Disturbing any kind of lawful assembly is a crime in Nevada. Penalties include high fines and even jail, and employers may disqualify job applicants with a conviction on their record. But a seasoned Las Vegas defense attorney may be able to get the case dismissed entirely.
This article describes the Nevada offense of disturbing a meeting. Keep reading to learn more about the definition, potential defense strategies, and possible penalties.
The legal definition of "disturbing a meeting" in Las Vegas, Nevada, prohibits a person from "willfully disturbing any assembly or meeting not unlawful in its character." This law is extremely broad and can potentially apply to any type of gathering of two or more persons including:
- Board meetings
- Town Hall meetings
- Public Protests
Furthermore, NRS 203.090 potentially forbids many different "disturbing" behaviors such as:
- Talking or yelling out of turn during a meeting
- Preventing people from attending the meeting by impeding their travel on a highway
- Sabotaging sound or lighting equipment meant for a meeting
Note that it's a separate crime to disturb a meeting that's religious in nature. Learn more about the Nevada crime of disturbing a religious meeting.
Because the Las Vegas crime of disturbing a meeting is such a vague crime, defense lawyers have a lot of leeway to concoct creative defense strategies to fight the charges. Below are some of the more common defenses:
- First Amendment: The first amendment affords every citizen freedom of speech. If a defense attorney can show that the defendant was merely exercising his/her freedom to be heard in a lawful manner, then he/she committed no crime.
- Unlawful meeting: NRS 203.090 applies only to disturbances of lawful meetings. If a defense attorney can demonstrate that the meeting was illegal to begin with, then the case should be dismissed.
- Lack of willfulness: A person is not liable for disturbing a public meeting if he/she did not mean to cause a disruption. If a defense attorney can convincingly argue that the disturbance was an accident or otherwise unintentional, charges should not stand.
- Lack of evidence: In every criminal case the prosecution bears the burden to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which is an extremely high standard. As long as the defense attorney can raise this reasonable doubt by showing that the state's evidence is inaccurate or insufficient, then the prosecution may drop the case for lack of proof. Typical evidence used to fight charges of disturbing a meeting in Nevada include surveillance video and eyewitness accounts.
The Las Vegas offense of disturbing a meeting is a misdemeanor in Nevada. The punishment for a misdemeanor in Nevada includes a sentence of:
- up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- up to $1,000 in fines
For a first offense the D.A. may be amenable to dismissing the case completely if the defendant pays a fine, performs community service and attends an Impulse Control Counseling class.
Arrested? Call . . . .
If you've been accused of disturbing a meeting under NRS 203.090, call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys can meet with you free of charge to go over the possibility of getting the case dismissed through negotiations. And if the circumstances demand it, they're prepared to fight for a "not guilty" verdict at trial.
If you're facing charges in California, please visit our page on "Disturbing a Public Meeting in California" (Penal Code 403 PC).