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Pickpocketing in Las Vegas – What is the penalty if I get caught?
Also called larceny from a person, pick-pocketing (NRS 205.270) is always a category C felony under Nevada law – even for a first time offense. Defendants face a sentence of 1 to 5 years in prison, possibly up to $10,000 in fines, and restitution of the items or cash stolen. And if the pickpocketing victim had an infirmity – such as being in a scooter for medical reasons or old age – the court may not grant probation instead of incarceration.
Below our attorneys answer top questions about larceny from a person in Nevada:
How is pick-pocketing different from robbery?
Larceny from a person is a less serious theft crime than robbery (NRS 200.380), which requires taking by means of threats or force. With pick-pocketing, the thief typically snatches the items without the victim knowing until later.
And whereas pick-pocketing is a category C felony, robbery is a category B felony. The sentence is 2 to 15 years in prison, but this can double if the defendant was armed.
How is pick-pocketing different from larceny?
Larceny is wrongfully taking other people’s property without touching anyone. The most common example is shoplifting. In contrast, pick-pocketing requires the thief to take items from the person of another. This comprises taking cash, credit cards, or other items from not only the victim’s front pockets or back pockets but also any purses, knapsacks, and bags the victim is carrying.
And whereas pick-pocketing is always a category C felony, the penalties for larceny depend on the value of the items stolen. Petit larceny (NRS 205.240) – a misdemeanor – is theft of less than $1,200. Meanwhile, grand larceny (NRS 205.220) – a felony – is theft of $1,200 or more.
Is pick-pocketing prevalent in Las Vegas, NV?
Sightseeing tourists on popular tours and day trips are an easy target for would-be thieves, especially in crowded areas like downtown, Fremont Street, the Strip, and on public transport like the monorail. These thefts are not limited to the outdoors – they occur in hotels as well, from high end locales like Bellagio and Encore to more modest destinations like Luxor to Bally’s. Metro police officers have witnessed pick-pocketing everywhere from slot machines to the breakfast buffet. And they occur all the time, from slow weekday mornings to busy holidays like Memorial Day Weekend or New Year’s Eve.
Although with fewer people out and about due to COVID-19, cases have probably declined. And tourists may be able to reduce the risk of pick-pocketing by getting a car rental or using Uber or Lyft instead of walking in public. Tourists may also consider locking their valuables in the safes that come included with most hotel bedroom suites.
How do I fight pick-pocketing charges?
Four common arguments that criminal defense attorneys use to fight NRS 205.270 charges are:
The defendant owned the property. People cannot steal what already belongs solely to them.
The defendant was falsely accused. Perhaps someone was trying to get the defendant in trouble.
The defendant had consent to take the property. People cannot steal property that is given to them.
The defendant believed he/she had consent to take the property. Perhaps there was a genuine misunderstanding. This may happen if the victim was a resident of another country, there was a language barrier, and there were no speakers of English and of the victim’s language to translate.
Call our law firm for help and a free consultation. Our criminal defense lawyers defend people from all over the United States facing charges in Nevada.
About the Author
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.