Nevada's legal definition of misdemeanor is a crime carrying a maximum of six months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines. Misdemeanors are Nevada's least serious offenses and have less consequences than felonies, which carry at least one year in prison. In most misdemeanor cases, courts impose only fines and no incarceration. And many misdemeanor charges get dismissed through a submittal.
Common examples of misdemeanors are:
- Traffic tickets,
- Trespass (NRS 207.200),
- Shoplifting (NRS 205.240) less than $650
- Breach of peace (NRS 203.010)
- Simple Battery (NRS 200.481)
People charged with a misdemeanor are not entitled to a jury trial but rather a bench trial. (However, people charged with misdemeanor battery domestic violence in Nevada may elect to have a jury trial.
Gross misdemeanors are more serious than misdemeanors. (But less serious than felonies). It may be possible to get gross misdemeanors reduced to misdemeanors as part of a plea bargain.. Depending on the case, it also may be possible to get a felony reduced to a misdemeanor as part of a plea.
Though misdemeanors are minor, they look bad on background checks. People can seal most misdemeanor convictions from their record one year after the case ends. However, some convictions require longer waits.
In this article, our Las Vegas misdemeanor attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about the definition, penalties, and other information about misdemeanor offenses in Nevada. Click on a topic to go to that section:
- 1. What are misdemeanors in Nevada?
- 2. What are misdemeanor penalties in Nevada?
- 3. Can I get a jury trial for a misdemeanor in Nevada?
- 4. Can I get misdemeanors sealed in Nevada?
- 5. Can a misdemeanor get me deported?
Misdemeanors are the least serious category of Nevada crimes. The next most serious are gross misdemeanors, and the most serious are felonies.
Note that Nevada does not have "infractions," which California does.
1.1. Common misdemeanors
Some of the most frequently prosecuted misdemeanor offenses in Nevada are:
- solicitation of prostitution
- petit larceny
- a first or second battery domestic violence with no injuries, deadly weapon or strangulation
- a first or second DUI with no injuries
The maximum punishment a Nevada judge may order for most misdemeanors in Nevada is the following:
- Up to $1,000 in fines, and/or
- Up to six (6) months in jail
For a defendant's first or second misdemeanor offense, Nevada prosecutors are often willing to negotiate a deal so the defendant does no jail at all. And if a defendant is charged with a felony or a gross misdemeanor, the defense attorney may be able to get the charge lessened to a misdemeanor as part of a plea bargain.
If a defendant is sentenced to incarceration for a misdemeanor conviction in Nevada, he/she will serve the time in a city or county jail. Note that jails are different from state prisons, which are located in more rural areas than jails and are reserved for people serving out felony sentences.
2.1. Pre-prosecution Diversion Program
In some cases, Nevada courts offer misdemeanor defendants "diversion" programs where they complete a course in exchange for getting the matter dismissed. The course may include an educational class, support group, anger management therapy, counseling, community service, restitution, prohibiting contact with certain persons or the imposition of a curfew, veteran programs, mental illness programs, intellectual disability programs, rehab, and/or more.
A defendant may be eligible for assignment to a pre-prosecution diversion program if the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor other than:
- A crime of violence as defined in NRS 200.408;
- Vehicular manslaughter;
- DUI; or
- A minor traffic offense
Furthermore, the defendant is not eligible for diversion if he/she has previously been:
- convicted of violating any criminal law other than a minor traffic offense; or
- ordered by a court to complete a pre-prosecution diversion program in Nevada.
If the defendant completes the diversion program successfully, the court will dismiss the case and order that all records related to the case be sealed. However, the defendant has the responsibility to mail the orders to seal to the various relevant agencies, such as the police department.
If the defendant does not complete the diversion program, the defendant must appear for an arraignment to enter a plea based on the original indictment, information, complaint or citation. (Nevada Assembly Bill 470 (2017))
No, unless the charge was for battery domestic violence. Defendants charged with a misdemeanor do not have the right to a trial by jury. They may have only a "bench trial," which is where the judge (called "the bench") serves as the trier of fact and decides the verdict him/herself.
The reason defendants cannot have jury trials in misdemeanor cases stems back to the U.S. Constitution's Sixth Amendment: The right to a jury trial is extended only to people facing charges that may carry more than six (6) months in jail. So because the maximum jail sentence for misdemeanors is only six (6) months, misdemeanor cases do not qualify for jury trials in Nevada.
Remember, an exception is battery domestic violence cases: Defendants may have a jury trial even if the charge is for just a misdemeanor.
3.1. Misdemeanors joined within cases with felonies and/or gross misdemeanors
Usually, municipal courts have jurisdiction over all misdemeanors committed in violation of the ordinances of their respective cities. But certain misdemeanors which would otherwise be under the jurisdiction of municipal courts must be joined with related felonies and gross misdemeanors in the district courts. (Nevada AB 412 (2017))
Usually, yes. Most misdemeanors may be sealed one (1) year after the case ends. But the following offenses mandate a two (2) year waiting period:
- misdemeanor battery
- misdemeanor harassment
- misdemeanor stalking
- violating a temporary or extended protection order for stalking or harassment
And the following offenses have a seven (7) year waiting period:
- misdemeanor DUI
- battery domestic violence convictions
Note that if a misdemeanor case gets dismissed (meaning there is no conviction), the record seal process may commence right away.
|Type of Nevada misdemeanor conviction||Waiting period to get a record seal|
Battery domestic violence
7 years after the case closes
Violating restraining order for stalking or harassment
2 years after the case closes
All other misdemeanors
1 year after the case closes
Usually not. But some misdemeanors qualify as "crimes involving moral turpitude" in Nevada, which are deportable. So it is crucial for any alien who is accused of a crime to retain counsel to attempt to get the charge dismissed or changed to something that will not threaten their resident status. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants.
Call us if you have been arrested . . .
Whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers have decades of experience in negotiating with prosecutors to ensure that your case gets resolved as favorably as possible. Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to discuss for free how we might be able to keep you out of jail and your record clean.
In California? Go to our article on California misdemeanor law.
In Colorado? Go to our article on Colorado misdemeanor law.