It's illegal in Nevada for people to gather together with the intent to commit a crime even if the crime never gets committed. Penalties include fines and possible jail. And a conviction mars the defendant's criminal record and reduces his/her chances of securing employment.
This article summarizes the Nevada offense of unlawful assembly. Scroll down further to learn the law, defenses, and penalties in Las Vegas.
The legal definition of "unlawful assembly" in Las Vegas, Nevada, is when "two or more people assemble together to do an unlawful act and then separate without doing it or advancing towards it." In other words, an unlawful assembly is when people gather for the purpose of breaking the law but then disassemble without having committed the intended crime.
An example of an NRS 203.060 violation is protesters congregating at the Las Vegas Courthouse intending to vandalize it but leaving without having done so because they spotted police watching them. Typical evidence that prosecutors may try to admit in these types of cases includes eyewitnesses, surveillance recordings, and email and phone communications of the alleged participants.
Prosecutors rarely press charges for unlawful assembly in Nevada because it's difficult for them to prove that the participants meant to commit a crime. But whenever the D.A. does levy unlawful assembly allegations, a defense attorney may consider using the following defenses:
- No Assembly: NRS 203.060 only applies when two or more people assemble together to commit a crime. If a defense attorney can show that only one person had any such intent, then unlawful assembly charges cannot stand.
- No intent to commit a crime: It's perfectly legal for people to assemble in various public and private places as long as the people don't intend to break the law. So if a defense attorney can make a convincing argument that the defendants assembled for lawful purposes only, then they shouldn't be held liable for unlawful assembly.
- Lack of evidence: The advantage defendants have in criminal cases is that they may not be convicted unless the judge or jury believes that they were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That's an extremely high burden of proof that prosecutors often have trouble meeting in unlawful assembly cases. This is because a key element of unlawful assembly–the intent to commit an illegal act–is hard for prosecutors to establish because intent is so abstract. So as long as the defense attorney can demonstrate that the state's evidence is insufficient to support a finding of guilt, the case should be dropped.
The Las Vegas offense of unlawful assembly is sentenced as a misdemeanor in Nevada. The punishment for a misdemeanor in Nevada is:
- up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- up to $1,000 in fines
If the defendant gets convicted, then he/she would have to wait another year before the court is permitted to seal the criminal record. But if the defense attorney gets the case dismissed or wins an acquittal at trial, then the defendant is allowed to petition to seal the record right away. Read more about sealing Nevada criminal records.
Arrested? Call . . . .
If you've been accused of unlawful assembly under NRS 203.060, Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) are happy to meet with you for a free consultation. They might be able to negotiate a full dismissal so your record stays clean. Otherwise, they're prepared to fight at trial for a not guilty verdict.
If you face charges in California, please visit our page on Unlawful Assembly laws in California (Penal Code 407 & 408 PC).