NRS 179D.550 is the Nevada law that penalizes convicted sex offenders for not registering with the Nevada Sex Offender Registry when they are supposed to. It makes no difference if the defendant simply forgot to register, or intentionally decided not to do so. The statute states:
[A]n offender or sex offender who:
(a) Fails to register with a local law enforcement agency;
(b) Fails to notify the local law enforcement agency of a change of name, residence, employment or student status...;
(c) Provides false or misleading information to the Central Repository or a local law enforcement agency...
--> is guilty of a category D felony [in Nevada]...
For a first-time offense of failing to register as a sex offender, the judge may grant probation. Otherwise, possible penalties include:
- 1 - 4 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)
Defendants who neglect to register more than once in seven (7) years face mandatory prison time.
Common defenses to charges of NRS 179D.550 violations include:
- There was no registration requirement,
- The government made a clerical error,
- The defendant was the victim of false allegations, and/or
- The defendant was too incapacitated to comply
As long as the prosecution has insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the charges should not be sustained.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. Who has to register
- 2. How to register
- 3. Penalties
- 4. Driver's license consequences
- 5. Defenses
- 6. Record seals
- 7. Immigration consequences
- 8. Length of time offenders have to register
People are required to register as sex offenders in Nevada if they have been convicted of any of the following crimes:
- Nevada crime of indecent exposure (NRS 201.220)
- Nevada crime of open or gross lewdness (NRS 201.210)
- Nevada crime of first-degree murder (NRS 200.030), committed in the perpetration of sexual abuse of a child under 14
- Nevada crime of sexual assault / rape (NRS 200.366)
- Nevada crime of statutory sexual seduction / statutory rape (NRS 200.368)
- Nevada crime of battery with intent to commit rape (NRS 200.400)
- Administering a drug with intent to commit a sex felony in Nevada (NRS 200.405)
- Child sex abuse in Nevada
- Using a minor to produce pornography in Nevada (NRS 200.710)
- Promotion of sexual performance of a minor in Nevada (NRS 200.720)
- Advertising or distributing child pornography in Nevada (NRS 200.725)
- Using the internet to control a visual depiction of child pornography in Nevada (NRS 200.727)
- Nevada offense of possessing child pornography (NRS 200.730)
- Nevada crime of incest (NRS 201.180)
- Lewdness with a child in Nevada (NRS 201.230)
- Sexual penetration of a corpse (NRS 201.450)
- Sexual conduct between secondary school teachers and students in Nevada (NRS 201.540)
- Sexual conduct between college teachers and students in Nevada (NRS 201.550)
- Luring a child or a person with mental illness in Nevada (as a felony) (NRS 201.560)
- Sex trafficking in Nevada (NRS 201.300)
Any other sex act or sexually-motivated crime1
Being a registered sex offender carries a social stigma and can diminish the person's employment and housing prospects. Therefore, it is very important for defendants facing sex offense charges to hire experienced counsel to try to get their charges dismissed or reduced to a non-sex offense.
1.1. Duties to register as a sex offender in Nevada
Convicted sex offenders in Nevada have the duty to register and keep the state informed about their whereabouts. Specifically, they are required to do the following six things:
- Register with a local law enforcement agency within 48 hours of getting convicted (or getting released from custody following conviction);
- Notify local law enforcement within 48 hours of any change of name, residence, address, employment, or student status;
- Notify local law enforcement if they are remaining in a jurisdiction for longer than 30 days after initially reporting a stay of fewer than 30 days;
- Complete an annual verification form;
- Not provide false or misleading information to the Nevada Central Repository or a local law enforcement agency; and
- Appear in person at a local law enforcement agency on a regular basis:
Convicted sex offenders who do not do follow any of these conditions face a felony charge in Nevada.
Note that Nevada law draws no distinction between willfully defying a court order to register as a sex offender and innocently forgetting to register. Both are equally illegal. However, judges may impose lesser penalties when the defendant had no intention to violate the law.3
The court should provide the defendant with detailed instructions on how to fulfill their registration requirements. Below is general information on:
- Initial registration,
- Change of address, and
- Annual verification
Note that Tier 1 offenders (which is the least serious class of sex offenders) are not searchable in the online Sex Offender Registry unless the victim -- if any -- was a child. But Tier 2 and 3 offenders are publicly searchable.
2.1. Initial Registration
A person who gets convicted of a sex offense in Nevada has 48 hours to register with the local police department. For instance, people convicted in Las Vegas would register with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
If the defendant intends to visit another Nevada city or county for more than 48 hours, he/she will need to register there as well before the 48-hour mark. To find the local police or sheriff's office, go to the State of Nevada Department of Safety website.4
2.2. Change of Address
Whenever defendants change addresses, they need to inform the local law enforcement agency within 48 hours of the move. If the move is to another city, county, or state, defendants need to inform both their former and new local law enforcement agencies.
Depending on the circumstances, defendants may need to update the following information:
- place of employment,
- driver's license number,
- address, and/or
- motor vehicle(s) registered to or frequently driven by the defendant
Las Vegas residents may be able to update their address online.5
2.3. Annual Verification
Defendants are required to verify their registration once a year. The Central Repository will mail the defendant a form, which the defendant should complete and return along with
- current fingerprints,
- a photograph, and
- any other relevant information.
Las Vegas residents may be able to complete part of their annual verification online.6
For more information, contact the Sex Offender Registration Unit at (775) 687-1600 on Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm PST or visit the Nevada Attorney General website.
|Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in Nevada||Punishment|
Category D felony
The judge may grant probation in lieu of incarceration.
Subsequent offense within 7 years of the first
The judge may not grant probation in lieu of incarceration.
Note that the judge will consider the defendant's motivation when determining a sentence. The judge might order a less serious punishment if the defendant accidentally forgot to comply with his/her registration requirements than if he/she deliberately chose not to do so.7
Also note that failure to register is a separate crime from the underlying sex offense. Therefore a conviction for violating NRS 179D.550 counts as a "strike" under Nevada's habitual felon law (NRS 207.010), which punishes people with three or more felonies on their record.8
Finally, note that the Nevada DMV and Gaming Control Board deny license renewals to people convicted of violating registration requirements. Scroll down to the next question to learn more about how being a sex offender affects Nevada driver's licenses.9
Nevadans who have neglected to register as a sex offender will be denied a driver's license renewal when their current license expires.
Note that people convicted of sex offenses are required to renew their driver's license annually once their current license expires. (Non-sex offenders renew their licenses only once every eight years.)
Every year, the DMV mails convicted sex offenders a driver's license renewal notice about 45 days before their license is set to expire. Then they must renew the license in person at a DMV office. They may not renew by mail or online.10
There are various defenses an attorney may try to use to fight charges of violating NRS 179D.550. The following are three of the more common strategies:
- No registration requirement
- Human error
- False allegations
5.1. No registration requirement
Sometimes there is a miscommunication or lack of communication between government agencies about which defendants are required to register and where. These information gaps can lead to false arrests:
Example: Kathy is a Tier I sex offender in Nevada. She successfully petitioned the court to get off the sex offender registry after only ten years instead of the usual fifteen. On the eleventh year, Kathy gets arrested for violating NRS 179D.550. But once Kathy's attorney produces the court documents showing that she is no longer required to register as a sex offender, the charge should be dismissed.
In the above example, Kathy did not fail to register because she was not required to. Courts should not penalize defendants for government mistakes.
5.2. Human error
When defendants initially register as sex offenders at their local law enforcement station, human beings are inputting the information into the databases. And sometimes these people enter the wrong information, which may lead to false arrests:
Example: Nathan is convicted of indecent exposure in Reno, so he goes to the Reno Police Department to fulfill his registration requirements. The temp worker filling in that day fails to do an accurate job. After 48 hours, the police department gets notified that Nathan has violated NRS 179D.550 and arrests him. But if Nathan's attorney can show that he did everything that was required, the charge should be dropped.
In the above example, Nathan did not fail to abide by NRS 179D.550. Instead, the police station failed to correctly process his registration. Courts should not penalize defendants when the police were in the wrong.
5.3. False allegations
Sometimes disgruntled police permit their individual prejudices to overpower their duty to follow the law. One way they may take out their aggression is to punish convicted sex offenders more by conveniently "losing" their paperwork and falsely claiming that they failed to register.
Example: Brian is convicted of a sex offense in Nevada after agreeing to a plea deal where he avoids prison. Henry is a police officer who helped investigate his case, and he is disgusted that Brian gets to avoid further incarceration. After Brian registers as a sex offender, Henry deletes all his information from the database. Then when 48 hours pass, Henry arrests Brian for violating NRS 179D.550 in the hopes that he will finally serve prison time. But if Brian's attorney can show that he abided by all his requirements and that the fault lay with the police station, then criminal charges should not stand.
Therefore, it is very important for defendants to keep detailed records of all their paperwork and postmark dates. They should photograph and keep screengrabs of any relevant documents that show they are compliant with Nevada registration laws. So if a bad police officer ever tries to sabotage them, they will have physical proof that they were compliant.
A possible defense to NRS 179D.550 charges is that the defendant was too incapacitated to comply with his/her registration requirements.
Example: Daniel is a sex offender who has been compliant for eight years. Then Daniel gets injured in a car crash and is put in a coma for several weeks. During this time, the deadline for him to submit his annual verification passes. If a warrant is issued for Daniel's arrest, Daniel's attorney can ask for a court hearing to explain the situation. Then the judge may agree to recall the warrant and dismiss the case, especially since Daniel has been in compliant for so many years.
Courts are more likely to dismiss charges if the defendant is a victim of emergency circumstances beyond his/her control, such as a car accident or illness. If a defendant's flight into Nevada gets canceled, the judge may be unsympathetic and argue that the defendant should not have waited until the last minute to comply with registration requirements.
An NRS 179D.550 conviction should be sealable five (5) years after the case ends. But if the case gets dismissed, then there is no waiting period.
Note that the underlying sex offense conviction that led to the defendant's requirement to register can never be sealed. Learn more about sealing Nevada criminal records.11
|Failure to Register as a Sex Offender||Record Seal waiting period|
First conviction (category D felony)
5 years after the case ends
Subsequent conviction (category C felony)
5 years after the case ends
Dismissed charge (no conviction)
No waiting period
Underlying sex offense
May never be sealed
Probably not. Violating NRS 179D.550 is not considered an aggravated felony in Nevada or a crime involving moral turpitude in Nevada. However, the underlying sex offense that the defendant was convicted of almost certainly is a deportable offense in Nevada.12
Therefore, any aliens facing criminal charges should hire a lawyer as soon as possible to try to get their charges dismissed or reduced to an offense that is definitely not removable. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.
It depends on what sex offender "tier" the defendant has been classified as:
|Sex Offender Level in Nevada||Length of time the offender has to register|
15 years, though it may be lessened to 10 years if the defendant has been fully compliant and has not been convicted of another felony
For life, though it may be lessened to 25 years for Nevada juvenile court defendants who have been compliant and have not been convicted of another felony
Eligible Tier I and III offenders must petition the court to hold a hearing to determine whether they may get off the sex offender registry early.
Arrested? Call us . . .
If you are accused of violating NRS 179D.550, call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) today. Our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers can meet with you for free to discuss whether we may get the charge reduced to a lesser offense or dismissed completely.
Arrested in California? Go to our article on California laws for failure to register as a sex offender (Penal Code 290 PC).
Arrested in Nevada? Go to our article on Colorado laws for failure to register as a sex offender (18-3-412.6 & 18-3-412.5 C.R.S.).
- NRS 179D.097.
- NRS 179D.441; NRS 179D.445; NRS 179D.447; NRS 179D.450; NRS 179D.460; NRS 179D.470.
- NRS 179D.550 Prohibited acts; penalties; duties of local law enforcement agency.
1. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, an offender or sex offender who:
(a) Fails to register with a local law enforcement agency;
(b) Fails to notify the local law enforcement agency of a change of name, residence, employment or student status as required pursuant to NRS 179D.447;
(c) Provides false or misleading information to the Central Repository or a local law enforcement agency; or
(d) Otherwise violates the provisions of NRS 179D.010 to 179D.550, inclusive,
--> is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
2. An offender or sex offender who commits a second or subsequent violation of subsection 1 within 7 years after the first violation is guilty of a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130. A court shall not grant probation to or suspend the sentence of a person convicted pursuant to this subsection.
3. If a local law enforcement agency is aware that an offender or sex offender in its jurisdiction has failed to comply with a provision of NRS 179D.010 to 179D.550, inclusive, the local law enforcement agency must take any appropriate action to ensure compliance.
- NRS 179D.460.
- NRS 179D.470.
- NRS 179D.480.
- NRS 179D.550.
- NRS 207.010.
- NRS 483.283; see State of Nevada Gaming Employee Registration Application.
- NRS 483.283.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.
- Pannu v. Holder, 639 F.3d 1225 (9th Cir. 2011)("We concluded that 'it is the sexual offense that is reprehensible, not the failure to register' and that although the registration laws may serve useful purposes, 'the mere failure to register as a sex offender cannot constitute morally turpitudinous behavior.'").