"Counterfeiting Seals" in Nevada (NRS 205.175)

Counterfeiting official seals -- or using genuine seals without permission -- is a type of forgery in Nevada under NRS 205.175. Most types of seal forgery are prosecuted as a category D felony in Nevada, carrying:

Meanwhile, making or selling a counterfeit police badge is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying:

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

However, it may be possible to get these charges reduced or dismissed through a Nevada plea bargain. Potential defenses to NRS 205.175 allegations include:

  • The seal was not a counterfeit;
  • The defendant had no fraudulent intent; or
  • The defendant had official permission to use the seal

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss the Nevada crime of counterfeiting seals. Click on a topic to jump to that section:

wax stamp
Counterfeiting official seals is a form of forgery in Nevada.

1. Legal definition of "seal forgery" in Nevada

It is against Nevada law to use a fraudulent official seal without authorization. Specifically, NRS 205.175 prohibits the following five actions: 

  1. Forging or counterfeiting the signature of any public officer or the seal of any corporation;
  2. Unlawfully affixing a true seal to any legal document or other writing, and done with evil intent;
  3. Possessing and willfully concealing a counterfeit seal while knowing it to be a counterfeit;
  4. Manufacturing or knowingly selling or possessing a counterfeit badge (or identification) of any law enforcement agency; or
  5. Fraudulently forging or counterfeiting and using either:
    • the Nevada state seal, 
    • the seal of any court or public officer, or
    • the seal of any corporation

In short, it is illegal to make a fake seal, use a fake seal, or to put a real seal on a document without permission. NRS 205.175 also prohibits forging the signature of a "public officer," which comprises any elected or appointed government official.1

2. Penalties for "seal forgery" in Nevada

Nevada state seal
Forging the Nevada state seal is a felony.

An NRS 205.175 violation is typically punished as a class D felony, carrying:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

However, the following three NRS 205.175 violations are instead punished as only a gross misdemeanor:

  1. manufacturing a counterfeit badge or identification of any law enforcement agency,
  2. knowingly selling a counterfeit badge or identification of any law enforcement agency,
  3. knowingly possessing a counterfeit badge or identification of any law enforcement agency

A gross misdemeanor carries up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines.2

However, the defense attorney and prosecutor may agree to a plea deal where the charges get reduced or possibly dismissed.

3. Defenses to "seal forgery" in Nevada

NRS 205.175 is an extremely broad offense, so the best defense strategies hinge on the unique facts of each case. Common arguments to fight forgery charges may include:

  1. The seal or signature was not a counterfeit;
  2. The defendant did not have fraudulent intent; or
  3. The defendant had official permission to use the seal

In every criminal case, prosecutors have the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. So a defense attorney's job is to comb through the evidence and find new evidence to raise that reasonable doubt.

If the defense attorney can convince the prosecutor that the state has insufficient evidence to sustain a guilty verdict, the prosecutor may agree to a favorable plea deal or a full dismissal.

4. Deportation for "seal forgery"

counterfeit stamp
Forgery is potentially a deportable crime.

An immigration judge could consider an NRS 205.175 violation to be a crime involving moral turpitude because it requires fraudulent intent.3 Therefore, non-U.S. citizens who face forgery charges should retain an attorney to try to have the case dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense that is not deportable.

Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

5. Sealing Nevada criminal records for "seal forgery"

People convicted of a category D felony must wait five (5) years after the case ends before asking the court to seal the case. But the waiting period is only two (2) years if the conviction was for a gross misdemeanor.4

Note that there is no waiting period to pursue a record seal if the defendant was acquitted at trial or if the prosecutor dismissed the case.5

6. Related offenses

6.1. Nevada fake ID crimes (NRS 205.460 - 205.465) 

The sentence for Nevada fake ID crimes turns on the circumstances of the case:

Fake ID offense Punishment

Having a fake ID to drink, gamble, or buy cigarettes (NRS 205.460)

Misdemeanor in Nevada:

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

Selling or transferring a fake ID to drink, gamble, or purchase cigarettes (NRS 205.460)

Gross misdemeanor:

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

Having a false ID to pass off a fake identity (NRS 205.465)

Category E felony in Nevada:

A first-time offense is usually probationable. Otherwise, the judge may impose:

  • 1 - 4 years in prison
  • up to $5,000 (at the judge's discretion)

Selling or giving away a fake ID (NRS 205.465)

or

Having a fake ID to execute forgery, debit or credit card fraud, or online fraud (NRS 205.465)

Category C felony in Nevada:

  • 1 - 10 years in prison
  • up to $10,000 (at the judge's discretion)

Selling or giving away the personal ID information of a person 60 or older, a vulnerable person, or of five (5) or more people (NRS 205.465)

or

Causing another person to undergo a financial loss or injury of $3,000 or more as a result of selling or transferring personal ID information (NRS 205.465)

Category B felony in Nevada:

  • 1 - 20 years in prison
  • up to $100,000

6.2. False impersonation (NRS 205.450)

The Nevada crime of false impersonation occurs when a person falsely represents him/herself as someone else when either:

  • getting married,
  • conducting a real estate transaction,
  • confessing to a crime or civil judgment,
  • acting as bail or surety in a legal proceeding, or
  • conducting any other act in the course of a lawsuit or proceeding that jeopardizes another person's financial interests

False impersonation is a category C felony, carrying:

  • 1 - 5 years in prison, and
  • up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

In addition, the defendant must pay the victim restitution in Nevada (if applicable).

6.3. Forgery (NRS 205.090) 

The Nevada crime of forgery occurs when someone intentionally attempts to defraud another via falsified documents. As with counterfeiting seals, the sentence is:

  • 1 - 4 years in prison, and
  • up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

In addition, the defendant must pay the victim restitution (if applicable).

Male receptionist waiting for your call.
Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation today.

Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

If you are facing criminal charges in Nevada, please call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE consultation. Our mission is to do everything possible to fight for a charge reduction or acquittal. And if necessary, our experienced courtroom attorneys will take your case all the way to trial and advocate zealously for a "not guilty" verdict. Meanwhile, we are here to hold your hand through the entire process so you remain informed, empowered, and confident that you are receiving the best representation available.

Arrested in California? See our article on the California crime of forging, counterfeiting, or possessing a fraudulent public seal | California Penal Code 472 PC.

Arrested in Colorado? See our article on Colorado forgery laws.


Legal References

  1. NRS 205.175  Counterfeiting seals; forgery of signatures of public officers; sale or possession of counterfeit badge or identification of law enforcement agency.

          1.  A person who:

          (a) Fraudulently forges or counterfeits the Seal of this State, or the seal of any court or public officer by law entitled to have and use a seal, or the seal of any corporation, and makes use of the seal;

          (b) Forges or counterfeits the signature of any public officer, or seal of any corporation;

          (c) Unlawfully and corruptly, and with evil intent, affixes a true seal to any commission, deed, warrant, pardon, certificate or other writing; or

          (d) Has in his or her possession or custody a counterfeit seal, and willfully conceals it, knowing it to be falsely made and counterfeited,

    --> is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

          2.  A person who manufactures or knowingly sells or possesses a counterfeit badge or identification of any law enforcement agency is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

    NRS 205.4627  “Public officer” defined.  “Public officer” means a person who:

          1.  Is elected or appointed to a position which is established by the Constitution or a statute of this state, or by a charter or ordinance of a political subdivision of this state; or

          2.  Otherwise serves as an officer for a public body.

  2. Id.
  3. See INA 212(a)(2)(a)(i).
  4. NRS 179.245.
  5. NRS 179.255.

Free attorney consultations...

The attorneys at Shouse Law Group bring more than 100 years collective experience fighting for individuals. We're ready to fight for you. Call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 855-LAW-FIRM for a free case evaluation.

Regain peace of mind...

Shouse Law Defense Group has multiple locations throughout California. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

To contact us, please select your state:

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370