Abortion is legal in Nevada when it's performed by a licensed physician in accordance with accepted medical practices. Otherwise terminating a fetus is a serious felony carrying prison. Penalties aside, illegal abortions can also be very dangerous and even fatal to the mother.
A skilled Nevada criminal defense attorney may be able to get an unlawful abortion charge reduced to a lesser offense or dismissed completely. Keep reading to learn more about the Las Vegas offense of illegal abortions including possible punishments and defenses.
Nevada law permits abortion when it's done by a licensed doctor using standard medical procedures such as through Planned Parenthood. Otherwise, the legal definition of "illegal abortion" in Las Vegas, Nevada is two-fold:
- It's a crime for anyone to prescribe, supply or administer to a woman–whether pregnant or not–or advises or causes her to take any medicine, drug or substance to terminate a pregnancy.
- It's also a crime for anyone, including the pregnant woman, to use or cause to be used any instrument or other means to terminate a pregnancy.
Note that both the woman seeking an abortion as well as any person helping her to obtain an abortion may be prosecuted under NRS 201.120. Also note that merely attempting to carry out an illegal abortion is unlawful whether or not the woman turns out to have been pregnant.
For information on the Nevada crime of killing an unborn quick child under NRS 200.210, read our article on the Nevada crime of killing an unborn quick child.
Related crime - Selling Drugs to Produce a Miscarriage in Las Vegas, NV (NRS 201.130)
In Nevada it's illegal to sell, make or give away any instrument, drug, medicine or other substance knowing or intending that it may be unlawfully used in procuring a miscarriage. Therefore it'd be illegal to dispense the abortion pill RU486 unless the person's a licensed physician or pharmacist fulfilling a valid prescription.
Related crime - Concealing Birth in Las Vegas, NV (NRS 201.150)
It's unlawful in Nevada to try to conceal the birth of a child by disposing of its dead body whether or not the child died before or after birth. Note that if the defendant allegedly killed the baby before disposing of it, he faces additional charges for the Nevada crime of murder.
Related crime - Advertising goods and services in Nevada to produce a miscarriage (NRS 202.200)
It's illegal in Nevada to advertise any medicine, object, or services for producing a miscarriage or premature delivery of a baby. So for example pharmacists, doctors, and pro-choice activists may not lawfully publish advertisements for the abortion pill and related procedures. Unlawful advertisements take any form such as in newspapers, pamphlets, handbills, books, tv ads, radio ads, and internet ads.
Various defenses exist to fight an illegal abortion charge in Las Vegas. The following include common strategies a defense attorney may utilize depending on the circumstances of the case:
- Nevada Entrapment Theory of Defense: Las Vegas police may deploy undercover agents to initiate contact with people suspected of giving or seeking illegal abortions in Nevada. If a defense attorney can show that the defendant would not have sought or offered an illegal abortion had it not been for the agent's interference, chances are good that the defendant will win the case on the Nevada entrapment theory of defense.
- Lack of evidence: The D.A. has the burden to show that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before the defendant can be convicted. If a defense attorney can demonstrate that the state's evidence of the abortion or attempted abortion is unreliable or inadequate, the defendant should not be held liable.
- Police misconduct: Police may not conduct searches unless there's probable cause to believe a crime has occurred. If the police may have lacked probable cause, then a defense attorney can file a Nevada motion to suppress asking the court to disregard any evidence the police found from their illegal search. If the court grants the Nevada motion to suppress, the whole case may be dismissed for lack of proof.
The Las Vegas crime of illegal abortion under NRS 202.120 is punished the same as the Nevada crime of voluntary manslaughter, which is a category B felony in Nevada. The punishment for a category B felony in Nevada includes a sentence of:
- 1 - 10 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- maybe up to $10,000 in fines
Related crimes (NRS 201.130; NRS 201.150; NRS 202.200)
Making, selling or giving away any instrument or drug to induce a miscarriage is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada. Concealing the birth of a baby by disposing of its corpse is also a gross misdemeanor in Nevada. Finally, advertising services, medicines or devices to cause a miscarriage or premature birth is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada. Each crime carries a sentence of:
- up to 364 days in jail, and/or
- up to $2,000 in fines
Remember that abortions performed by anyone other than a licensed physician can be extremely dangerous resulting in serious illness or death to the mother.
Arrested? There's help . . . .
If you've been accused of making having, giving or facilitating an illegal abortion under NRS 201.120, contact Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free meeting. They can usually negotiate a favorable resolution without a trial. But if necessary they'll take your case to a jury to fight for a "not guilty" verdict. For analysis of the law in California, please see our page on abortion laws and limitations in Califonia.