"Using another person's identifying information" (NRS 205.463)
(Explained by Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys)

Intentionally using another person's identifying information to break the law is a felony in Nevada under NRS 205.463. "Identifying information" can include anything from a person's name and birthday to his/her social security number or work card number.

Using another person's personal information in order to escape arrest or prosecution is typically a category C felony in Nevada, carrying up to 5 years in Nevada State Prison. Meanwhile, using another's personal information for any other purpose is a category B felony in Nevada, carrying up to 20 years in prison.

It may be possible to get NRS 205.463 charges reduced or dismissed through a Nevada plea bargain. Common defenses include:

  • the defendant had no intention to break the law;
  • the defendant acted with consent of the other person; or
  • the police found the evidence through an illegal Nevada search and seizure

In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense attorneys discuss all topics related to the Nevada crime of unlawfully using another's personal identifying information, including:

man with mask
Nevada makes it a crime to use another person's identifying information for an unlawful purpose.

1. Using another's ID for illegal purposes in Nevada

NRS 205.463 prohibits intentionally using another person's identifying information in order to either:

  1. harm the other person;
  2. get access to the other person's personal information or nonpublic records;
  3. obtain credit, goods, or services in the other person's name; and/or
  4. carry out any other unlawful purpose

It makes no difference whether the "other person" is real or a made-up, fictional character.

NRS 205.463 also prohibits using another person's identifying information to avoid being prosecuted for breaking the law.1 Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker provides an example:

There is a warrant out for Mike's arrest in Las Vegas for being a prostitute. Mike resembles his friend Jack. Before leaving the house, Mike takes Jack's ID. A police officer recognizes Mike as someone with a warrant and asks for his ID. Mike shows the officer Jack's license to throw the officer off the scent. Since Mike is using the ID to delay being prosecuted (for solicitation of prostitution), Mike could be charged with illegally using Jack's ID.

Therefore, NRS 205.463 is a broad law and comprises any action where one person deliberately uses another person's identifying information for unlawful purposes. The legal definition of "identifying information" is also broad; some examples include a person's:

  • driver's license number
  • passport number
  • birth certificate information
  • professional license numbers
  • insurance policy information (such as medical, dental, eye, homeowners, renters, and automobile)
  • work card number
  • ID number for government services (such as SNAP, disability, or welfare)
  • social security card number
  • credit card information
  • bank account numbers
  • name (current, former, or pseudonym)
  • date of birth
  • workplace information
  • biometric data (such as fingerprints, eye scans, or facial scans)
  • electronic signature
  • PIN numbers2

Note that Nevada judges will presume that defendants had an intent to commit a crime if they possessed at least five (5) people's identifying information. However, these defendants may try to "rebut" this presumption during trial and present evidence that they had no criminal intent:

Therefore, it is possible that defendants with five people's IDs can be acquitted of violating NRS 205.463. But they do have a tougher fight than defendants found with fewer than five people's IDs.3

2. Penalties for illegal use of another's ID in Nevada

passport with mask
Illegally using another's ID is a felony in Nevada.

The punishment for violating NRS 205.463 depends on whether the defendant's intent was to avoid prosecution or to commit another crime.

Note that it may be possible for defendants to get probation instead of prison for NRS 205.463 violations. Certainly, chances for probation are higher if the defendant had a clean criminal record prior to the case.

2.1. Unlawful use of ID to avoid prosecution

Using another person's ID to delay or avoid prosecution is generally prosecuted a category C felony, carrying:

  • one to five (1 - 5) years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $10,000 in fines

But if the case has a specific "aggravating factor" that makes the defendant's actions particularly shocking or harmful, the D.A. will prosecute the case as a category B felony. The enhanced sentence will be:

  • three to twenty (3 - 20) years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $100,000 in fines

These four "aggravating factors" that will cause a sentence enhancement include:

  1. the underlying crime that the defendant was facing charges for is a category A felony in Nevada (the most serious class of Nevada crime;)
  2. the ID belonged to a disabled ("vulnerable") person or a person at least age 60;
  3. the defendant obtained and used the ID of at least five (5) people; or
  4. the defendant's actions caused another person to suffer a financial loss or injury of at least $3,000

2.2. Unlawful use of ID for all other purposes (identity theft)

Meanwhile, using another person's ID for any unlawful purposes other than avoiding prosecution is charged as a category B felony, carrying:

  • one to twenty (1 - 20) years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $100,000 in fines

But if the case has a specific "aggravating factor" that makes the defendant's actions particularly shocking or harmful, the minimum prison sentence is enhanced from just one (1) year to three (3) years.

The three "aggravating factors" that will cause a sentence enhancement include:

  1. the ID belonged to a disabled ("vulnerable") person or a person at least age 60;
  2. the defendant obtained and used the ID of at least five (5) people; or
  3. the defendant's actions caused another person to suffer a financial loss or injury of at least $3,000

Finally, the defendant will have to make Nevada restitution payments to cover the costs of repairing the victim's credit history or satisfying any debts or liens the defendant caused (if any).4

3. Fighting charges of unlawful ID use in Nevada

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There are several possible defenses to criminal charges involving wrongful use of an ID.

The most effective way to fight NRS 205.463 charges will depend on the specific facts of the case and the available evidence. Some common defenses include the following:

  1. the defendant had no criminal intent;
  2. the victim gave consent; or
  3. the police search was illegal

3.1. The defendant had no criminal intent

The defendant in an NRS 205.463 case needs to intend to commit an unlawful act in order to be guilty. If the defense attorney can show that the defendant's actions were an innocent accident, then the charge should be dropped:

Example: Elena and her roommate are both 21. Before leaving for the bar, Elena rifles through a drawer and accidentally pulls out her roommate's ID instead of her own. Not realizing her mistake, Elena uses the roommate's ID to get into a bar and buy alcohol. In this situation, Elena would probably not face criminal charges because she had no intent to commit a crime. She obtained her roommate's ID by accident, and Elena was old enough on her own to go into the bar and buy alcohol.

Intent can be difficult for the D.A. to prove because it goes to the defendant's state of mind. Therefore, prosecutors are often forced to rely on "circumstantial evidence" instead of direct proof. As long as the D.A. fails to demonstrate guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the charges should be dismissed.5

3.2. The victim gave the consent

It is not a crime to use another person's identifying information with that person's consent as long as it is for a lawful purpose.6 For example:

Example: Tom needs a pair of sneakers delivered quickly. Tom gets his friend's permission to use his Amazon Prime account in order to get free two-day delivery. Tom uses his friend's account, but he uses his own credit card to pay for the sneakers. Here, Tom did nothing criminal because his friend gave prior consent to use his account, and Tom's actions did nothing to harm the friend or any other person. 

As long as the defendant gets prior consent to use a person's ID -- and the ID is used for an otherwise legal purpose -- then no crime is committed.

3.3. The police performed an illegal search

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An illegal police search may be enough to get an entire criminal case dropped.

Nevada police are required to work within the bounds of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment when searching for evidence. This includes getting a valid warrant prior to conducting a search, or having a lawful reason to forego getting a warrant prior to the search:

For example if a police officer sees a suspect in a coffee shop with another person's ID out on the table, the police officer probably would not need a Nevada search warrant to inspect the ID because it is out in "plain view." But the officer would be in violation of the law if the officer conducted a warrantless search of the suspect's backpack because the backpack's contents are not in plain view.7

If the defense attorney believes that the police illegally obtained any evidence, the attorney can ask the judge to disregard the evidence. The legal term for this is to file a motion to suppress in Nevada. If the judge grants the motion and throws out the illegally-seized evidence, the D.A. may very well be left with too little evidence to continue prosecuting the case.

4. Deportation for unlawful ID use in Nevada

The law is not clear as to whether an NRS 205.463 violation qualifies as a crime involving moral turpitude or an aggravated felony. Either way, any non-citizen facing criminal charges should retain an attorney as soon as possible to try to get the charges dismissed or reduced to an offense that is definitely non-deportable. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

5. Sealing records for unlawful ID use in Nevada

Defendants convicted of violating NRS 205.463 must wait at least five (5) years after the case ends before pursuing a record seal.

If the defense attorney persuades the D.A. to reduce the charge to a Nevada misdemeanor, then the waiting period becomes only one (1) year after the case ends.8

Note that if the D.A. agrees to dismiss the charges completely -- or if the defendant gets acquitted at trial -- then there is no waiting period to apply for a record seal.9

The record seal process takes several months and can be extremely painstaking. Learn more about getting Nevada criminal records sealed.

6. Related offenses

6.1. False impersonation (NRS 205.450)

The Nevada crime of false impersonation occurs when someone falsely represents him/herself as another living or dead person in any of the following circumstances:

  • getting married
  • transacting real estate
  • confessing to a crime or civil judgment
  • acting as bail or surety in a legal proceeding
  • doing anything during a lawsuit or proceeding that jeopardizes another's financial interests
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False impersonation is a category C felony in Nevada.

It is a category C felony, carrying:

  • one to five (1 - 5) years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $10,000 in fines

6.2. Impersonation of a public officer (NRS 199.430)

The Nevada crime of impersonation of a public officer prohibits people from holding themselves out as a public office (such as a police officer) to defraud or injure another person. It is prosecuted as a gross misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying:

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

6.3. Possessing false identification to establish a fake identity (NRS 205.465)

Nevada forbids people from possessing a fake ID in order pass themselves off as a fictional person. This offense is generally prosecuted as a category E felony in Nevada. A first-time offense is usually probationable with a maximum penalty of:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $5,000 in fines

But if the defendant's purpose was to commit the Nevada crime of forgery, online fraud, or the Nevada crime of credit/debit card fraud, then possessing a false ID becomes a category C felony. The sentence carries:

  • one to five (1 - 5) years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $10,000 in fines

Learn more in our article on Nevada fake ID laws.

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Are you suspected of using another person's identifying information in Nevada? Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). Our experienced attorneys can speak with you for FREE about how we may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed through aggressive negotiation and litigation.

Arrested in California? See our article on the unlawful use of ID cards in California | Vehicle Code 13004 VC.

Arrested in Colorado? See our article on Colorado identity theft laws | Colorado 18-5-902 C.R.S.


Legal References

  • NRS 205.463  Obtaining and using personal identifying information of another person to harm or impersonate person, to obtain certain nonpublic records or for other unlawful purpose; penalties; rebuttable inference that possessor of personal identifying information intended to unlawfully use such information.

          1.  Except as otherwise provided in subsections 2 and 3, a person who knowingly:

          (a) Obtains any personal identifying information of another person; and

          (b) With the intent to commit an unlawful act, uses the personal identifying information:

                 (1) To harm that other person;

                 (2) To represent or impersonate that other person to obtain access to any personal identifying information of that other person without the prior express consent of that other person;

                 (3) To obtain access to any nonpublic record of the actions taken, communications made or received by, or other activities or transactions of that other person without the prior express consent of that other person; or

                 (4) For any other unlawful purpose, including, without limitation, to obtain credit, a good, a service or anything of value in the name of that other person,

    --> is guilty of 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 20 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $100,000.

          2.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection 3, a person who knowingly:

          (a) Obtains any personal identifying information of another person; and

          (b) Uses the personal identifying information to avoid or delay being prosecuted for an unlawful act,

    --> is guilty of a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

          3.  A person who violates:

          (a) Subsection 1 or 2 by obtaining and using the personal identifying information of an older person or a vulnerable person;

          (b) Subsection 1 or 2 by obtaining and using the personal identifying information of five or more persons;

          (c) Subsection 1 or 2 by causing another person to suffer a financial loss or injury of $3,000 or more as a result of the violation; or

          (d) Subsection 2 to avoid or delay being prosecuted for an unlawful act that is punishable as a category A felony or category B felony,

    --> is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 3 years and a maximum term of not more than 20 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $100,000.

          4.  In addition to any other penalty, the court shall order a person convicted of violating subsection 1 to pay restitution, including, without limitation, any attorney's fees and costs incurred to:

          (a) Repair the credit history or rating of the person whose personal identifying information the convicted person obtained and used in violation of subsection 1; and

          (b) Satisfy a debt, lien or other obligation incurred by the person whose personal identifying information the convicted person obtained and used in violation of subsection 1.

          5.  Proof of possession of the personal identifying information of five or more persons in a manner not set forth in NRS 205.4655 permits a rebuttable inference that the possessor intended to use such information in violation of this section.
  • NRS 205.4617(2). “Personal identifying information” defined.

          1.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, “personal identifying information” means any information designed, commonly used or capable of being used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to identify a living or deceased person or to identify the actions taken, communications made or received by, or other activities or transactions of a living or deceased person, including, without limitation:

          (a) The current or former name, driver's license number, identification card number, social security number, checking account number, savings account number, credit card number, debit card number, financial services account number, date of birth, place of employment and maiden name of the mother of a person.

          (b) The unique biometric data of a person, including, without limitation, the fingerprints, facial scan identifiers, voiceprint, retina image and iris image of a person.

          (c) The electronic signature, unique electronic identification number, address or routing code, telecommunication identifying information or access device of a person.

          (d) The personal identification number or password of a person.

          (e) The alien registration number, government passport number, employer identification number, taxpayer identification number, Medicaid account number, food stamp account number, medical identification number or health insurance identification number of a person.

          (f) The number of any professional, occupational, recreational or governmental license, certificate, permit or membership of a person.

          (g) The number, code or other identifying information of a person who receives medical treatment as part of a confidential clinical trial or study, who participates in a confidential clinical trial or study involving the use of prescription drugs or who participates in any other confidential medical, psychological or behavioral experiment, study or trial.

          (h) The utility account number of a person.

          2.  To the extent that any information listed in subsection 1 is designed, commonly used or capable of being used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to identify an artificial person, “personal identifying information” includes information pertaining to an artificial person.

  • NRS 205.463.
  • Id.
  • Jezdik v. State, 121 Nev. 129, 110 P.3d 1058 (2005) (In this case, receipts and billing statements comprised sufficient circumstantial evidence to convict the defendant of unlawful use of another's identifying information.).
  • NRS 205.463.
  • Woerner v. State, 85 Nev. 281, 453 P.2d 1004 (1969)("It has long been settled that objects falling in the plain view of an officer who has a right to be in the position to have that view are subject to seizure and may be introduced in evidence. Ker v. California, 374 U.S. 23, 42-43 (1963); United States v. Lee, 274 U.S. 559 (1927); Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57 (1924).").
  • NRS 179.245.
  • NRS 179.255.

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