"Peering, peeping or spying into a dwelling" in Nevada Law
(NRS 200.603)
(Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers)

The Nevada crime of peering is the act of going on another's property with the intent to spy through a home's window, door, or other opening. Another word for violating NRS 200.603 is peeping or being a "Peeping Tom."

Peering is generally a misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying:

  • up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • up to a $1,000 fine

But penalties increase if the defendant had a camera or a deadly weapon at the time of the alleged spying. However, it may be possible to get peeping charges reduced or completely dismissed pursuant to a Nevada plea bargain. Common defense include:

  1. the defendant was falsely accused,
  2. the defendant no intent to spy, or
  3. the defendant owned or lived at the property

In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense attorneys discuss the following peering topics:

man looking through keyhole.
Being a Peeping Tom is usually prosecuted as a misdemeanor in Nevada.

1. Legal definition of peering in Nevada

Nevada law defines peering as intentionally going to another's home and spying through a window or other aperture. In short, Nevada prohibits being a "Peeping Tom."

Violating NRS 200.603 has three elements:

  1. the defendant knowingly enters another's property;
  2. the defendant intends to hide on the property to spy; and
  3. the defendant intends to spy through a window, door, or other opening of a dwelling

There is no requirement that the peeping victim own, lease, or reside on the property. And a person can be convicted of peeping even if it turns out no one is home when the alleged peeper goes on the property.1

Example: Bart waits until it is dark to sneak into his pretty neighbor's backyard so he can look into her bedroom window. When Bart looks into the window, there is no one there. Before Bart can leave the property, a patrolling police officer spots Bart and arrests him for peering.

person looking through blinds
Peering is an intent crime in Nevada.

It does not matter in the above example that Bart did not end up seeing anything. The D.A. can prosecute as long as Bart had the intention to spy.

Note that Bart would not be guilty of peering if he formulated the intent to spy after he entered his neighbor's land. Peeping charges apply only if the suspect entered the premises with the intent to spy.

Example: Bart's dog escapes into his neighbor's backyard. Bart goes into the backyard to retrieve the dog. While there, he notices his neighbor's bedroom light is on. He then hides in the bushes and peeks into her window.

In the above example, Bart did not form the intention to spy until after he was on the neighbor's property. Therefore, he did not violate NRS 200.603. Arguably, he could still be prosecuted for other offenses such as the Nevada crime of trespass or the Nevada crime of stalking.

2. Penalties for peering in Nevada

The punishment for violating NRS 200.603 turns on whether the defendant had a deadly weapon -- such as a gun or knife -- or a recording device:

Nevada peering offense

Penalties

Peering while in possession of a deadly weapon

Category B felony in Nevada:

Peering while in possession of a camera or sound recorder

Gross misdemeanor in Nevada:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

Peering without a camera/recorder and without a deadly weapon

Misdemeanor:

  • up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines2

Note that the D.A. may be willing to lessen peeping charges or drop them completely through negotiating a plea bargain.

3. Defenses to Nevada peering charges

The best "Peeping Tom" defenses turn on the specific circumstances of each individual case. Common defense strategies include:

  1. false accusations,
  2. no intent to spy, or
  3. defendant ownership of the property,

Note that it is not a defense to peering charges that no one else was on the property, or that the defendant did not see anyone else while spying.

3.1. The defendant was falsely accused

Occasionally people levy false allegations against others out of anger or revenge or a simple mistake. If a defendant may have been falsely accused, the defense attorney would thoroughly investigate in an effort to find:

person looking through hole in wall
Some peering suspects are falsely accused.
  • video or eyewitness evidence showing that the defendant never spied, and/or
  • communications (such as text messages) by the accuser that show his/her motive to lie

If the D.A. sees that the accuser is not trustworthy, the case may be dismissed.

3.2. The defendant had no intent to spy

Innocent people may get wrongfully arrested for peering merely because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Happening to catch someone through an open window by chance is no crime as long as the person had no intent to spy when he/she entered the property.3

Prosecutors have the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defense attorney can show that there is insufficient evidence that the defendant intended to peep, NRS 200.603 charges should not stand.

3.3. The property belonged to the defendant

Peeping charges come into play only when the defendant entered another person's property.4 If the defendant owed or lived at the home at the time of the alleged spying, then the D.A. should not press peering charges.

4. Sealing peering cases in Nevada

Peering convictions can usually be sealed from a defendant's criminal record after a predetermined waiting period. The length of the wait depends on the category of crime the defendant was convicted of:

Nevada peering offense

Waiting period to get a record seal

Category B felony (with a deadly weapon)

5 years after the case ends

Gross misdemeanor (with a camera or recorder)

2 years after the case ends

Misdemeanor

1 year after the case ends5

Dismissal (no conviction)

No waiting period6

Learn more about getting Nevada record seals.

5. Immigration consequences for peering

sign that says deportation
Peering with a deadly weapon could be deportable.

Courts may consider peering a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT), especially if it involved a deadly weapon. CIMTs are often deportable.7

Any immigrants and aliens who have been arrested in Nevada should consult with an experienced lawyer. The attorney may be able to get the charges dismissed or at least reduced to non-removable offenses. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

6. Related offenses

6.1. Capturing image of private area of another person

The Nevada crime of capturing the image of another's private area occurs when a person intentionally photographs or takes video of another person's private parts when the victim has a reasonable expectation of privacy. "Private parts" comprise:

  • genitalia or pubic area,
  • buttocks, and/or
  • female breasts

It makes no difference if the private parts are naked or clad with an undergarment.

A first offense is a gross misdemeanor, carrying up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines. A subsequent offense is a category E felony in Nevada, carrying:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

However, a category E felony is often probationable.8

6.2. Stalking

silhouette of woman through keyhole
Stalking can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the case.

The Nevada crime of stalking occurs when someone willfully acts in a way that causes another person to reasonably feel frightened or intimidated. It makes no difference if the stalker had no intention of frightening or intimidating the victim. 

A first offense of stalking is typically a misdemeanor carrying up to six (6) months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. But a subsequent offense is a gross misdemeanor. And aggravated stalking -- which is stalking that involves threatening the victim with death or substantial bodily harm -- is a category B felony carrying:

  • two to fifteen (2 - 15) years in prison, and
  • up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)9

6.3. Trespass

The Nevada crime of trespass is defined as going on -- or refusing to leave -- another person's property without that person's permission. Many Las Vegas trespass cases involve intoxicated casino patrons who allegedly refuse hotel security's requests to exit the premises.

Trespass is a misdemeanor carrying up to six (6) months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.10 If the incident happened at a casino, the casino may ban the person from returning.

Male receptionist waiting for your call.
Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation today.

Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

If you have been accused of "peeping" in Nevada, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys will do everything in an effort to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Contact us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation today.

Go back to our page on Nevada sex crimes.

Arrested in California? See our article on California's "Peeping Tom" Laws Penal Code 647(i) and (j).


Legal References

  1. NRS 200.603 Peering, peeping or spying through window, door or other opening of dwelling of another; penalties.

          1. A person shall not knowingly enter upon the property or premises of another or upon the property or premises owned by him or her and leased or rented to another with the intent to surreptitiously conceal himself or herself on the property or premises and peer, peep or spy through a window, door or other opening of a building or structure that is used as a dwelling on the property or premises.

          2. A person who violates subsection 1 is guilty of:

          (a) If the person is in possession of a deadly weapon at the time of the violation, 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 6 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $5,000.

          (b) If the person is not in possession of a deadly weapon at the time of the violation, but is in possession of a photographic or digital camera, video camera or other device capable of recording images or sound at the time of the violation, a gross misdemeanor.

          (c) If the person is not in possession of a deadly weapon or a photographic or digital camera, video camera or other device capable of recording images or sound at the time of the violation, a misdemeanor.

          3. This section does not apply to:

          (a) A law enforcement officer conducting a criminal investigation or surveillance;

          (b) A building inspector, building official or other similar authority employed by a governmental body while performing his or her duties; or

          (c) An employee of a public utility while performing his or her duties.
  2. Id.
  3. Id.
  4. Id.
  5. NRS 179.245.
  6. NRS 179.255.
  7. 8 U.S.C. § 1227.
  8. NRS 200.604.
  9. NRS 200.575.
  10. NRS 207.200.

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