NRS 212.160 - "Furnishing weapons, intoxicants or drugs to state prisoners" in Nevada

NRS 212.160 is the Nevada law that prohibits giving weapons, narcotics, or alcohol to prisoners. It makes no difference if the defendant physically gives the item to the inmate or leaves it somewhere for the inmate to obtain. The statute states:

A person, who is not authorized by law, who knowingly furnishes, attempts to furnish, or aids or assists in furnishing or attempting to furnish to a prisoner confined in an institution of the Department of Corrections, or any other place where prisoners are authorized to be or are assigned by the Director of the Department, any deadly weapon, explosive, a facsimile of a firearm or an explosive, any controlled substance or intoxicating liquor, shall be punished:

      (a) Where a deadly weapon, controlled substance, explosive or a facsimile of a firearm or explosive is involved, 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 an intoxicant is involved, for a gross misdemeanor.

Penalties include fines as well as incarceration.  However the charges may be reduced or dismissed with an adept Nevada criminal defense attorney handling the case.

This article explains the Nevada crime of furnishing weapons, intoxicants or controlled substances to state prisoners under NRS 212.160.  Continue reading to learn the scope of this offense, possible defenses, and potential penalties.

alcohol bottle (NRS 212.160)
It is illegal under NRS 212.160 to give alcohol to a prisoner in Nevada.

Definition of furnishing weapons, drugs, or alcohol to prisoners in Nevada under NRS 212.160

It's a crime in Nevada for someone to knowingly give a state prisoner either:

  • a deadly weapon (or a copy of one),
  • an explosive (or a copy of one),
  • a controlled substance (including prescription drugs), or
  • intoxicating liquor

This crime typically occurs during a prison's visiting hours. Moapa Valley criminal defense attorney Michael Becker gives an example:

Tammy, who suffers from migraines, is incarcerated at Florence McClure Women's Correctional Center in North Las Vegas.  Tammy's mother, Ann, visits Tammy and slips her a Vicodin under the table to help with the pain.  If caught, Ann could be booked at the North Las Vegas Detention Center for furnishing a controlled substance to a prisoner.

In the above example, it doesn't matter that Ann meant well or that Tammy has a prescription for Vicodin.  Giving ... or attempting to give ... any type of drug, alcohol or deadly weapon to a prisoner is unlawful in Nevada unless the person is legally authorized to do so.

Note that a person may be prosecuted under NRS 212.160 even if he/she doesn't physically hand a deadly weapon, drug or alcohol to an inmate.  It's equally illegal for a person to leave those items in a place where a prisoner may later obtain it. Boulder City criminal defense lawyer Neil Shouse explains:

Brent is incarcerated at Warm Springs Correctional Center in Carson City. One night Brent's friend, Chris, drives to the prison and leaves a sharp knife next to the barbed wire gate where the inmates take their exercise.  If caught, Chris could be booked at the Washoe County Detention Center for leaving a weapon where a prisoner may be able to get at it.

In the above example, it makes no difference that Brent didn't know that Chris left the knife there or that Brent never tried to get the knife.  The mere act of leaving a weapon where a prisoner may possess is illegal under Nevada law.

Note that it's also illegal to give an inmate telephones.  And it's unlawful for prisoners to possess weapons, drugs or phones.  Learn more in our articles on the Nevada crime of furnishing telephones to prisoners (NRS 212.165) and the Nevada crime of prisoners possessing drugs, weapons, or phones.

Defenses to Nevada charges of giving weapons, drugs, or alcohol to inmates

A defendant should not be convicted of violating NRS 212.160 unless the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted "knowingly."  If the defense attorney can show that the defendant mistakenly left the weapon, drugs or alcohol with the prisoner . . . or that the prisoner swiped them without the defendant knowing . . . then charges should be dropped.

Penalties for furnishing weapons, drugs, or alcohol to prisoners in Nevada under NRS 212.160

The punishment for furnishing Nevada state prisoners with prohibited items depends on what the item allegedly was:


Knowingly giving a prisoner an intoxicant is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada. The sentence carries:

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

Drugs or Weapons

Knowingly giving a prisoner controlled substances, deadly weapons, explosives, or a facsimile of a firearm or explosive is a category B felony in Nevada. The sentence carries:

Obviously, the defendant may face additional charges for violating Nevada drug crimes and Nevada firearms crimes.

Arrested?  Call . . .

If you've been accused of furnishing a Nevada state prisoner with weapons, intoxicating drinks, or drugs, then contact our Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).  We'll discuss all your options for free, including the possibility of getting your charges lessened or even thrown out altogether.  And if necessary, we'll take your case all the way to trial.

Also see our related article on the Nevada crime of escaping prison (NRS 212.090).

We represent client throughout Nevada, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Washoe County, Reno, Carson City, Laughlin, Mesquite, Bunkerville, Moapa, Elko, Pahrump, Searchlight and Tonopah.


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