Nevada "Possession of Stolen Vehicle" Laws (NRS 205.273)
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

Just as it's a crime to steal a car, it's also a crime knowingly to possess a stolen car in Nevada. Penalties include high fines and prison time.  And future employers who see a felony conviction on your record may choose not to hire you.

Our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers have been very successful in resolving stolen car charges.  Often we can get the charges reduced or even dismissed.  And if necessary we will fight for you all the way to trial for a not guilty verdict.

To read more about the Las Vegas crime of possessing or receiving a stolen car, scroll further down.  We explain the definition, possible defenses, and potential penalties.


The legal definition of possession of a stolen vehicle in Las Vegas, NV is, "A person commits an offense involving a stolen vehicle if the person:

(a) With the intent to procure or pass title to a motor vehicle which the person knows or has reason to believe has been stolen, receives or transfers possession of the vehicle from or to another person; or

(b) Has in his or her possession a motor vehicle which the person knows or has reason to believe has been stolen."

In summary, it's a crime to have a stolen car or to pass title to a car that you know (or reasonably should have known) is stolen.  This law also applies to motorcycles and trucks.

Remember, you may be charged for possessing a stolen car in Nevada even if whoever originally stole the car never gets busted.  Read more about the Nevada crime of "grand larceny of a motor vehicle" (auto-theft).

Also, note that possession can be constructive or actual; as long as a person wields control over the car, the person possesses it even if the person is not physically touching the car. Palmer v. State, 112 Nev. 763, 920 P.2d 112 (1996).


Typical defenses to receipt of stolen car charges in Nevada include:

    • You didn't know the car was stolen
      As long as you didn't know (or reasonably should have known) that the car was stolen, you're not liable for possessing a stolen car in Las Vegas.
    • You never possessed the car
      If there was never a point where you possessed or wielded control over the stolen car, then you shouldn't be charged with possessing it.
  • 4th Amendment violations

If the police acted illegally to uncover the car, your attorney may try to file a Nevada motion to suppress evidence.  This explains to the court how the police conducted an illegal search.  If the judge agrees and throws out the evidence of the car, there's a good chance your charges will be dropped for insufficient proof.


The sentence for violating Nevada possession of stolen vehicle law turns on the value of the car:

If the automobile is worth less than $3,500:

The possession or receipt of a stolen car worth less than $3,500 is a category C felony in Las Vegas.  The punishment is:

If the automobile is worth $3,500 or more:

Possessing a stolen car valued at $3,500 or more is a category B felony in Nevada.  The sentence is:

  • restitution, and
  • 1 to 10 years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • up to 10,000 in fines

Immigration consequences

Being a large-scale theft crime, a conviction for possession of a stolen vehicle may be enough to have an immigrant removed from the United States.  It's vital non-citizens retain legal counsel to try to keep them from getting deported.  Learn more about the Nevada criminal defense of aliens.

Charged with a crime?  Phone us . . . .

If after going over this information you'd like to talk about your case, call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).  Our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers might be able to reduce or dismiss your charges where you avoid prison and maybe even a conviction.

Also see our article on Nevada chop shop laws.

 If you want information about the California crime of auto burglary, go to our page on the California crime of "auto burglary."

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