Nevada "Grand Larceny" Laws (NRS 205.220)


Nevada law defines grand larceny (also called "grand theft") as deliberately stealing property valued at $650 or more. If the value of the stolen property is less than $650.00, the offense would be "petit (petty) larceny".

Stealing means taking property that belongs to another person or entity, without the rightful owner's permission. Common grand larceny cases involve the following scenarios:

  • taking money or goods from a store (shoplifting),
  • using an ATM to withdraw another person's money without that person's permission,
  • stealing furniture or other articles from a hotel room, or
  • stealing someone else's farm animals.1

There are many ways prosecutors determine whether the value of allegedly stolen property amounts to or exceeds $650. They may look to

  • price tags,
  • current market value, and/or
  • expert testimony.

In the end, courts will generally attribute to the property the highest reasonable value.2


The penalties for grand larceny depend on the value of the property that the defendant was accused of taking:

Value of stolen property Grand larceny punishment

$650 to less than $3,500

category C felony

·      1 – 5 years in Nevada State Prison, and

·      restitution payments, and

·      $10,000 fine (at the judge's discretion)

$3,500 or more

category B felony

·      1 – 10 years in Nevada State Prison, and

·      restitution payments, and

·      $10,000 fine

Because violating NRS 205.220 is a felony, defendants who have been convicted of it must wait at least 5 years after the case ends to get a criminal record seal.


Possible grand larceny defense strategies that could get charges dismissed or reduced include showing that:

  • The defendant owned the property,
  • The defendant had no intent to steal,
  • The property was worth less than $650, and/or
  • The police obtained evidence in violation of Nevada's search and seizure laws

As long as the prosecutor has insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, criminal charges should not be sustained.

In this article, our Las Vegas theft defense lawyers discuss:

grand larceny
Violating NRS 205.220 is a felony in Nevada.

1. Potential jail time for grand larceny in Nevada

The sentence for a grand theft conviction depends on the value of the allegedly stolen property:3

grand larceny

1.1. If the value is $650 to less than $3,500

If the value of the property is at least $650 but less than $3,500, grand theft is a category C felony. The sentence carries:

  • restitution of the items allegedly stolen, and
  • one to five (1 - 5) years in prison, and
  • up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

1.2. If the value is $3,500 or more

If the value of the property is $3,500 or higher, grand theft is prosecuted as a category B felony. The punishment includes:

  • restitution of the items allegedly stolen, and
  • one to ten (1 - 10) years in prison, and
  • a fine of up to $10,000

As a felony, violating NRS 205.220 carries other long-term consequences: A conviction may bar the defendant from owning a firearm, voting, serving in the government, or receiving welfare or food stamps.4 It also may disqualify the defendant from job opportunities.

2. Reducing or dismissing a Nevada grand larceny charge

Depending on the circumstances of the case, the prosecutor may be willing to lessen a grand theft charge to petty larceny or possibly dismiss the charge. Defendants with no prior criminal record and who pay full restitution have the best chance of getting the charges ultimately dropped or lessened to a misdemeanor.

3. Defenses to grand larceny in Nevada

A sampling of the defense strategies in Nevada grand theft cases include demonstrating that:

  1. The defendant owned the property,
  2. The defendant lacked any intent to steal,
  3. The property was worth less than $650, and/or
  4. The police search was unlawful

Note that it is not a defense to theft charges that the suspect was caught before he/she could leave the premises with the property.

3.1. The property belonged to the defendant

It is impossible for people to steal property that belongs to them. Sometimes questions of ownership become complicated when more than one person own a particular item, or if a person uses aliases. Mesquite criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse gives an example:

Example: Neighbors Hal and Henry co-own a lawnmower that they share. Eventually they have a falling out and stop speaking. One day Hal takes the lawnmower from Henry's carport to use it on Hal's lawn. Angry, Henry calls the police to have him arrested for grand larceny. But since Hal co-owned the lawnmower, the most Hal can get cited for is trespassing on Hal's property.

As long as the prosecutor cannot prove that the defendant did not own the property in question, charges for violating NRS 205.220 should be dropped.

3.2. The defendant lacked intent to steal

Mistakenly taking another person's property is no crime. Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker illustrates how this could happen:

grand larceny

Example: After flying into Las Vegas, Jeb absent-mindedly takes the wrong suitcase from the carousel and tries to leave McCarran Airport. The passenger who owns the suitcase alerts the police, who detain Jeb at the taxi line.

The suitcase's owner is furious and insists the police arrest Jeb for stealing. But Jeb explains how his luggage looks nearly identical to the suitcase he took by accident. When the officers realize that Bill simply made a mistake and had no intention of stealing the suitcase, the officers let him go without being arrested.5

Since intent is not something visible or concrete, courts rely on circumstantial evidence to determine whether a person had intent to steal. This includes everything from the defendant's behavior and eyewitness accounts to police reports and surveillance video.

3.3. The property was worth less than $650

Sometimes defendants are wrongly charged with grand theft instead of petit larceny. Boulder City criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse gives an example:

Example: Las Vegas Metropolitan police arrest Betsy for stealing her co-worker Jan's silver necklace. Jan told prosecutors that the necklace is a priceless heirloom worth thousands of dollars, so Betsy gets charged with violating NRS 205.220.

Betsy's attorney gets the court's permission to have the necklace independently appraised. The appraisers value it at only $300. Furthermore, similar necklaces on the market sell for about $300. The court then grants Betsy's attorney's motion to dismiss the case, and the prosecutor instead charges Betsy with only petit larceny.

In the above example, it makes no difference that the necklace was invaluable to Jan. As discussed in section one above, courts look to the fair market value when determining stolen property's worth.

3.4. The police conducted an illegal search

The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. In reality, the police do not always follow the rules when they hunt for evidence. Sometimes they neglect to get a warrant when one is necessary. Or the warrant they get may be invalid.

Whenever the police find evidence through an unlawful search, the defendant's attorney can make a motion to suppress the evidence. If the court grants the motion, the D.A. may be left with too weak of a case to continue prosecuting.6

grand larceny

In any larceny case, an experienced defense attorney will gather all available evidence, review the relevant statutes and latest case law, file any necessary documents and motions with the court, and craft the most effective strategy while protecting the defendant's constitutional rights.

The ultimate goal is to do everything possible in an effort to get the charges dropped, negotiate a favorable plea bargain, or litigate the case until the trial ends with an acquittal.

4. Getting a grand larceny case sealed in Nevada

There is a five (5) year wait-time after the case closes before a defendant can pursue a record seal for a grand theft conviction.7

Note that the waiting period reduces drastically if the charge gets reduced or dismissed:

Potential results of a grand larceny case in Nevada Wait-time for criminal record seal

Dismissal or acquittal (no conviction)

No wait-time8

Reduction to a misdemeanor (such as petty larceny)

1 year after case closes

Reduction to a gross misdemeanor (such as possession of burglary tools)

2 years after case closes

Guilty verdict or guilty plea to grand larceny (no reduction or dismissal)

5 years after case closes9

Employers are much more likely to pass over job applicants with theft offenses on their background checks than those with clean records. So anyone with criminal records are encouraged to explore getting a seal as soon as it is available.

5. Grand larceny is a deportable offense

Larceny falls under not one but two classes of deportable offenses:

  1. crimes involving moral turpitude,10 and
  2. aggravated felonies (if the defendant was sentenced to one (1) year or more in prison)11

Therefore, immigrants arrested for grand theft should seek legal counsel immediately to try to get the charge dismissed or changed to a non-removable offense. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

6. Grand larceny versus other larceny crimes

Nevada theft offense

Difference from grand larceny

Petty larceny (NRS 205.240)

The only difference between grand larceny and petty (petit) larceny is the value of the allegedly stolen goods. Stealing items worth less than $650 is petty larceny, which is always a misdemeanor.

Grand larceny of a motor vehicle (NRS 205.228)

Like it sounds, this crime applies to auto thefts. It is always prosecuted as a felony regardless of the car's worth.

Grand larceny of a firearm (NRS 205.226)

Like it sounds, this crime applies to stealing guns. It is always prosecuted as a felony regardless of the gun's worth.

Burglary (NRS 205.060)

Burglary is the act of entering any building, vehicle, or structure with the intent to commit certain crimes...such as larceny...while inside.

In contrast, grand larceny is not limited to indoors. And people may be convicted of violating NRS 205.220 even if they do not form an intention to steal until they are inside.

Larceny from a person (pick-pocketing) (NRS 205.270)

Like it sounds, this crime applies to stealing money or items from another's person without force or threats. Victims are typically unaware they are being stolen from until after it happens.

If the property is not on or being carried by a person, then stealing the property is grand larceny.

7. Other Nevada theft crimes

Nevada theft offense Definition

Robbery (NRS 200.380)

Using physical force or verbal threats to steal someone's property qualifies as robbery.

Possession of stolen property (NRS 200.275)

Knowingly possessing stolen property is just as illegal as knowingly stealing another's property.

Possession of lost property (NRS 205.0832(d))

Finders cannot be keepers unless the finders take reasonable measures to search for the lost property's owner.

Embezzlement (NRS 205.300)

People entrusted with another's property who then fail to return it face embezzlement charges. Not returning a rented car is an example.

Bait-purse theft (NRS 205.0832(d))

In Las Vegas, police searching for thieves routinely plant "lost" purses and wallets in public areas such as casinos.

Call us if you have been arrested for theft

If you would like to explore getting your Nevada larceny charges reduced or dismissed, call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). Our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers can speak with you for free.

We will investigate, negotiate, and litigate in pursuit of the best possible outcome in your case. And if necessary, we are prepared to take your case all the way to a jury and argue zealously for a "not guilty" verdict.

¿Habla español? Visita nuestra página web en español sobre las leyes de Nevada gran hurto.

Arrested in California? Go to our webpage about California grand theft law.

Arrested in Colorado? Go to our webpage on Colorado felony theft laws.

 Legal References

  1. NRS 205.220.
  2. NRS 205.0834; Calbert v. State, 85 Nev. 635, 461 P.2d 408 (1983)(" The price tags...were competent evidence of the value of the stolen goods for purposes of establishing grand larceny."); Cleveland v. State, 85 Nev. 635, 461 P.2d 408 (1969)("The true criterion for the value of property taken is the fair market value of the property at the time and place it was stolen if there be such a standard market...But where such market value cannot be reasonably determined other evidence of value may be received such as replacement cost or purchase price."); Sheriff, Clark County v. Stevens, 97 Nev. 316, 630 P.2d 256 (1981)("The offense of burglary is complete when the house or other building is entered with the specific intent to commit larceny or any felony therein.Carr v. Sheriff, 95 Nev. 688, 601 P.2d 422 (1979); see NRS 205.060(1). If larceny or any felony is thereafter committed, the perpetrator has committed two crimes, and may be charged with burglary as well as larceny or the felony."); State v. Nelson, 11 Nev. 334 (1876)("The only thing essential in either case [robbery or larceny charges] seems to be an averment which shall show conclusively that the property does not belong to the defendant."); Point v. State, 102 Nev. 143, 717 P.2d 38 (1996)("In the absence of any legislative intent to the contrary, we similarly refuse to attribute to the Nevada Legislature an intent to compound the punishment for larceny, robbery or embezzlement by permitting convictions for the receipt or possession of stolen property against the one who took the property in the first instance. ").

  3. NRS 205.222.
  4. See NRS 179.285.
  5. See, e.g., State v. Green, 45 Nev. 297, 202 P. 368 (1921)("[I]t may be fairly said to state that, before a defendant who is charged with the larceny of property, and in whose possession it is alleged to have been found, can be convicted, three conditions must coexist, namely: (1) The possession must be actual; (2) it must be recent after the theft; and (3) it must be unexplained; and if the defendant makes an explanation of his possession that is reasonable, and consistent with innocence, and satisfactory to the jury, no inference of guilt can be drawn from such possession."); State v. Mandich, 24 Nev. 336, 54 P. 516 (1898)("In prosecutions for larceny the fact that the stolen property is, recently after the theft, found in the possession of the defendant, can always be given in evidence against him. The strength of the presumption which it raises against the accused depends upon all the circumstances surrounding the case, and is for the jury to determine."); State v. Clifford, 14 Nev. 72 (1879)("When property recently stolen is found in the possession of a person accused of the theft the accused person is bound to explain the possession in order to remove its effect as a circumstance indicative of guilt...But if there is no other evidence tending to establish the guilt of the defendant, and the jury are satisfied that he gives a reasonable account of his possession of the property, then it would be their duty to acquit.").
  6. See NRS 179.
  7. NRS 179.245.
  8. NRS 179.255.
  9. NRS 179.245.
  10. INA § 237(a)(2)(A).
  11. INA § 101(a)(43)-(45).

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