It is illegal to keep or carry knives, guns, or other weapons at Nevada schools or childcare facilities.1 Penalties include up to 1 year in jail.2 But a skilled Nevada criminal defense lawyer may be able to get the charge reduced or dismissed. Continue reading to learn the law, defenses and punishments.
Definition of Possessing Weapons on School Property
Schools and childcare facilities are meant to be safe havens for youngsters. Therefore Nevada law prohibits people from possessing or carrying dangerous weapons at the following locations:
- Public or private secondary schools (or vehicles belonging to them)
- Public universities
- Licensed child care facilities (or vehicles belonging to them)3
Schools and childcare facilities are weapons-free zones in Nevada.
The types of weapons banned from these school and childcare facilities include:
- Dirks, daggers, and switchblades knives
- Pistols, revolvers, or other firearms
- Explosive or incendiary devices
- Blackjacks, bill clubs, metal knuckles
- Nunchakus or trefoils
- Paintball guns or other devices used to mark other people with paint or other substances4
Any dangerous or deadly weapon is prohibited on school property in Nevada.
Note that NRS 202.265 applies not only to school and childcare structures but also to their grounds.5Laughlin criminal defense lawyer Michael Becker gives an example:
Max takes a walk through UNLV's campus while carrying his rifle. A cop with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department spots the gun. He then immediately arrests Max and books him at Clark County Detention Center. He is charged and ultimately convicted of carrying a weapon at a school.
It makes no difference in the above example that Max never entered any buildings at UNLV. Nor does it matter he had no intention of using the gun. Merely being on Nevada state university property while carrying a gun makes him criminally liable.
Nevada-run universities prohibit dangerous weapons on its grounds.
Securities guards and peace officers may carry weapons on school and childcare grounds. Otherwise people need written permission from school principals or branch university presidents to carry weapons.6 Meanwhile, childcare facilities located in a residential home have special rules:
- It is only during the facilities' normal operating hours that people cannot have or carry weapons there.
- The owner or operator of the facility may have and carry a weapon at any time as long as he/she resides in the home and complies with other Nevada weapons rules.
- People may have and carry weapons at a childcare facility if they receive written permission from the person designated by the facility to give permission to have and carry weapons.7
Defenses to possessing weapons on school property
The defense attorney's job is to try to keep the prosecution from proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
There are various ways to fight charges of violating NRS 202.265 in Nevada. The following are three of the more common strategies:
- Not a qualifying weapon. Perhaps the weapon in the case is not prohibited by law. For instance, switchblade-like knives with a blade of fewer than 2 inches long do not qualify as switchblades under Nevada law.8 If the defense attorney can show that the defendant's weapon was not specifically prohibited, the charge should be dropped. (Learn more about Nevada switchblade crimes)
The U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Illegal police search. If cops seized the defendant's weapon through an illegal search, there is a way to get the weapon excluded as evidence: The defense attorney can file a Nevada motion to suppress evidence with the court. This motion asks the judge to disregard all the evidence that the police unearthed through the unlawful search. Henderson criminal defense
attorney Neil Shouse provides an illustration:
A Henderson police officer gets a tip that someone was seen carrying a knife at Green Valley High School. The officer tracks the suspect down to his home and enters the house even though the suspect told him not to come in. The officer soon finds the knife in the house. He then arrests the suspect and books him at Henderson Detention Center for carrying a weapon on school grounds.
If the case in the above example goes to trial, the suspect's defense attorney would file a motion to suppress the knife as evidence. The attorney would argue that the police performed an illegal search by searching the suspect's house without a warrant. If the judge agrees and excludes the knife as evidence, the prosecution might dismiss the charges for lack of proof. Learn more about Nevada search and seizure laws
- Lack of knowledge. A defense to any possession-related charge is that the defendant did not know the weapon was there. For example, perhaps a third party planted the weapon in the defendant's bag. As long as the defendant honestly was not aware of the weapon's presence, he/she should not be criminally liable.
Note that the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment protects Americans' right to bear arms is not a defense to Nevada weapons crimes. Nor is it a defense that the defendant has a permit to carry concealed weapons. See our article on Nevada concealed carry laws.
Possessing weapons at a school carries up to 1 year in jail in Nevada.
Penalties for carrying knives, guns, or other weapons on school property in Nevada
Possessing or carrying a weapon on school property is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada. The sentence includes:
- Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
- up to $2,000 in jail9
A defense attorney may be able to get the judge to impose fines and/or probation instead of jail.
Arrested for having weapons at a school in Nevada? Call an attorney for help…
Call us at 702-DEFENSE
If you have been accused of “possessing or carrying a weapon at a school or childcare facility” in Nevada, phone our Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free meeting. We may be able to get the charge lessened to a minor offense or dismissed.
We represent clients throughout Nevada, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Washoe County, Reno, Clark County, Carson City, Laughlin, Mesquite, Bunkerville, Moapa, Elko, Pahrump, Searchlight and Tonopah.
- Go to our main article on Nevada knife laws.
- Go to our article on Nevada laws for drawing a deadly weapon in an angry manner. Go to our article on Nevada laws for carrying concealed dirks, daggers, or machetes. (NRS 202.350)
To learn about carrying California's Gun-Free School Zone Act, go to our informational article on California's Gun-Free School Zone Act.
1 NRS 202.265 (“1. Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person shall not carry or possess while on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a private or public school or child care facility, or while in a vehicle of a private or public school or child care facility:
(a) An explosive or incendiary device;
(b) A dirk, dagger or switchblade knife;
(c) A nunchaku or trefoil;
(d) A blackjack or billy club or metal knuckles;
(e) A pistol, revolver or other firearm; or
(f) Any device used to mark any part of a person with paint or any other substance.
2. Any person who violates subsection 1 is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
3. This section does not prohibit the possession of a weapon listed in subsection 1 on the property of:
(a) A private or public school or child care facility by a:
- Peace officer;
- School security guard; or
- Person having written permission from the president of a branch or facility of the Nevada System of Higher Education or the principal of the school or the person designated by a child care facility to give permission to carry or possess the weapon.
(b) A child care facility which is located at or in the home of a natural person by the person who owns or operates the facility so long as the person resides in the home and the person complies with any laws governing the possession of such a weapon.
4. The provisions of this section apply to a child care facility located at or in the home of a natural person only during the normal hours of business of the facility.
5. For the purposes of this section:
(a) “Child care facility” means any child care facility that is licensed pursuant to chapter 432A of NRS or licensed by a city or county.
(b) “Firearm” includes any device from which a metallic projectile, including any ball bearing or pellet, may be expelled by means of spring, gas, air or other force.
(c) “Nunchaku” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 202.350.
(d) “Switchblade knife” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 202.350.
(e) “Trefoil” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 202.350.
(f) “Vehicle” has the meaning ascribed to “school bus” in NRS 484A.230.”)
2 NRS 202.265(2).
3 NRS 202.265(1).
6 NRS 202.265(3)(a).
7 NRS 202.265(3)(b).
8See Bradvica v. State, 104 Nev. 475, 760 P.2d 139 (1988) (The Nevada Supreme Court held that a knife with a blade of only 1 5/16 inches long is not a “switchblade” under Nevada knife laws.)
9 NRS 202.265(2).