Nevada "Identity Theft" laws
(Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys)


Nevada's identity theft laws comprise several different crimes that involve people intentionally using a false identity or misusing another person's identity. ID theft remains illegal even if no victim ultimately suffers any harm or losses. 

Three of Nevada's most frequently prosecuted ID theft crimes are the:

  1. The Nevada crime of using fake IDs (NRS 205.460 & NRS 205.465);
  2. Nevada crime of using another person's identifying information (NRS 205.463); and
  3. The Nevada crime of false impersonation (NRS 205.450)

Depending on the circumstances of the case, Identity theft can be prosecuted as a Nevada misdemeanor carrying only fines or a Nevada felony carrying Nevada State Prison. If applicable, defendants will also be ordered to pay restitution payments to the victim in Nevada.

It may be possible to get ID theft charges reduced to a lesser offense or dropped through a Nevada plea bargain. Typical defenses are that the defendant had no intent to commit a crime or that the police discovered its evidence through an illegal search in Nevada.

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss Nevada identity theft crimes. Click on a topic to jump to that section:

zeros and ones
ID theft is a Nevada crime even if the victim is not harmed.

1. Nevada's legal definition of identity theft

The general definition of ID theft is willfully using a false identity or another person's identifying information in a way that wrongs the other person or otherwise breaks the law:

1.1. Using fake IDs (NRS 205.460 & NRS 205.465)

Nevada law prohibits having or selling any form of personal identification for the purpose of passing oneself off as someone he/she is not. Five examples of fake ID crimes include:

  1. An underage person using a falsified driver's license indicating he/she is old enough to purchase alcohol or marijuana;
  2. An illegal alien using fake naturalization papers to get a job that only legal aliens are eligible for;
  3. A civilian using a fake military ID to get veteran benefits;
  4. A young person using a fake ID to become a member of an organization he/she is not eligible for, such as AARP; or
  5. Selling or transferring fake IDs to other people

Note that Nevada courts will presume that a defendant had intent to commit ID theft if he/she possessed the identifying information of at least five different people. However, the defendant has the opportunity to "rebut" this presumption if the case goes to trial.

1.2. Misusing another person's identifying information (NRS 205.463)

It is against Nevada law to use another person's "identifying information to either:

  • harm the other person;
  • obtain access to more personal identifying information without that person's consent;
  • obtain the other person's nonpublic records -- such as communications or transactions -- without that person's consent; or
  • commit any other crime, such as obtaining credit or anything of value in the other person's name

It is also an NRS 205.463 violation to use another person's ID in attempt to avoid or delay being prosecuted.

Note that a victim's "identifying information" comprises any kind of personal data unique to that person's identity. Common examples include:

  1. current or former name or mother's maiden name,
  2. driver's license number or passport number,
  3. social security number, Medicaid account number, or SNAP number,
  4. bank or credit card number (and PINs),
  5. date of birth,
  6. biometric information (such as fingerprints, facial scan identifiers, voiceprint, retina image, and iris image),
  7. electronic signature,
  8. email, phone number, or passwords
  9. professional license number, and
  10. utility account numbers1
sign
There are many types of ID theft in Nevada.

Note that Nevada courts will presume that a defendant had intent to commit ID theft if he/she possessed the identifying information of at least five different people. However, the defendant has the opportunity to "rebut" this presumption if the case goes to trial.

1.3. Nevada crime of false impersonation (NRS 205.450)

False impersonation occurs when someone falsely represents him/herself as another person while either:

  • getting married;
  • transacting a real estate deal;
  • confessing to a criminal offense or civil judgment;
  • acting as bail or surety in any legal proceeding;
  • carrying out any other action in the course of a lawsuit or proceeding that compromises another's monetary interests

Note that an NRS 205.450 violation only applies to situations where the defendant is allegedly impersonating an actual person, not a fictional one.

2. Nevada penalties for identity theft

The penalties for ID theft depend on the specific actions the defendant was convicted of. In addition to the penalties listed below, the court may also order restitution payments to the victim (if any).2

Nevada Identity theft offense

Sentence

Possession of a fake ID to drink, gamble, or buy cigarettes (NRS 205.460)

Misdemeanor:

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

Selling or giving away a fake ID to drink, gamble, or buy cigarettes (NRS 205.460)

Gross misdemeanor in Nevada:

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

Possessing false identification to establish a fake identity (NRS 205.465)

Category E felony in Nevada:

A first-time offense is usually probationable. Otherwise, the judge may impose:

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

Selling or transferring a fake ID (NRS 205.465)

or

Possessing a fake ID to carry out the Nevada crime of forgery, debit card fraud, the Nevada crime of credit card fraud, or online fraud (NRS 205.465)

or

Knowingly using another's ID to avoid prosecution for an unlawful act (NRS 205.463)

or

False impersonation (NRS 205.450)

Category C felony in Nevada:

  • 1 - 5 years in prison, and
  • up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

Knowingly obtaining another's ID with the intent to break the law and uses it to break the law (NRS 205.463)

or

Selling or transferring the personal identifying information of a person 60 or older, a vulnerable person, or of five (5) or more people (NRS 205.465)

or

Causing another person to suffer a financial loss or injury of $3,000 or more as a result of selling or giving away personal identification information (NRS 205.465)

Category B felony in Nevada:

  • 1 - 20 years in prison, and
  • up to $100,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

The minimum prison sentence for NRS 205.263 violations increases to 3 years if either:

  1. the victim is at least 60 years old or disabled,
  2. the defendant used the IDs of at least 5 people,
  3. the victim lost at least $3,000, or
  4. the defendant was avoiding prosecution for a category A felony in Nevada or a category B felony

In federal court, identity theft is usually prosecuted under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998. Possible sentences upon conviction carry up to 25 years in prison as well as high fines.

3. Defenses to identity theft charges in Nevada

The most common defense to identity theft allegations is that the defendant did not act knowingly or intend to break the law. Accidental incidents of ID theft are not criminal under Nevada law. Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker provides an example.

cartoon
Lack of criminal intent is a defense to ID theft charges.

Example: Jenine shares a computer with her roommate Kelly, and they both have Amazon accounts. One day Jenine logs into Amazon, not realizing that the browser used Kelly's saved password information to log in to Kelly's account. While unwittingly logged into Kelly's account, Jenine buys a thousand dollars worth of clothes.

Although Jenine bought the clothes through Kelly's account, Jenine genuinely thought she was using her own account. Therefore, Jenine should not be convicted of any identity theft crimes because she had no criminal intent. However, Jenine would be legally required under civil law to reimburse Kelly for the thousand dollars.

Another common defense to ID theft accusations is that the police committed an unlawful search and seizure. Whenever law enforcement may have violated the Fourth Amendment while obtaining evidence of a crime, the defendant can ask the court to suppress the unlawfully-obtained evidence in Nevada.

If the court agrees to disregard the unlawfully-obtained evidence, then the D.A. may be left with too little proof to continue prosecuting the case. The D.A. may then be agreeable to offering a favorable plea bargain or dismissing the case altogether.

4. Immigration consequences for identity theft

Courts differ on whether ID theft qualifies as a crime involving moral turpitude and is therefore deportable.3Anyone who is not a U.S. citizen is always advised to hire an experienced criminal defense and immigration attorney whenever criminal charges are pending; the attorney may be able to get the case dismissed or at least reduced to a non-deportable offense.

Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada

5. Sealing criminal records for identity theft in Nevada

The waiting period before an ID theft defendant can pursue a record seal depends on what category of crime he/she was convicted of:4

ID theft conviction in Nevada

Record seal wait-time

Category B felony

5 years after the case ends

Category C felony

5 years after the case ends

Category D felony

5 years after the case ends

Category E felony

2 years after the case ends

Gross misdemeanor

2 years after the case ends

Misdemeanor

1 year after the case ends

Note that if the case gets dismissed, then defendant can petition the court for a record seal right away.5 Learn more about how to seal Nevada criminal records.

6. Related offenses

6.1. Credit card fraud (NRS 205.760)

credit card fraud
Credit card fraud is usually a category D felony in Nevada.

The Nevada crime of credit card fraud occurs when someone deliberately misuses credit card information to others' detriment. Common examples are using another person's credit card without permission or lying on a credit card application.

Credit card fraud is typically prosecuted as a category D felony, carrying:

  • 1 - 4 years in prison, and
  • up to $5,000 in fines (at the court's discretion), and
  • restitution (if applicable)

6.2. Counterfeiting Seals (NRS 205.175)

Counterfeiting official seals -- or utilizing authentic seals without permission -- is typically prosecuted as a category D felony, carrying:

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

Learn more about the Nevada crime of counterfeiting seals.

6.3. Forgery (NRS 205.090) 

The Nevada crime of forgery is when a person deliberately attempts to defraud others with falsified documents. It is a category D felony, carrying:

  • 1 - 4 years in prison, and
  • up to $5,000 in fines (at the court's discretion), and
  • restitution (if applicable)
Male receptionist waiting for your call.
Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation today.

Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

Have you been accused of ID theft in Nevada? Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE consultation.

Our goal is to negotiate with prosecutors to get your charges reduced to lesser offenses or dismissed completely. But we are always ready to aggressively litigate your case all the way to trial if necessary.

In California? See our article about California ID theft laws | 530.5 PC.

In Colorado? See our article about Colorado ID theft laws | 18-5-902 C.R.S.


Legal References

  1. NRS 205.4617.
  2. NRS 205.450; NRS 205.460; NRS 205.463; NRS 205.465.
  3. See, e.g., Ibarra-Hernandez v. Holder, 770 F.3d 1280 (9th Cir. Nov. 5, 2014); Linares-Gonzalez v. Lynch, 823 F.3d 508, 514 (9th Cir. 2016).
  4. NRS 179.245.
  5. NRS 179.255.

Free attorney consultations...

The attorneys at Shouse Law Group bring more than 100 years collective experience fighting for individuals. We're ready to fight for you. Call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 855-LAW-FIRM for a free case evaluation.

Regain peace of mind...

Shouse Law Defense Group has multiple locations throughout California. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370