"Terrorist Threats" in Nevada Law
(NRS 202.448)

A terrorist threat in Nevada is a threat made with the intent to intimidate, cause panic, extort, or interfere with government infrastructures. It is a prosecuted as a felony carrying up to two (2) decades in Nevada State Prison, and aliens convicted it face deportation

A common defense to terrorist threats charges is that the defendant had no malicious intent. People convicted of terrorist threats have to wait five (5) years after the case ends before pursing a record seal.

In this post-9/11 world, law enforcement takes very seriously any hint of sabotage or violence that could lead to substantial injury or destruction to the general population. Consequently, any word or action people make that police believe may be related to terrorism can subject them to criminal prosecution.

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about terrorist threats in Nevada, including the legal definition, defenses, penalties, record seal time frames, and immigration consequences. Click on a topic to jump to that section:


1. What are "terrorist threats" in Nevada?

Nevada law prohibits issuing "terrorist threats." The legal definition of a "terrorist threat" is any threat concerning an act of terrorism made with the intent to:

  • injure, intimidate or alarm any person, or
  • cause panic or civil unrest, or
  • extort or profit, or
  • interfere with the operations of or cause economic or other damage to any person or any officer, agency, board, bureau, commission, department, division or other unit of federal, state or local government

It does not matter whether the terrorist threat actually resulted in any harm. Merely communicating a threat with the intent to cause injury, panic, profit or destruction qualifies as criminal activity.1 Examples include:

  • calling in a threat to a place of worship
  • sending a threatening letter to city hall
  • texting threats of harm to Planned Parenthood

Note that the Nevada crime of terrorist threats does not encompass making a bogus bomb threat. Both acts are serious felonies, but making terrorist threats carries potentially higher prison terms than making bomb threats.2

Also note that in California law, this offense is commonly called "criminal threats" rather than "terrorist threats."


2. How do I fight charges of "terrorist threats" in Nevada?

Which defenses would be most effective in fighting charges of terrorist threats in Nevada depend on the facts of the case.  Some of the more common strategies a defense attorney may use are:

  • False allegations - Perhaps someone falsely accused the defendant out of revenge, anger or an innocent misunderstanding. Either way, the charges should be dropped as long as the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant made a threat concerning terrorism.
  • Police misconduct - In the heat of the moment police may deviate from protocol and commit unconstitutional acts such as illegal arrests and searches and seizures. In these cases the defense attorney may file a motion to suppress asking the judge to throw out any evidence found from the unlawful police activity. If the judge agrees, the case may be dismissed for lack of proof.
  • Lack of malicious intent - A person is not criminally liable for making a terrorist threat if he/she did not deliberately mean to injure or alarm anyone, cause panic, make a profit or interfere with government operations. If the D.A. cannot show that the defendant's intentions were malicious, the whole case may be thrown out.

3. What are the penalties for "terrorist threats" in Nevada?

Making terrorist threats is prosecuted as a category B felony in Nevada. The punishment may include:

  • two to twenty (2 - 20) years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines

When determining the sentence, judges consider the circumstances surrounding the alleged terrorists threat such as:

  • the defendant's motivation,
  • the nature of the threats, and
  • the extent of the damage done

Depending on the case, D.A.s may try to avoid trial by offering to plea bargain the terrorist threat charges down to less serious offenses such as:

4. Can I get my "terrorist threat" case sealed in Nevada?


A terrorist threat conviction can be sealed in Nevada five (5) years after the case ends. If the charge got dismissed (so the defendant did not get convicted), there is no waiting period to pursue a seal.4

5. Can a "terrorist threat" conviction get me deported?

Yes. Making a terrorist threat is a deportable offense. Non U.S.-citizens who are accused of terrorist threats should hire an attorney to attempt to get the charge dismissed or else switched to a non-removable crime. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

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Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation.

If after reading this you would like a free consultation with our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers, call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). We may be able to negotiate your charges down to a lesser crime or even have it dismissed. And if necessary, we are always ready to fight for you at trial.

To learn about California criminal threats law, go to our informational webpage on California criminal threats law | Penal Code 422 PC.

Legal References:

  1. NRS 202.448.
  2. NRS 202.840.
  3. NRS 202.448.
  4. NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.
  5. 8 U.S.C. § 1227.

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