of violating NRS 200.450 are advised to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.

An experienced immigration and criminal defense attorney may be able to persuade the prosecutor to reduce the charges to a non-deportable offense. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

6. Related offenses

6.1. Battery (NRS 200.481)

The Nevada crime of battery under NRS 200.481 is any intentional and unlawful use of physical force on another person. Common examples include kicking, biting, punching, throwing objects act, or poisoning.

Battery can be a misdemeanor or a Nevada felony depending on the seriousness of the situation.

6.2. Assault (NRS 200.471)

Assault is intentionally placing another person in apprehension of being immediately touched in an unlawful way. In other words, assault is an attempted battery.

Like battery, assault can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case.

6.3. Hazing (NRS 200.605)

The Nevada crime of hazing under NRS 200.605 occurs when someone imposes physical brutality on an initiating or current member of a school club, such as a fraternity. Similar to challenges to fight, hazing is still illegal even if the victim agrees to be hazed.

Hazing is punished as a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor depending on whether the victim sustained substantial bodily harm.

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Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation today.

Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

Accused of violating NRS 200.450 in Nevada? Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys are available for a FREE consultation at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).

We will fight to keep you out of jail and to convince the D.A. to reduce or dismiss your charges. And if the case goes to trial, we will present the best defense available in pursuit of a "not guilty" verdict.

Having a criminal record can cause people to lose out on valuable employment and educational opportunities. Therefore, defendants are always advised to seek advice from an attorney on how to fight their charges to keep their record clean.


Legal References

  1. NRS 200.450  Challenges to fight; penalties.

          1.  If a person, upon previous concert and agreement, fights with any other person or gives, sends or authorizes any other person to give or send a challenge verbally or in writing to fight any other person, the person giving, sending or accepting the challenge to fight any other person shall be punished:

          (a) If the fight does not involve the use of a deadly weapon, for a gross misdemeanor; or

          (b) If the fight involves the use of a deadly weapon, 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, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $5,000.

          2.  A person who acts for another in giving, sending, or accepting, either verbally or in writing, a challenge to fight any other person shall be punished:

          (a) If the fight does not involve the use of a deadly weapon, for a gross misdemeanor; or

          (b) If the fight involves the use of a deadly weapon, 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, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $5,000.

          3.  Should death ensue to a person in such a fight, or should a person die from any injuries received in such a fight, the person causing or having any agency in causing the death, either by fighting or by giving or sending for himself or herself or for any other person, or in receiving for himself or herself or for any other person, the challenge to fight, is guilty of murder in the first degree which is a category A felony and shall be punished as provided in subsection 4 of NRS 200.030.
  2. NRS 200.410  Death resulting from duel; penalty.  If a person fights, by previous appointment or agreement, a duel with a rifle, shotgun, pistol, bowie knife, dirk, smallsword, backsword or other dangerous weapon, and in so doing kills his or her antagonist, or any person, or inflicts such a wound that the party or parties injured die thereof, each such offender is guilty of murder in the first degree, which is a category A felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished as provided in subsection 4 of NRS 200.030; NRS 200.430.
  3. NRS 203.010. Breach of peace. Every person who shall maliciously and willfully disturb the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or person or family by loud or unusual noises, or by tumultuous and offensive conduct, threatening, traducing, quarreling, challenging to fight, or fighting, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
  4. NRS 200.450; NRS 200.410.
  5. NRS 193.138.
  6. NRS 203.010.
  7. Wilmeth v. State, 96 Nev. 403, 610 P.2d 735 (1980)(Self-defense and "stand your ground" are not defenses to charges of NRS 200.450 when the defendant voluntarily entered combat.).
  8. Pimentel v. State, 396 P.3d 759, 133 Nev. Adv. Rep. 31 (2017)(NRS 200.450 gives a person of ordinary intelligence fair notice of prohibited conduct; it is not overbroad.).
  9. NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.
  10. See 8 U.S.C § 1227.

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