Identity Theft Laws in Las Vegas, Nevada

Updated


Las Vegas Nevada identity theft laws make it a crime to use a false identity to harm another person or to receive something of value to which you are not entitled. Three of Nevada's most frequently prosecuted ID theft crimes are Fake IDs (NRS 205.460 & NRS 205.465)Using another person's identifying information (NRS 205.463); and False impersonation (NRS 205.450).

ID theft is illegal even if no one suffers any harm or losses. Depending on the case, identity theft can be a misdemeanor carrying only fines. Or it can be a felony carrying Nevada State Prison. Defendants may also have to pay restitution payments to the victims.

It may be possible to get ID theft charges reduced to a lesser offense or dropped through a plea bargain. Two common defenses are:

  1. The defendant had no intent to commit a crime, or
  2. That the police discovered its evidence through an illegal search.

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:

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

1. What is ID theft in Las Vegas?

Nevada's legal definition of ID theft is willfully using a false identity or another person's identifying information. And it is done in a way that wrongs the other person and/or breaks the law.

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

State law prohibits having or selling any form of personal identification to pass oneself off as someone he/she is not. Five examples of Las Vegas fake ID crimes include:

  1. An underage person using a falsified driver's license. And it indicates he/she is old enough to buy alcohol or marijuana;
  2. An illegal alien having fake naturalization papers. And he/she uses it to get a job 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

Courts presume 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 state 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 Las Vegas ID theft.

Courts 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. 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; or
  • Carrying out any other action in the course of a lawsuit or proceeding that compromises another's monetary interests

NRS 205.450 applies only to impersonating an actual person. Not a fictional one.

2. What are the penalties?

The penalties for ID theft in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada 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

Las Vegas "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:

  • 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:

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 forgery, debit card fraud, 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:

  • 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:

  • 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 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. How do I fight the charges?

The most common defense to Las Vegas identity theft allegations is that the defendant did not act knowingly or intend to break the law. Accidental incidents of ID theft are no crime in Nevada:

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

Example: Jenine shares a computer with her roommate Kelly. They both have Amazon accounts. One day Jenine logs into Amazon. The browser used Kelly's saved password information to log in to Kelly's account. Jenine does not realize this. Jenine then buys a thousand dollars worth of clothes.

Jenine genuinely thought she was using her own account. Therefore, Jenine did not commit identity theft. She had no criminal intent. But Kelly could sue Jenine in civil court. And Jenine would have to reimburse Kelly.

Another common defense to ID theft accusations is that the police committed an unlawful search and seizure. Law enforcement is supposed to follow the Fourth Amendment while obtaining evidence of a crime. If they faltered, the defendant can ask the court to suppress the unlawfully-obtained evidence.

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 offer a favorable plea bargain or dismiss the case altogether.

4. What happens to immigrants?

Courts differ on whether ID theft is deportable.3 Non-U.S. citizens facing criminal charges should hire experienced counsel. An attorney may be able to get the case dismissed. Or else reduced to a non-deportable offense.

5. Can the record be sealed?

Yes, but there is a waiting period to seal convictions. The wait depends on the specific crime.4

Las Vegas ID theft conviction

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

There is no waiting period to get a record seal if the case gets dismissed.5 Learn more about how to seal Nevada criminal records.

6. Related offenses

6.1. Credit card fraud

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

Credit card fraud (NRS 205.760) is misusing credit card information to others' detriment. An example is using someone's credit card without permission. Another is lying on a credit card application.

Credit card fraud is typically prosecuted as a category D felony. It carries:

  • 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

Counterfeiting official seals is typically a category D felony. So is using authentic seals without permission. It carries:

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

Learn more about the counterfeiting seals (NRS 205.175).

6.3. Forgery

Forgery (NRS 205.090) is defrauding others with falsified documents. It is a category D felony. It carries:

  • 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...

Accused of ID theft in Las Vegas? Call our criminal defense attorneys. Reach us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). We give FREE consultations. We may be able to get the charge dismissed. Or substantially reduced.

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

In Colorado? See our article about 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