NRS 205.226 makes "stealing a gun" is a felony under Nevada theft law and Nevada firearm law. It does not matter if the firearm is broken, worth little money, or has already been stolen by someone else.
Three common strategies to fight Nevada gun theft charges include:
- The gun belonged to the defendant,
- The police in the case carried out an illegal search, or
- The defendant had no intent to steal
Violating NRS 205.226 is a category B felony in Nevada, carrying a sentence of:
In addition, the defendant loses their right to have firearms. Only a Nevada pardon can restore their right.
On this page, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys delve into the Nevada offense of grand larceny of a firearm. Keep reading to learn the definition of grand theft gun, ways to defend against criminal charges, and possible punishments.
The Nevada crime of grand larceny of a firearm occurs when someone intentionally steals, takes and carries away a firearm owned by another person.1 NRS 205.226 applies to all types of guns, such as shotguns, rifles, semi-automatic guns, automatic guns, and handguns.
Stealing a firearm is a form of grand larceny in Nevada even if the gun itself is inexpensive, defective, or is in possession of someone who him/herself has stolen it. Furthermore, defendants face separate charges for each individual gun that they allegedly took even if the guns were all taken at the same time. Mesquite criminal defense attorney Michael Becker provides an example:
Example: Rodney goes to a house party in Las Vegas. On his way to the bathroom, he catches sight of the host's gun collection. He cannot afford guns of his own, so he slips two of the guns into his satchel. Another guest catches Rodney and call the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, who book him at the Clark County Detention Center on two counts of grand larceny of a firearm--one for each pistol.
Note that defendants accused of stealing guns in Nevada who have previously been convicted of a felony face an additional charge: The Nevada crime of ex-felons in possession of a firearm. Anyone who has been convicted of a felony is prohibited from owning or possessing a gun in Nevada. It makes no difference whether that past felony was gun-related.2
The standard defenses to Nevada grand theft firearm charges are the same as for any larceny charge. They turn on the gun's rightful owner, the defendant's state of mind, or the lawfulness of the police's conduct.
- The defendant owned or rightfully possessed the gun. It is not theft for someone to take what already belongs to him/her. Perhaps the accuser in the case wrongfully believed that the gun did not belong to the defendant. It would be helpful if the defense attorney could produce proof that the defendant legally owned or was in legal possession of the gun. Then the charges should be dropped.
- The police committed misconduct. Law enforcement is obligated to conduct searches and seizures without the bounds of the U.S. Constitution's warrant requirements. If the cops may have overstepped their bounds and performed an illegal search, then the defendant can ask the judge to throw out any evidence found from that illegal search. Then if the judge grants the defendant's motion to suppress evidence in Nevada, the prosecution may be left with too little evidence to win a guilty verdict.
- The defendant had no intention of stealing. NRS 205.226 only prohibits deliberate stealing. If the defendant took someone else's gun by accident or honestly believed the gun belonged to him/her, then no crime was committed. Mesquite criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse provides an illustration.
Example: Kevin brings his guns to an outdoor shooting competition near Lake Mead. Kevin begins feeling symptoms of sunstroke as the temperature reaches 110 degrees, so he decides to pack up his belongings and go home. Disoriented, he unknowingly takes a fellow competitor's gun case. The competitor calls the Henderson Police Department, who then book Kevin at the Henderson Detention Center for stealing a gun.
In the above example, Kevin's defense attorney would probably explain the situation to the prosecutor and produce the name of several witnesses that can attest to Kevin's compromised state of mind at Lake Mead due to the heat. The prosecutor may then realize that he does not have sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Kevin meant to steal and therefore dismiss the charges.
Committing grand larceny of a firearm is prosecuted as a category B felony in Nevada. The punishment includes:
- One to ten years in Nevada State Prison, and
- a maximum of $10,000 in fines, and
- restitution of the victim's losses
Note that defendants convicted of stealing guns also lose their rights to own or possess firearms. The only way they can restore their gun rights is through an official Nevada pardon.
Also note that the potential penalties for the Nevada crime of ex-felons in possession of a firearm are similarly harsh but with lower maximums for incarceration and fines:
- One to six years in Nevada State Prison, and
- perhaps a maximum of up to $5,000 in fines
Arrested? Call our attorneys...
If you are facing charges for "grand larceny of a firearm" in Nevada? We may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed while saving your gun rights. Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys for a FREE consultation at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).
For information about California gun laws, read our article on California gun laws.
1 NRS 205.226 Grand larceny of firearm; penalty.
1. A person who intentionally steals, takes and carries away a firearm owned by another person commits grand larceny of a firearm.
2. A person who commits grand larceny of a firearm is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished 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 by a fine of not more than $10,000.
3. In addition to any other penalty, the court shall order the person who committed the grand larceny of the firearm to pay restitution.
2NRS 202.360 Ownership or possession of firearm by certain persons prohibited; penalties.
1. A person shall not own or have in his or her possession or under his or her custody or control any firearm if the person:
(a) Has been convicted of a felony in this or any other state, or in any political subdivision thereof, or of a felony in violation of the laws of the United States of America, unless the person has received a pardon and the pardon does not restrict his or her right to bear arms;
(b) Is a fugitive from justice; or
(c) Is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, any controlled substance.
Ê A person who violates the provisions of this subsection is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished 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.
2. A person shall not own or have in his or her possession or under his or her custody or control any firearm if the person:
(a) Has been adjudicated as mentally ill or has been committed to any mental health facility; or
(b) Is illegally or unlawfully in the United States.
Ê A person who violates the provisions of this subsection is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
3. As used in this section:
(a) “Controlled substance” has the meaning ascribed to it in 21 U.S.C. § 802(6).
(b) “Firearm” includes any firearm that is loaded or unloaded and operable or inoperable.