In Nevada, tampering with any car’s odometer is a misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail and/or $1,000. Though if you then sell the vehicle with the intent to defraud someone, you face category C felony charges carrying one to five years in prison and up to $10,000.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is odometer fraud and tampering in Nevada?
- 2. Is it a federal crime, too?
- 3. How do I fight the case?
1. What is odometer fraud and tampering in Nevada?
Under Nevada state law, odometer fraud and tampering occur when you either:
- Disconnect, reset or alter the odometer of any motor vehicle with the intent to change the shown mileage;1
- Change the number of miles on an odometer;
- Advertise, sell or transfer any motor vehicle with a tampered odometer or false mileage in order to intentionally defraud someone; or
- Conspire to do any of the above.
Changing the miles on an odometer is a misdemeanor under Nevada law.2 Punishments include:
- Up to $1,000 in fines, and/or
- Up to 6 months in jail.3
However, knowingly selling a motor vehicle with an altered odometer for the purpose of defrauding someone is a category C felony. Penalties include:
- 1 to 5 years in Nevada State Prison, and/or
- A fine of up to $10,000.4
Changing an odometer in Nevada can also subject you to civil penalties if it harms another person. The person harmed can sue you for:
- The greater of 3 times your actual damages or $2,500, plus
- The other person’s costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.5
2. Is it a federal crime, too?
Yes. Federal odometer tampering laws are enforced by the United States Attorney General in federal district court. However, by law, the Nevada Department of Transportation is also required to enforce the provisions of federal laws against odometer tampering.6
Under federal law, it is a felony to either:
- Advertise, sell, use, install, or have installed, a device that changes the odometer reading of a motor vehicle;
- Disconnect, reset, alter, or have any of the foregoing done to the odometer of a motor vehicle with the intent to change the mileage shown;
- Operate a motor vehicle on a street, road, or highway when you know that the odometer of the vehicle is disconnected or not operating in order to defraud someone; or
- Knowingly transfer ownership of a motor vehicle with an altered odometer or give a false statement to the transferee with respect to an odometer reading.7
Federal penalties for odometer tampering or odometer fraud can include:
- A civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation (to a maximum of $1,000,000 for a related series of violations); and
- Up to 3 years in federal prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.8
You can also be sued for fraud by anyone personally harmed by your actions for an amount equal to:
- The greater of 3 times the person’s actual damages or $10,000; plus
- Such person’s court costs and reasonable attorney’s fee.9
3. How do I fight the case?
Here at Las Vegas Defense Group, we have represented literally thousands of people arrested for vehicle-related charges such as odometer fraud. In our experience, the following four defenses can be very effective with prosecutors, judges, and juries:
- You did not know the odometer was not working properly;
- You were repairing the vehicle and forgot to reconnect the odometer;
- You were not trying to defraud anyone; or
- The evidence was discovered during an illegal search and seizure.
- NRS 484D.310.
- NRS 484D.335 (2).
- NRS 193.150.
- NRS 484D.335(1).
- NRS 484D.340.
- NRS 484D.330.
- 49 U.S. Code 32703 and 32705.
- 49 U.S. Code 32709.
- 49 U.S. Code 32710.