Shoplifting laws in Nevada

Updated

Shoplifting in Nevada is intentionally stealing items from a store. The legal name for shoplifting is larceny. It is also called retain theft.

Taking less than $650 worth of items is petty larceny (NRS 205.240). Taking $650 or more is grand larceny (NRS 205.220).

Penalties

Petty larceny is a misdemeanor in Nevada. It carries a maximum of six months in jail and $1,000 in fines plus restitution. However, judges rarely impose jail for a first-time offense.

Grand larceny is a felony. It carries a maximum of 10 years in Nevada State Prison and $10,000 in fines plus restitution. But it may be possible to get the charge reduced or dismissed.

Defenses

Four of the most common defenses to fight shoplifting charges include:

  1. The defendant had no intent to steal;
  2. No stealing occurred;
  3. The defendant was misidentified; or
  4. The police found the items through an illegal search

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:

Woman stealing jeans
Shoplifting can be a misdemeanor or a felony in Nevada.

1. What is the legal definition of shoplifting in Nevada?

The legal definition of shoplifting is when someone "intentionally steals, takes or carries away" store property.1

Shoplifting typically occurs when a person in a store slips a piece of merchandise in their pocket, bag, or under their arm. And then they try to leave the premises unnoticed.

If store employees catch the suspected thief, they can lawfully detain the suspect for a reasonable period of time until the police show up. This is called the "shopkeeper's privilege."2

2. What are the penalties?

The sentence for shoplifting depends on the value of the goods stolen:

Shoplifting

Nevada penalties

Less than $650

Petty larceny

Misdemeanor:

  • Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • Up to $1,000 in fines, and
  • Restitution

For first-time offenses, some judges agree to dismiss the case. The defendant would just need to pay a fine, restitution, and attend petty larceny school. This is an online class.3

$650 to less than $3,500

Grand larceny

Category C felony:

  • 1 – 5 years in prison, and
  • Up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion), and
  • Restitution

$3,500 or more

Grand larceny

Category B felony:

  • 1 – 10 years in prison, and
  • Up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion), and
  • Restitution4

3. What are common defenses?

Any of the following four arguments could be sufficient to get a shoplifting charge dismissed in Nevada:

  1. The defendant did not intend to steal. Sometimes store patrons get distracted and innocently leave the premises after forgetting to pay. Or maybe another person planted the stolen merchandise on the defendant without his/her knowledge. As long as the defendant did not intend to steal, no crime occurred.
  2. No shoplifting happened. Perhaps the shopkeeper agreed to let the defendant pay at a later time. Or maybe the defendant did pay, and the shopkeeper's records are wrong. In these cases, such evidence as receipts, promissory notes, eyewitness testimony, and video footage may help demonstrate that nothing was wrongfully taken.
  3. Mistaken identity. Perhaps in the heat of the moment, the store owner attributed the theft to the wrong person. If the defense attorney can raise a reasonable doubt about the suspect's identity, then the charges should be dropped.
  4. The police conducted an illegal search. Law enforcement requires probable cause in order to search. If the allegedly stolen merchandise was found through an unlawful search, then the judge may disregard it as evidence. That may leave the D.A. with too weak a case to continue prosecuting.

4. Are there immigration consequences?

Petty larceny is usually not deportable. But grand larceny is.5 Therefore, non-citizens facing grand larceny charges should seek legal counsel right away. Getting the charge dismissed or reduced to a non-deportable offense may be the only way to stay in the U.S.

5. Can the record be sealed?

Shoplifting convictions are sealable after a predetermined time period. And if the case gets dismissed, there is no waiting period at all to petition for a seal:

Nevada shoplifting conviction

Waiting period to get a record seal

Petty larceny

1 year after the case ends

Grand larceny

5 years after the case ends5

Dismissal (no conviction)

Right away7

The record seal process itself takes several weeks or months. But it is highly recommended. Employers are far more likely to hire people without larceny cases on their background checks. 

Learn how to get a Nevada criminal record seal.

6. Is shoplifting like burglary?

Retail theft is a separate offense from burglary (NRS 205.060). Burglary is the act of entering a building or vehicle with the intent to commit any of the following crimes inside:

  1. Larceny (including shoplifting);
  2. Assault (NRS 200.471);
  3. Battery (NRS 200.481);
  4. Any felony; or
  5. Obtaining money or property by false pretenses (NRS 205.380)

Therefore, a person could face burglary charges even if he/she never commits a crime while inside the vehicle or structure. All that matters is the person's intent while going inside.

Burglary is always a category B felony. It carries:

  • 1 - 10 years in prison (or 2 - 15 years if the suspect had a deadly weapon), and
  • Up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)8
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Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys. 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). We offer FREE consultations.

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Arrested for shoplifting in Nevada? Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys will fight to get the charge reduced or dismissed.

Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). Or fill out the form on this page. Consultations are free.

¿Habla español? Obtener información acerca de las leyes de hurto en tiendas Nevada.

In California? Learn about shoplifting laws (459.5 PC).

In Colorado? Learn about shoplifting by concealment (18-4-406 C.R.S.).


Legal References

  1. NRS 205.240; NRS 205.220.
  2. NRS 597.850.
  3. NRS 205.240.
  4. NRS 205.222.
  5. 8 USC 1227.
  6. NRS 179.245.
  7. NRS 179.255.
  8. NRS 205.060; see Sheriff, Clark County v. Stevens, 97 Nev. 316, 630 P.2d 256 (1981). 

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