Las Vegas judges punish crimes more harshly if a deadly weapon is involved. On this page, our Nevada firearms offense attorneys explain how using a deadly weapon such as a gun in furtherance of a criminal offense may increase the final sentence.
If someone is convicted of a crime in Las Vegas, the prison sentence will always be longer if the suspect allegedly used a deadly weapon such as a firearm or even tear gas to carry out the crime.1 However, the judge will NOT increase the prison sentence if the use of a weapon is a necessary element of the crime itself:
Example: Jim pushes John with a rifle, thereby committing the Nevada crime of battery (NRS 200.481). Meanwhile, Tom slips a pistol to an inmate during a prison visit, thereby committing the Nevada crime of furnishing a prisoner with a weapon.
Here, Jim will receive the enhanced criminal sentencing for "using a firearm in commission of a crime" because battery in Nevada does not require weapons: Jim could have committed battery against John just by punching him. Tom, on the other hand, will not receive the enhanced sentencing because his crime-giving a prisoner a deadly weapon-specifically concerns deadly weapons.
Furthermore, sentencing may only be enhanced if the suspect used the deadly weapon in conscious furtherance of the crime:
Example: Mike assaults Sam by pretending to punch him. Meanwhile, Mike has a pistol hidden in his backpack that Sam doesn't know about. Here, Mike would not receive the enhanced sentencing because the pistol played no part whatsoever in his commission of the assault.
With regard to firearms, just brandishing them or using them to scare people would be enough for the judge to increase sentencing-they do not actually have to be fired.2 Had Mike in the above example assaulted Sam by waving his pistol at him, the judge would increase his sentence because the pistol-waving was in furtherance of his assault.
(Note that self-defense is probably not a defense to using a firearm in the commission of a crime in most circumstances.)
If a Nevada court determines that a firearm (or any other deadly weapon) was used during the commission of a crime, the judge will increase the sentence by one to twenty (1 - 20) years. However, the enhanced sentence for the use of a deadly weapon may not exceed the sentence for the underlying crime:
Example: A judge sentences Jim to one year for battery with the use of a deadly weapon in North Las Vegas. Here, the judge can increase the sentence by at most one more year in North Las Vegas Jail because the underlying battery sentence is for only one year.
In determining the exact length of the enhanced sentence for using a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime in Nevada, the judge considers the following factors:
- the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged crime
- the defendant's criminal history
- what impact the incident had the victim
- any mitigating factors regarding the defendant (such as mental disabilities, etc.)
- and anything else that's relevant
Note that the enhanced sentence will run consecutively, NOT concurrently, with the sentence for the original crime:
Example: A judge sentences Jim to a year for battery in Henderson and to another year for using a rifle to carry out that battery. Here, Jim will serve two years total in Henderson Jail: One for the battery and one for the enhancement for use of a deadly weapon in commission of the battery.
And if you are an immigrant, being convicted of a crime involving a firearm may get you deported. Learn more about deportable crimes in Nevada.
If you are facing Nevada charges for a crime involving firearms, our Nevada firearms offense attorneys are here to help you. Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. Our goal is to get your case dismissed or plead it down to a lesser charge, but we are always ready to go to trial for you to.
Also see our article about the federal crime of using guns to carry out drug trafficking or violent crimes (18 U.S.C. § 924(c)).
2But this "conscious furtherance" requirement is why this sentencing enhancement is never applied to the Nevada offense of involuntary manslaughter. Buschauer v. State, 106 Nev. 890, 804 P.2d 1046 (1990).