NRS 200.463 - Nevada "Involuntary Servitude" Laws
(NRS 200.4631; NRS 200.464; NRS 200.465)

NRS 200.463 is the Nevada law that prohibits involuntary servitude. The statute states a person commits involuntary servitude if he/she knowingly subjects another person to forced labor by:

(a) Causing or threatening to cause physical harm to any person;

(b) Physically restraining or threatening to physically restrain any person;

(c) Abusing or threatening to abuse the law or legal process;

(d) Knowingly destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating or possessing any actual or purported passport or other immigration document, or any other actual or purported government identification document, of the person;

(e) Extortion; or

(f) Causing or threatening to cause financial harm to any person,

Nevada has four separate involuntary servitude (IS) statutes that outlaw specific behaviors and carry different penalties:

Nevada Involuntary Servitude (IS) crime

Penalties*

NRS 200.463 - IS of an adult 18 or older

Category B felony in Nevada:

NRS 200.4631 - IS of a child under 18

Category A felony in Nevada:

  • life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years
  • Nevada Sex Offender Registration
  • possibly up to $50,000 in fines
  • restitution (at the judge's discretion)

NRS 200.464 - Recruiting victims/ transporting victims/ profiting from IS

Category B felony:

  • 1 – 15 years in prison
  • possibly up to $50,000 in fines
  • victim restitution in Nevada (at the judge's discretion)

NRS 200.465 - Assuming rights of ownership over another - "slavery"

Category B felony:

  • 5 – 20 years in prison
  • possibly up to $50,000 in fines
  • victim restitution in Nevada (at the judge's discretion)

*The prison sentence can be doubled (up to 20 extra years) if the IS was also a Nevada hate crime.

An arrest is only the beginning of a criminal case, and the D.A. may be willing to negotiate the charges down via a Nevada plea bargain. Possible defenses to NRS 200.463 charges include:

  1. The defendant was falsely accused;
  2. The defendant did not act knowingly; and/or
  3. The defendant was a lawful employer

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss the Nevada crime of involuntary servitude. Scroll down, or click on a topic to jump to that section:

chain
Forcing another human being to perform labor is a felony in Nevada.

1. Legal definition of "involuntary servitude" in Nevada

People commit involuntary servitude (IS) in Nevada if they knowingly force another person to work by either:

  • causing -- or threatening to cause -- physical harm or physical restraints or financial harm to any person;
  • abusing -- or threatening to abuse -- the law or legal process;
  • knowingly destroying or confiscating the victim's passport, immigration documents, or other forms of ID; or
  • committing the Nevada crime of extortion (NRS 205.320) against another person1

In short, it is an NRS 200.463 violation to coerce someone else into forced labor. Many forced labor cases involving undocumented workers go unreported because they fear outing their alien status. 

Example: Anya sneaks into the U.S. to try to earn money to send to her family in Russia. She gets a job in Henderson as a housekeeper for Jane, who then keeps Anya locked in the house and threatens to beat her if she does not work. If Anya calls the Henderson Police for help, Jane could be booked at the Henderson Detention Center for involuntary servitude. However, Anya then risks exposing her undocumented status to the authorities.

1.1. Involuntary servitude of minors in Nevada (NRS 200.4631)

NRS 200.4631 is specifically geared toward criminal suspects who either:

  1. have physical custody of a minor,
  2. allow a minor to reside in their residence,
  3. are in a position of authority over a minor, and/or
  4. provide care for any length of time to a minor

Defendants who fit either of the aforementioned four descriptions can be charged with IS of a minor if they either:

  • obtains labor or services from the minor by causing -- or threatening to cause -- serious harm to the minor, including physical injury, sexual abuse, or sexual assault;
  • benefit financially from the minor's labor or services

Note that defendants can still face charges for NRS 200.4631 even if the minor consents to his/her treatment.2

1.2. Recruiting or transporting people for -- or benefiting from -- involuntary servitude in Nevada (NRS 200.464)

handcuffs and cash
Getting money from forced labor is a category B felony in Nevada.

NRS 200.464 outlaws any action that facilitates involuntary servitude, such as recruiting or transporting the victims. This statute also outlaws people from benefiting financially from involuntary servitude, even if they are not the ones physically subjecting the victims to forced labor.3

1.3. Assuming rights of ownership over another person (NRS 200.465)

A person violates NRS 200.465 if he/she either:

  • assumes rights of ownership over another person (or tries to); or
  • buys or sells a person (or tries to)

In short, it is illegal to treat people as property in Nevada.4

2. Penalties for "involuntary servitude" in Nevada

Holding an adult in involuntary servitude in violation of NRS 200.463 is a category B felony. The judge may order a fine of up to $50,000 as well as restitution to the victim. The prison sentence depends on whether the victim sustained substantial bodily harm from the forced labor or from trying to escape. 

  • If the victim was not seriously injured, the prison sentence is five to twenty (5 - 20) years.
  • If the victim did sustain substantial bodily harm, the sentence is seven to twenty (7 - 20)  years.5

And if the court finds that the defendant's actions qualify as a hate crime, the prison sentence could be as much as doubled (up to 20 extra years). A hate crime is where the defendant's actions were motivated by the victim's:

  • race,
  • sexual orientation,
  • religion,
  • color,
  • national origin,
  • physical or mental disability, or
  • gender identity or expression6

Example: John forces Max, who is mentally challenged, to work for John's Las Vegas landscaping business. John locks Max in his basement when Max is not working. If John is caught, the Las Vegas Police can book John at the Clark County Detention Center for involuntary servitude. If the prosecution believes that John exploited Max because of his diminished mental capacity, the charge would be treated as a hate crime.

If John in the above example gets convicted of IS and sentenced to 10 years in prison, the judge could double that underlying sentence to 20 years for being a hate crime.

2.1. Involuntary servitude of minors (NRS 200.4631)

Subjecting a child under 18 to involuntary servitude is a category A felony. The sentence is:

  • life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years,
  • Tier II Nevada sex offender status,
  • possibly up to $50,000 in fines, and
  • restitution to the victim (at the judge's discretion)

Note that the judge can double the prison sentence up to 20 extra years if the defendant committed IS as a hate crime.7

2.2. Recruiting or transporting people for -- or benefiting from -- involuntary servitude in Nevada (NRS 200.464)

woman in chains
Recruting people into forced labor is a category B felony in Nevada.

Recruiting or transporting people or otherwise benefiting from IS in violation of NRS 200.464 is a category B felony. The sentence is:

  • one to fifteen (1 - 15) years in prison,
  • possibly up to $50,000 in fines, and
  • restitution to the victim (at the judge's discretion)

Note that the judge can double the prison sentence if the defendant committed IS as a hate crime.8

2.3. Assuming rights of ownership over another person (NRS 200.465)

Buying, selling, or assuming ownership of another human being is a category B felony. The sentence is:

  • five to twenty (5 - 20) years in prison,
  • possibly up to $50,000 in fines, and
  • restitution to the victim (at the judge's discretion)

Note that the judge can double the prison sentence if the defendant committed IS as a hate crime.9

3. Fighting Nevada charges of "involuntary servitude" in Nevada

Although IS is a very serious crime, it is also very difficult for prosecutors to prove. They have to demonstrate several different "elements", and just one weak link could unravel the state's case.

Three common defense strategies to involuntary servitude allegations in Nevada are:

  1. The defendant was falsely accused
  2. The defendant did not act knowingly
  3. The defendant was a lawful employer

Typical evidence in these cases includes recorded communications, eyewitness accounts, video surveillance footage, and pay stubs.

3.1. The defendant was falsely accused

Perhaps a disgruntled worker wrongly accused his/her employer of involuntary servitude out of revenge or anger. Or perhaps the accused was mistaken for someone else who is the real culprit. If the defense attorney can show that the defendant is the victim of false allegations, the charges may be dropped.

3.2. The defendant did not act knowingly

People who do not know that their actions are contributing to involuntary servitude should not be convicted for it:

Example: Sam is holding Marie in involuntary servitude, but he tells everyone she is his live-in maid. Sam's neighbor Nancy mentions that she needs her grass cut. Wanting to impress Nancy, Sam says that he will pay for Marie to cut her grass. If Marie starts cutting Nancy's grass, Nancy should not be prosecuted for IS because she had no idea Sam is forcing her to work for no pay.

Although Nancy in the above situation technically contributed to Marie's plight by accepting her unpaid work, Nancy did so unknowingly because she believed Sam was paying her. Therefore, Nancy should not be criminally liable.

3.3. The defendant was a lawful employer

Sometimes law enforcement mistakes perfectly legal employment arrangements for involuntary servitude.

For instance, it is not unlawful for housekeeping staff to live with their employer. Nor is it unlawful for employers and employees to agree to nontraditional payment terms.

As long as the prosecutor cannot prove that the defendant is perpetuating forced labor, the case should be dismissed.

4. Deportation for "involuntary servitude"

Non-U.S. citizens convicted of violating NRS 200.463 or other IS laws probably will be deported after serving their prison sentence.10 Therefore, aliens facing IS charges should seek legal help prior to entering a plea or going to trial; the attorney may be able to negotiate a charge reduction or dismissal so that they may stay in the U.S.

Learn about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

5. Sealing Nevada records for "involuntary servitude"

gavel and folder
A conviction of forced labor against a child is not sealable in Nevada.

A Nevada conviction of involuntary servitude of a child (in violation of NRS 200.4631) may never be sealed. But all other IS convictions can usually be sealed ten (10) years after the case ends.11

Note that IS cases that get dismissed may be sealed right away, even if the alleged victim was a minor.12

Also, note that victims of involuntary servitude may be able to get immediate record seals for their own convictions of the Nevada crime of prostitution (NRS 201.354) or any other crime (not considered a "crime of violence").13

Learn more about how to seal criminal records in Nevada.

6. Related offenses

6.1. Human trafficking

The Nevada crime of human trafficking (NRS 200.467 & 200.468) is transporting illegal aliens into Nevada for illegal purposes, such as involuntary servitude. It is a category B felony carrying up to $50,000 in fines. The maximum sentence is 10 or 20 years in prison depending on the purpose of the trafficking.

6.2. Sex trafficking

The Nevada crime of sex trafficking (NRS 201.300) is forcing or inducing someone to engage in prostitution. Sex trafficking an adult is a category B felony carrying up to 10 years in prison. Meanwhile, sex trafficking a minor is a category A felony carrying a possible life sentence.

6.3. False imprisonment

The Nevada crime of false imprisonment (NRS 200.460) is restricting another person's freedom of movement without legal authority. False imprisonment is prosecuted as a gross misdemeanor in Nevada or a category B felony depending on the circumstances.

6.4. Kidnapping

The Nevada crime of kidnapping (NRS 200.310) is physically taking someone and carrying him/her away. In short, it is false imprisonment plus movement. Kidnapping is punished as a category A or B felony depending on the circumstances of the case.

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Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation today.

Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

If you are facing allegations of "involuntary servitude" in Nevada, call our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation about your case. Perhaps we can get the charges lessened to minor offenses or have them dropped altogether.

We represent clients throughout Nevada, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Washoe County, Reno, Carson City, Laughlin, Mesquite, Bunkerville, Moapa, Elko, Pahrump, Searchlight and Tonopah.


Legal References

  1. NRS 200.463  Involuntary servitude; penalties.

          1.  A person who knowingly subjects, or attempts to subject, another person to forced labor or services by:

          (a) Causing or threatening to cause physical harm to any person;

          (b) Physically restraining or threatening to physically restrain any person;

          (c) Abusing or threatening to abuse the law or legal process;

          (d) Knowingly destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating or possessing any actual or purported passport or other immigration document, or any other actual or purported government identification document, of the person;

          (e) Extortion; or

          (f) Causing or threatening to cause financial harm to any person,

    --> is guilty of holding a person in involuntary servitude.

          2.  Unless a greater penalty is provided in NRS 200.4631, a person who is found guilty of holding a person in involuntary servitude is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished:

          (a) Where the victim suffers substantial bodily harm while held in involuntary servitude or in attempted escape or escape therefrom, by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 7 years and a maximum term of not more than 20 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $50,000.

          (b) Where the victim suffers no substantial bodily harm as a result of being held in involuntary servitude, by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 5 years and a maximum term of not more than 20 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $50,000.

    See, e.g., Cody Miller, "Pahrump man arrested, charged with involuntary servitude", NBC 3 KSNV News (January 6, 2019).
  2. NRS 200.4631  Involuntary servitude of minors; penalties.

          1.  A person who has physical custody of a minor, allows a minor to reside in his or her residence, is in a position of authority over a minor or provides care for any length of time to a minor and who knowingly:

          (a) Obtains labor or services from the minor by causing or threatening to cause serious harm to the minor or by engaging in a pattern of conduct that results in physical injury to the minor, sexual abuse of the minor or sexual assault of the minor pursuant to NRS 200.366; or

          (b) Benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value other than sexual gratification from the labor or services obtained by the conduct specified in paragraph (a),

    --> is guilty of holding a minor in involuntary servitude.

          2.  A person who is found guilty of holding a minor in involuntary servitude is guilty of a category A felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life with the possibility of parole, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 15 years has been served, and may be further punished by a fine of at least $50,000.

          3.  Consent of the victim to the performance of any labor or services is not a valid defense to a prosecution conducted pursuant to this section.

          4.  Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a parent or guardian of a child from requiring his or her child to perform common household chores under the threat of the reasonable exercise of discipline by the parent or guardian of the child.

          5.  For the purposes of this section:

          (a) “Physical injury” includes, without limitation:

                 (1) A sprain or dislocation;

                 (2) Damage to cartilage;

                 (3) A fracture of a bone or the skull;

                (4) An injury causing an intracranial hemorrhage or injury to another internal organ;

                 (5) Permanent or temporary disfigurement, including, without limitation, a burn, scalding, cut, laceration, puncture or bite; or

                 (6) Permanent or temporary loss or impairment of a part or organ of the body.

          (b) “Serious harm” means any harm, whether physical or nonphysical, including, without limitation, psychological, financial or reputational harm, that is sufficiently serious, under the circumstances, to compel a reasonable person of the same background and in the same circumstances as the victim to perform or to continue to provide labor or services to avoid incurring that harm.

          (c) “Sexual abuse” includes acts upon a child constituting:

                 (1) Lewdness with a child pursuant to NRS 201.230;

                 (2) Sado-masochistic abuse pursuant to NRS 201.262;

                 (3) Sexual assault pursuant to NRS 200.366;

                 (4) Open or gross lewdness pursuant to NRS 201.210; and

                 (5) Mutilation of the genitalia of a female child, aiding, abetting, encouraging or participating in the mutilation of the genitalia of a female child, or removal of a female child from this State for the purpose of mutilating the genitalia of the child pursuant to NRS 200.5083.
  3. NRS 200.464  Recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining another person to be held in involuntary servitude; benefiting from another person being held in involuntary servitude; penalty.  Unless a greater penalty is provided pursuant to NRS 200.4631 or 200.468, a person who knowingly:

          1.  Recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides or obtains by any means, or attempts to recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide or obtain by any means, another person, intending or knowing that the person will be held in involuntary servitude; or

          2.  Benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participating in a violation of NRS 200.463 or 200.4631,

    --> 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 15 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $50,000.
  4. NRS 200.465  Assuming rights of ownership over another person; purchase or sale of person; penalty.  A person who:

          1.  Assumes or attempts to assume rights of ownership over another person;

          2.  Sells or attempts to sell a person to another;

          3.  Receives money or anything of value in consideration of placing a person in the custody or under the control of another;

          4.  Buys or attempts to buy a person;

          5.  Except as otherwise provided in chapter 127 of NRS, pays money or delivers anything of value to another in consideration of having a person placed in his or her custody or under his or her power or control; or

          6.  Knowingly aids or assists in any manner a person who violates any provision of this section,

    --> 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 5 years and a maximum term of not more than 20 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $50,000.
  5. NRS 200.463;

    NRS 200.466  Power of court to order restitution for violation of NRS 200.463, 200.464 or 200.465.

          1.  In addition to any other penalty, the court may order a person convicted of a violation of any provision of NRS 200.463, 200.464 or 200.465 to pay restitution to the victim as provided in subsection 2.

          2.  Restitution ordered pursuant to this section may include, without limitation:

          (a) The cost of medical and psychological treatment, including, without limitation, physical and occupational therapy and rehabilitation;

          (b) The cost of transportation, temporary housing and child care;

          (c) The return of property, the cost of repairing damaged property or the full value of the property if it is destroyed or damaged beyond repair;

          (d) Expenses incurred by a victim in relocating away from the defendant or his or her associates, if the expenses are verified by law enforcement to be necessary for the personal safety of the victim;

          (e) The cost of repatriation of the victim to his or her home country, if applicable; and

          (f) Any and all other losses suffered by the victim as a result of the violation of any provision of NRS 200.463, 200.464 or 200.465.

          3.  The return of the victim to his or her home country or other absence of the victim from the jurisdiction does not prevent the victim from receiving restitution.

          4.  As used in this section, “victim” means any person:

          (a) Against whom a violation of any provision of NRS 200.463, 200.464 or 200.465 has been committed; or

          (b) Who is the surviving child of such a person.
  6. NRS 193.1675
  7. NRS 200.4631; NRS 200.466; NRS 193.1675
  8. NRS 200.464; NRS 200.466; NRS 193.1675
  9. NRS 200.465; NRS 200.466; NRS 193.1675
  10. INA 237(a)(2)(A).
  11. NRS 179.245 (assuming IS is considered a "felony crime of violence").
  12. NRS 179.255.
  13. NRS 179.247; Nevada AB 243 (2017); Nevada Senate Bill 172 (2019).
 

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