Maintaining or contributing to a public nuisance is punished as a misdemeanor in Nevada.
A public nuisance is an offense where the "victim" is not a particular individual but the community as a whole. Penalties in Nevada include fines and even jail. But a skilled Las Vegas criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate the charge down to a dismissal so the case gets dropped completely.
This article explains the Nevada offense of public nuisances. Keep reading to learn more about the definition of public nuisances, common defenses, and the possible penalties in Las Vegas.
The legal definition of a "public nuisance" in Las Vegas, Nevada, is a "crime against the order and economy of the state." In other words, a public nuisance is any business or activity which compromises the laws, regulations, or peace of the community as a whole.
Examples of public nuisances
Specifically, a public nuisance comprises any of the following businesses in Nevada:
- a place where unlicensed gambling, bookmaking, or pool selling is conducted
- a place where animal or bird fighting is conducted or where dog races are conducted for gambling (read more about the Nevada crime of dog racing as a gaming activity)
- a place where alcohol or drugs are unlawfully stored, made or served
- a place regularly used by criminal gangs or where vagrants resort
- a house of prostitution that's not a licensed brothel (read more about the Nevada crime of solicitation of prostitution)
- a shooting range that's noncompliant with applicable statutes and ordinances
- a farm that's in violation of state, local or federal regulations
Alternatively, it's also considered a public nuisance in Nevada to engage in any of the following activities:
- annoying, injuring or endangering the safety health, comfort or repose of any considerable number of people
- offending public decency
- unlawfully interfering with a passage, lake, river, bay, stream, canal, ditch, millrace, basin, public park, square, street, alley, bridge, causeway or highway
- compromising the security of a considerable number of people
Public Nuisances as a Crime
It's a crime in Nevada to create or maintain a public nuisance. Likewise, willfully refusing to perform a legal duty to remove a public nuisance is illegal in Las Vegas. Even permitting someone else to use a building or boat with the knowledge they'd be used to commit a public nuisance is also prosecutable.
Note that it's irrelevant whether the alleged public nuisance actually causes any damage. The Clark County District Attorney may press public nuisance charges under NRS 202.450 based solely on the defendant's behavior, not whether someone sustained an injury because of it.
Nevada public nuisance law is extremely broad . . . and therefore extremely vague. This may work in the defendant's favor because it allows for several different and creative strategies to fight the allegations. The most common one is insufficient evidence:
Defendants can't be convicted of a crime unless the Las Vegas Court finds them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That's a very tough burden of proof for the D.A. to accomplish because what constitutes a public nuisance is highly subjective. As long as the defense attorney can show that the D.A.'s evidence is too inadequate to support a guilty verdict, the case should be thrown out.
The Las Vegas offense of public nuisances under NRS 202.450 is sentenced as a misdemeanor in Nevada. The punishment for a misdemeanor in Nevada carries:
- up to 6 months in Clark County Detention Center (or another county jail) and/or up to $1,000 in fines; and
- maybe a civil penalty between $500 and $5,000
In addition, the court may order the defendant to abate (remove) the nuisance. The defendant then has only three (3) days to begin the abetment process. Otherwise, the applicable government agency may abate the nuisance itself at the defendant's expense.
A defendant who's convicted for a public nuisance violation in Nevada has to wait another year before petitioning the court to seal the record. However, if the defense attorney is successful in getting the charge dismissed, then the defendant may petition to seal the record at once. Read more about sealing Nevada criminal records.
Arrested? Call . . . .
If you've been accused of a public nuisance violation in Nevada under NRS 202.450, Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) can consult with you free of charge. They may be able to negotiate a dismissal so your record remains clean. Otherwise, they'll litigate the case to trial and fight zealously for a not guilty verdict.
Also see our article on failure to register a drone.