"Escaping from jail or prison" in Nevada (NRS 212.090)

Penalties for escaping from jail, prison, or police custody in Nevada under NRS 212.090 depend on what crime the prisoner was charged or convicted of:

Underlying charge or conviction

Penalties for escaping from incarceration or custody in Nevada

Misdemeanor in Nevada or gross misdemeanor in Nevada

If a dangerous weapon was used, escaping is a category B felony in Nevada:

If no dangerous weapon was used, escaping is a gross misdemeanor:

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

Felony in Nevada

If the defendant used a dangerous weapon, took a hostage, or caused substantial bodily harm in Nevada, escaping is a category B felony:

  • 2 – 20 years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $20,000 in fines

Otherwise, escaping is a category B felony:

  • 1 – 10 years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $10,000 in fines

It may be possible to persuade prosecutors to lessen or possibly dismiss the charges through a Nevada plea bargain. Potential defenses include:

  • the defendant was framed,
  • the defendant was misidentified as the real escapee, or
  • the defendant escaped out of lawful "necessity"

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

man scaling wall
Convicted felons who escape from prison face an additional category B felony charge in Nevada.

1. Definition of escaping prison, jail, or police custody in Nevada

Criminal suspects or defendants who attempt to escape police custody or incarceration face an additional charge of violating NRS 212.090.1 It makes no difference if the defendant succeeded or failed in breaking out.2

Note that NRS 202.090 applies both to people suspected or charged with a crime as well as people who have been convicted. And a person can be charged with escape by trying to break out of any of the following locations:

  • a prison,
  • a jail,
  • a holding facility,
  • a vehicle belonging to the Department of Corrections, a jail, or law enforcement,
  • a court,
  • in custody for a citizen's arrest,3 and/or
  • any other place where the person is in custody by law enforcement

2. Penalties for escaping prison, jail, or police custody in Nevada

broken jail bars
The penalty for breaking out depends on the crime the person was incarcerated for.

The punishment for attempting to escape from jail, prison, or police custody in Nevada hinges on whether the defendant is in custody for either a:

  • misdemeanor,
  • gross misdemeanor, or
  • felony

2.1. Misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors

People who have been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor in Nevada face the following punishment if they escape police custody or incarceration:

If they use a dangerous weapon to facilitate the escape, attempting to break out of jail or prison is a category B felony. The sentence is:

  • 1 to 6 years in prison, and
  • possibly a fine of up to $5,000

Otherwise, attempting to break out is a gross misdemeanor. The sentence is:

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

2.2. Felonies

It is a category B felony for people who have been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a felony to escape police custody or incarceration.

The specific punishment turns on whether any of the following three "aggravating circumstances" apply:

  1. the defendant used a dangerous weapon,
  2. the defendant took another person hostage, and/or
  3. the (attempted) escape caused someone to sustain substantial bodily harm

If either of the aforementioned aggravating circumstances occurred, the punishment is:

  • 2 to 20 years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $20,000 in fines

Additionally, the sentence must run consecutively with the sentence for the underlying felony. And the court may not grant probation or suspend the sentence in Nevada.

If neither of the aforementioned three aggravating circumstances applies, the punishment is:

  • 1 to 10 years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $10,000 in fines4

3. Fighting charges of escaping, prison, jail, or police custody in Nevada

prisoner running away
Necessity is a possible defense to escape charges.

How best to defend against charges of breaking out of police custody or incarceration turns on the available evidence, such as:

  • surveillance video
  • eyewitnesses
  • forensic evidence (such as fingerprints, hair samples, and blood samples)

Depending on the case, a defense attorney can try to argue that the defendant was misidentified or framed by fellow inmates or angry police. If the defense attorney can raise a reasonable doubt that the defendant tried to escape, then the charge should be dropped.

There is also a possible defense called "necessity," which means that the defendant escaped because it was a reasonable action to take under the circumstances. In order for the “necessity” defense to excuse an escape, all of the following five conditions must be met:

  1. The prisoner faces a specific threat of death, forcible sexual attack, or substantial bodily injury in the immediate future;
  2. There is no time to complain to authorities, or there exists a history of futile complaints which makes complaining pointless;
  3. There is no time or opportunity to resort to the courts;
  4. There is no evidence of force or violence used towards prison personnel or other “innocent” persons in the escape; and
  5. The prisoner immediately reports to the proper authorities when he/she is safe from the immediate threat.5

4. Deportation for escaping prison, jail, or police custody

Immigration judges are likely to consider escaping from prison to be a crime involving moral turpitude, which are deportable. Consequently, any non-U.S. citizen facing criminal charges is urged to retain experienced legal counsel to attempt to get any criminal charges dismissed or reduced to a non-deportable offense. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

5. Sealing criminal records in Nevada for breaking out of prison, jail, or police custody

There is no waiting time to pursue a criminal record seal if the defendant's charges get dismissed.6 But if the defendant gets convicted, then the waiting period to pursue a record seal depends on the specifics of the case:7

Category of crime that defendant was incarcerated for in Nevada

Waiting period to get a record seal in Nevada for escaping from jail/prison

Misdemeanor

If the defendant used a dangerous weapon:

  • 10 years after the case ends if the court considers the escape to be a "crime of violence"; or
  • 5 years after the case ends if the court does not consider the escape to be a "crime of violence"

If the defendant did not use a dangerous weapon:

  • 2 years after the case ends

Gross misdemeanor

If the defendant used a dangerous weapon:

  • 10 years after the case ends if the court considers the escape to be a "crime of violence"; or
  • 5 years after the case ends if the court does not consider the escape to be a "crime of violence"

If the defendant did not use a dangerous weapon:

  • 2 years after the case ends

Felony

If the used a dangerous weapon:

  • 10 years after the case ends if the court considers the escape to be a "crime of violence"; or
  • 5 years after the case ends if the court does not consider the escape to be a "crime of violence"

If the defendant took another person hostage:

  • 10 years after the case ends if the court considers the escape to be a "crime of violence"; or
  • 5 years after the case ends if the court does not consider the escape to be a "crime of violence"

If the escape attempt caused someone to sustain substantial bodily harm in Nevada:

  • 10 years after the case ends if the court considers the escape to be a "crime of violence"; or
  • 5 years after the case ends if the court does not consider the escape to be a "crime of violence"

If the escape involved no dangerous weapon, hostage, or substantial bodily harm:

  • 5 years after the case ends

Note that if a defendant has a prior criminal conviction, then the defendant has to wait to pursue a record seal until all their prior convictions are ripe for sealing. Learn more about Nevada record seals.

6. Related offenses

6.1. Interfering with a public officer (NRS 197.090)

The Nevada crime of interfering with a government officer is keeping a government officer from performing his/her legal duties by the use of force, violence or threats. This is a gross misdemeanor, carrying:

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

6.2. Resisting arrest (NRS 199.280)

The Nevada crime of resisting arrest happens when a person hinders law enforcement from carrying out legal duties, such as making an arrest. Resisting with no weapons is a misdemeanor, carrying:

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

But resisting becomes a felony if the defendant had guns or other weapons.

6.3. Evading police (NRS 484B.550)

The Nevada crime of evading police under NRS 484B.550 happens when someone deliberately continues to drive after police have signaled for the driver to stop by flashing the red light and sounding the siren. It is usually prosecuted as a misdemeanor, carrying:

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

Note that evading is a felony if the driver was driving dangerously, was DUI, or caused injury or death. Learn more in our article on the Nevada crime of evading police and causing injury.

6.4. Obstructing a public officer (NRS 197.190)

The Nevada crime of obstruction of a public officer happens when someone lies to, hinders, or withholds information from a public officer. This is charged as a misdemeanor, carrying up to:

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

6.5. Furnishing phones to prisoners (NRS 212.165)

hole in jail cell
Inmates face charges of escaping from prison whether or not they succeed.

Furnishing a state prison inmate with a telecommunications device is a category E felony in Nevada. The judge usually grants probation for a first offense, but the maximum penalties include:

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

Learn more about the Nevada crime of giving phones to prisoners.

6.6. Furnishing weapons, intoxicants or drugs to state prisoners (NRS 212.160)

Giving a state prison inmate alcohol is a gross misdemeanor. The sentence carries:

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

Meanwhile, giving a state prison inmate controlled substances or deadly weapons is a category B felony. The sentence carries:

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

Learn more about the Nevada crime of giving alcohol, drugs, or weapons to prisoners.

6.7. Prohibited items for prisoners (NRS 212.160; NRS 212.165; NRS 212.180)

Prisoners found in possession of drugs or a phone face prosecution for a category D felony in Nevada. The sentence includes:

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

Prisoners found in possession of a weapon face prosecution for a category B felony, carrying one to six (1 - 6) years in prison.

Note that inmates usually serve sentences for having a prohibited item "consecutively" with the sentences they are currently serving. Also note that courts are usually not allowed to grant probation or suspended sentences in these cases.

Learn more about the Nevada crime of prisoners possessing prohibited items.

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Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

If you are facing criminal charges in Nevada, call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE consultation. Our goal is to try to get your charges reduced or dismissed. But if necessary, we will take your matter all the way to trial in zealous pursuit of a "not guilty" verdict.

In California? See our article on the California crime of rescuing a prisoner.

In Colorado? See our articles on the Colorado crime of escaping police custody and the Colorado crime of attempting to escape from jail or prison.


Legal References

  1. NRS 212.090  Penalties for prisoner who escapes.  A prisoner confined in a prison, or being in the lawful custody of an officer or other person, who escapes or attempts to escape from prison or custody, if the prisoner is held on a charge, conviction or sentence of:

          1.  A felony, shall be punished:

          (a) Where a dangerous weapon is used or one or more hostages are taken to facilitate the escape or attempted escape, or substantial bodily harm results to anyone as a direct result of the escape or attempted escape, for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 20 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $20,000. The sentence imposed pursuant to this paragraph must run consecutively after any sentence imposed for the original felony, and is not subject to suspension or the granting of probation.

          (b) Where none of the aggravating factors specified in paragraph (a) are present, 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 10 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000.

          2.  A gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor, shall be punished:

          (a) Where a dangerous weapon is used to facilitate the escape or attempted escape, 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 dangerous weapon is used, for a gross misdemeanor.

  2. Browning v. State, 120 Nev. 347, 91 P.3d 39 (2004)(NRS 212.090 encompasses both escapes and attempted escapes.).

  3. Johnson v. Sheriff, Clark County, 90 Nev. 19, 518 P.2d 161 (1974)(NRS 212.090 includes citizen arrests as well.)
  4. NRS 212.090.
  5. Jorgensen v. State, 100 Nev. 541, 688 P.2d 308 (1984).
  6. NRS 179.255.
  7. NRS 179.245.

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