Nevada "Coercion" Law (NRS 207.190)
(Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys)

The Nevada crime of coercion under NRS 207.190 is intentionally using intimidation, deprivation, or violence to make another person do something he/she is not legally obligated to do. An example is a boss threatening to fire his secretary unless she submits to his sexual advances.

Coercion is a misdemeanor in Nevada as long as no physical force was used or threatened, carrying a penalty of:

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

But if the coercer did commit or threaten to use physical force, then it is prosecuted as a category B felony in Nevada. The penalty carries:

It may be possible to plea bargain coercion charges down to a dismissal or lesser charge. Common defenses include:

  1. the defendant had no criminal intent;
  2. the defendant was falsely accused; or
  3. there was no coercion

In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense attorneys discuss the following coercion topics:

sign and gavel
Coercion can be a misdemeanor or a felony in Nevada depending on whether force was used or threatened.

1. Legal Definition of "Coercion" in Nevada

The Nevada crime of coercion under NRS 207.190 occurs when a person intentionally tries to compel another person do something -- or to refrain from doing something -- by either:

  • being violent -- or threatening violence -- towards the person, his/her family, or property;
  • depriving the person of a tool, implement, or clothing; or
  • trying to intimidate the person through threats or force

In short, coercion consists of two elements:

  1. the criminal intent to deprive someone of a right, and
  2. a criminal act depriving someone of that right

Consequently, coercion covers a very broad spectrum of actions where one person bullies another person to make him/her do something -- or not do something -- that he/she does not legally have to do:1

An extreme example of coercion in Nevada is torturing someone until that person reveals information that the torturer is after: The victim has no legal obligation to tell the torturer anything, but the victim is being forced to with physical violence.

Another example is an ex-boyfriend refusing to give his ex-girlfriend her car keys back, preventing her from being able to drive away from him: The ex-girlfriend has every legal right to drive away, but the ex-boyfriend is stopping her by depriving her of the keys. 

An example of "sexually-motivated" coercion is a CEO threatening to demote his administrative assistant unless the assistant sends a naked selfie: The administrative assistant has every legal right to abstain from sending compromising pictures, but the boss is compelling her to by threatening her livelihood.

Note that people accused of coercion may face additional charges as well depending on the facts of the case. For example, if John threatened Joe with a severe beating unless he stole a car for him -- and Joe stole the car -- then John would face charges for both coercion and the Nevada crime of auto-theft.

1.1. Coercion as a defense

Coercion is unique in that it is both a crime as well as a legal defense: If a coercion victim can show the court that he/she was coerced into engaging in criminal activity, he/she should not be convicted of carrying out that criminal activity.

The only exception is if the victim was coerced into committing the Nevada crime of murder: The law dictates that coercion victims should never kill, even under extreme duress by their coercer. However, coercion is a "mitigating circumstances" that could help a convicted murderer get a lesser sentence.2

2. Penalties for "Coercion" in Nevada

The punishment for the Nevada crime of coercion depends upon whether the defendant used force or the threat of immediate physical force. If there was none, then coercion is just a misdemeanor, carrying a sentence of:

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

But if the defendant did use or threaten the Nevada crime of battery, then coercion is a category B felony, carrying:

  • one to six (1 - 6) years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $5,000 in fines3
boss putting hand on woman's shoulder
Sexually-motivated coercion usually carries harsher penalties.

2.1. Sexually-motivated coercion

Courts may hold a separate hearing after a defendant is convicted of coercion to determine whether the coercion was sexually-motivated. During this hearing, the D.A. has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant's motivation was sexual. If the court finds that the coercion was sexually-motivated, the judge will impose a harsher sentence.4

Note that courts may not hold these hearings unless the D.A. gives the defendant notice at least 72 hours before the trial. If the D.A. fails to properly serve the defendant with notice, the final sentence will not reflect whether the coercion was sexually-motivated. Learn more about Nevada sex crimes.

3. Fighting "Coercion" charges in Nevada

There are many possible defense strategies to fight a coercion charge in Nevada. The following are just a few examples that could result in a coercion case getting thrown out or reduced to lesser charges.

  • Lack of intent: Coercion is an intent crime in Nevada because it requires that the defendant act knowingly and deliberately. If the prosecution cannot show that the defendant intended to deprive the alleged victim of the right to act -- or not act -- in a certain way, then the charges cannot be sustained. For example, eyewitnesses or recorded text communications may provide evidence of the defendant's lack of criminal intent.
  • False allegations: It is all too common for people to falsely accuse others of crimes out of jealousy, revenge, or mental illness. If the defense attorney can show that the accuser lied or that insufficient evidence exists to show the defendant committed coercion, then the case should be dismissed.
  • No assault or battery (in felony coercion cases): If the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant resorted to violence or violent threats to carry out the coercion, then the felony charge should be reduced to a misdemeanor. Or if the defendant used physical violence only in lawful self-defense in Nevada, then the felony charge should be reduced to a misdemeanor as well.
dictionary definition
Sometimes innocent and legal acts can be misconstrued as coercion.

Another defense is to argue that what transpired did not rise to the level of coercion. Coercion is such a vague offense, and perhaps law enforcement simply misinterpreted the defendant's legal actions.

4. Sealing a "Coercion" case in Nevada

Misdemeanor coercion convictions can be sealed one (1) year after the case ends. Felony coercion convictions may be sealed five (5) years after the case ends. That is one reason why people charged with felony coercion are encouraged to hire counsel to try to get the charges reduced to a misdemeanor (if not dismissed).5

Note that coercion cases that get dismissed can be sealed right away.6 However, the record seal process itself takes several weeks. Learn more about sealing criminal records in Nevada.

5. Deportation from a "Coercion" case in Nevada

Coercion may be considered an aggravated felony or a crime involving moral turpitude.7 Therefore, non-citizens convicted of it may face deportation from the U.S.

Any immigrant charged with a crime in Nevada should retain experienced legal counsel to attempt to get his/her charges reduced to non-deportable crimes or dismissed. Visit our page on the criminal defense of aliens in Nevada to learn more.

6. Related offenses

6.1. Extortion (NRS 205.320)

Coercion is a separate crime from extortion, which is where the extorter is trying to get something of value.

The Nevada crime of extortion (a.k.a. blackmail) comprises situations where someone threatens someone else in order to procure something of value such as money or property. Extortion is a category B felony, typically carrying restitution payments as well as:

  • one to ten (1 - 10) years in prison, and/or
  • up to $10,000 in fines

6.2. Bribery (NRS 197; NRS 207)

Nevada bribery crimes occur when a person offers another person something of value in order to persuade him/her to do something for the briber in return. The penalties turn on the context, such as as if the bribery involved public officials, trial witnesses, or judicial officers. In many cases, bribery is a category C felony in Nevada, carrying restitution payments as well as:

  • one to five (1 - 5) years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $10,000 in fines

6.3. Harassment (NRS 200.571)

The Nevada crime of harassment is knowingly threatening someone else with harm so that the person reasonably fears that the threat will be carried out. A first offense that involves no cyber-harassment or fear of bodily harm is a misdemeanor, carrying:

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

Otherwise, harassment is a felony.

6.4. Dissuading a witness (NRS 199.230)

The Nevada crime of dissuading a witness occurs when a person tries to intimidate a witness from testifying in a case. If the defendant uses no physical force (or threats of immediate physical force), dissuading is a gross misdemeanor that carries:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

Otherwise, dissuading is a category D felony in Nevada, carrying:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $5,000 in fines
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If you have been arrested or have further questions, call our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to set up a free meeting on how we may be able to get your charges lessened or thrown out. We can usually achieve a favorable resolution through negotiation alone. But if necessary, we are prepared to take your case all the way to trial in pursuit of a not guilty verdict.

Legal References

  1. NRS 207.190Coercion.

    1.  It is unlawful for a person, with the intent to compel another to do or abstain from doing an act which the other person has a right to do or abstain from doing, to:

    (a) Use violence or inflict injury upon the other person or any of the other person's family, or upon the other person's property, or threaten such violence or injury;

    (b) Deprive the person of any tool, implement or clothing, or hinder the person in the use thereof; or

    (c) Attempt to intimidate the person by threats or force.

    2.  A person who violates the provisions of subsection 1 shall be punished:

    (a) Where physical force or the immediate threat of physical force is used, 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.

    (b) Where no physical force or immediate threat of physical force is used, for a misdemeanor.

  2. NRS 200.035.
  3. NRS 207.193 Coercion: Hearing to determine whether sexually motivated.

    1.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection 4, if a person is convicted of coercion or attempted coercion in violation of paragraph (a) of subsection 2 of NRS 207.190, the court shall, at the request of the prosecuting attorney, conduct a separate hearing to determine whether the offense was sexually motivated. A request for such a hearing may not be submitted to the court unless the prosecuting attorney, not less than 72 hours before the commencement of the trial, files and serves upon the defendant a written notice of the intention to request such a hearing.

    2.  A hearing requested pursuant to subsection 1 must be conducted before:

    (a) The court imposes its sentence; or

    (b) A separate penalty hearing is conducted.

    3.  At the hearing, only evidence concerning the question of whether the offense was sexually motivated may be presented. The prosecuting attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offense was sexually motivated.

    4.  A person may stipulate that his or her offense was sexually motivated before a hearing held pursuant to subsection 1 or as part of an agreement to plead nolo contendere, guilty or guilty but mentally ill.

    5.  The court shall enter in the record:

    (a) Its finding from a hearing held pursuant to subsection 1; or

    (b) A stipulation made pursuant to subsection 4.

    6.  For the purposes of this section, an offense is “sexually motivated” if one of the purposes for which the person committed the offense was his or her sexual gratification.

  4. Santana v. State, 122 Nev. 1458, 148 P.3d 741, 1462-1463 (2006)("[I]in determining whether a defendant has made an immediate threat of physical force under NRS 207.190, the inquiry must focus on the viewpoint of a reasonable person. Depending on that viewpoint, an immediate threat of physical force may exist even where the defendant is not presently able to carry out the threat. We add that while the jury can and should consider the testimony of victims, the jury remains responsible for determining whether the threat was immediate, future, or incapable of being performed.").

  5. NRS 179.245.
  6. NRS 179255.
  7. SeeINA 212(a)(2)(a)(i) and 8 U.S. Code § 1101.

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