Nevada "Habitual criminals" Laws (NRS 207.010)

Nevada has its own version of California's "Three Strikes" law.  Being found guilty of a felony in Las Vegas when you already have two felony convictions may land you in prison for life.

Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience in fighting for "not guilty' verdicts and lesser charges so our clients avoid Nevada's "habitual offender" penalties.  Scroll down to learn more about the law and how we can help.

Nevada "Three Strikes" Law

In some cases, getting convicted of a third or subsequent felony is its own separate crime in Las Vegas.  It carries very harsh prison sentences that the defendant may serve in addition to penalties for the underlying felony.

There are three different classes of habitual offenders in Nevada with their own procedures and penalties:

  1. Habitual Felons,
  2. Habitual Fraudulent Felons, and
  3. Habitual Criminals.

Habitual Felons in Las Vegas, NV (NRS 207.012):

This class of habitual offender applies only to people who've been convicted of three of the following serious felonies:

  • murder
  • poisoning with intent to kill
  • perjuring yourself in order to have an innocent person executed
  • killing the person you're dueling with
  • soliciting someone to commit a murder, kidnapping, or arson
  • rape
  • kidnapping (including aiding or abetting)
  • robbery
  • burglary with explosives
  • invasion of a home with a deadly weapon
  • first-degree arson
  • battery with intent to commit rape
  • false imprisonment by a prisoner
  • involuntary servitude
  • racketeering
  • human trafficking
  • permitting a child under 14 to undergo sexual abuse resulting in substantial bodily harm in Nevada
  • permitting a child under 14 to undergo child abuse if you've been previously convicted of similar conduct
  • making child pornography
  • promoting a minor to do child pornography
  • lewdness with a child under 14
  • having sex with a corpse
  • poisoning food, water or medicine
  • transportation or receipt of explosives for unlawful purposes if substantial bodily harm in Nevada results
  • a second (or subsequent) offense of using or possessing explosives during the commission of a felony
  • use of explosives to damage or destroy property if substantial bodily harm results
  • escaping prison by using a weapon or hostages or by causing substantial bodily harm
  • allowing a child to be present during drug crimes (not counting marijuana)
  • making available a drug or controlled substance that causes death
  • vehicular homicide
  • DUI causing death
  • not stopping at a car accident causing injury or death
  • any attempted category A felony

Getting convicted of being a habitual felon is a category A felony in Nevada.  The judge may impose any of the following sentences:

  • life in Nevada state prison without the possibility of parole, or
  • life in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years, or
  • 25 years in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years

Habitual Fraudulent Felons in Las Vegas, NV (NRS 207.014):

This class of habitual offender applies when the defendant has been convicted of three fraud crimes where:

  • "Intent to defraud" is an element of the offense, and
  • the victim of the fraud was a person 60 years old or older1 or a person with a mental disability or a vulnerable person (such as being physically disabled)

Being a habitual fraudulent felon is a category B felony in Nevada carrying 5 to 20 years in prison.  To learn more about Las Vegas fraud laws, go to our informational article on Las Vegas fraud laws.

Habitual criminals in Las Vegas, NV (NRS 207.010):

Anyone who's been convicted of any five felonies may be prosecuted as a habitual criminal in Las Vegas (there are some exceptions for unlawful use of a controlled substance, or personal possession of drugs not considered flunitrazepam, gamma-hydroxybutyrate). It's the most frequently prosecuted repeat-offender crime precisely because it's not limited to the most serious felonies (like habitual felon) or fraud-related felonies (like habitual fraudulent felon).

The Nevada crime of habitual criminality is divided into two separate sub-crimes.  Which one the D.A. pursues depends on the defendant's criminal record:

If a defendant gets convicted of a felony and he/she's previously been convicted of five other felonies, it's a category B felony in Nevada punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison. But if the defendant has seven previous felonies, then it's a category A felony in Nevada carrying:

  • life in prison without the possibility of parole, or
  • life in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years, or
  • 25 years in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years

The slang for these two sub-crimes is "small bitch" and "big bitch" (the word bitch is from the second syllable of habitual).  As you might guess, "small bitch" is when a defendant convicted of a felony has five previous felonies, and "big bitch" is the when the defendant has seven.

How Nevada habitual offender laws work

When a defendant who's previously been convicted of enough felonies to qualify as a habitual offender, the D.A. may do one of two things:

  • The D.A. may charge the defendant with the appropriate habitual offender crime alongside the current felony charge.  Then if the felony charge is ultimately dropped or the defendant gets acquitted, the habitual offender charge would be dropped as well; or
  • The D.A. can wait to see if the defendant gets convicted of the current felony.  If so, the D.A. can then file separate habitual offender charges.

If the defendant is ultimately convicted of the felony but denies being a repeat offender, the court will then hold a hearing on the matter.  (If the D.A. waited to file habitual offender charges until after the defendant was convicted in the current felony case, then the hearing can't be held until at least 15 days after the filing.)

Two points to note:

  1. The D.A. has the discretion never to file "habitual criminal" charges, and the judge has the discretion to dismiss the charges if the D.A does file them.  But if the D.A. pursues habitual felon charges or habitual fraudulent felon charges, the judge does not have the discretion to dismiss those charges.
  2. If the D.A. agrees to a plea bargain where no repeat offender charges are filed, the court may on its own impose the charge anyway and adjudicate the defendant guilty.

Also note that federal law has its own three strikes law, and that people may be sentenced under it even if their first two "strikes" were in Nevada state court.  To learn more about the federal "three strikes" law, go to our article on the federal "three strikes" law.

Facing charges?  Call us . . . .

If you're facing a third felony charge in Nevada, call our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).  We may be able to get your charge lowered to a misdemeanor or dropped completely so you don't face Las Vegas's three strikes laws.

To learn about California three strikes law, go to our informational website at California three strikes law.

1 If the alleged crime was committed before October 1, 2003, the age of the elderly victim must be at least 65, not 60.

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