The Nevada crime of carjacking comprises many related charges such as auto theft, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, battery, murder, and/or attempted murder. A conviction for any one of these carjacking-related offenses may result in Nevada State Prison time.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is carjacking in Nevada?
- 2. Can I go to prison for carjacking?
- 3. How can I fight the charges?
1. What is carjacking in Nevada?
The legal definition of carjacking in Las Vegas, Nevada, is the criminal taking of a motor vehicle from its driver by force, violence, or intimidation.1
Unlike California law, Nevada law does not have a specific carjacking statute. Instead, carjacking is a “cluster” of related crimes. Depending on the circumstances, carjacking suspects face charges for one or more of the following six offenses:
- Grand larceny of a motor vehicle (NRS 205.228): Stealing – or attempting to steal – a motor vehicle.
- Robbery (NRS 200.380): An unlawful taking through the use of force, violence, or intimidation.
- Assault with a deadly weapon (NRS 200.471(2)(b)): Using a deadly weapon such as a gun to place someone in fear of immediate bodily harm.
- Battery (NRS 200.481): An unlawful use of force on a person, such as punching.
- Murder (NRS 200.030): Deliberately killing a person.
- Attempted murder: Trying – and failing – to kill a person.2
And because carjacking is a violation of federal law in addition to state law, suspects also face charges for the federal crime of carjacking in addition to – or instead of – state charges.3
2. Can I go to prison for carjacking in Nevada?
Yes. The length of the entire sentence depends on which crime(s) the defendant gets convicted of.
|Carjacking crime||Nevada penalties|
Second offense (in five years)
|Robbery||Category B felony: |
But if the defendant used tear gas or a deadly weapon, there is an additional sentence of 1 to 15 years. And the judge may not grant a suspended sentence.5
|Assault with a deadly weapon||Category B felony: |
|Battery||Battery can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on whether the defendant caused substantial bodily harm or used a deadly weapon.7|
|Murder||Murder is a category A felony. Depending on the circumstances, the sentence can range from 25 years in prison to life in prison or even the death penalty.8|
|Attempted murder||Category B felony: |
But if the defendant used a deadly weapon – or if the victim was at least 60 years old – the judge may impose an additional sentence of 1 to 20 years.9
And if federal prosecutors press carjacking charges, defendants face the following felony penalties:
- Up to 15 years in Federal Prison and/or a fine if no serious injury or death occurs; or
- Up to 25 years in Federal Prison and/or a fine if serious bodily injury occurs; or
- Life in Federal Prison if the victim dies.10
3. How can I fight the charges?
Each Nevada carjacking case is unique, and the best defenses turn on the specific facts and available evidence. Five potential defenses are:
- The defendant was misidentified out of a lineup. Many carjackings happen at night, and victims may be unable to identify the correct suspect – especially if they are being pressured by impatient police officers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) or Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP).
- The police coerced the defendant’s confession. Police are not allowed to use illegal interrogation techniques to extract confessions.
- The defendant was falsely accused. Perhaps someone wanted to get the defendant in trouble and filed a false police report.
- The defendant was lawfully given the car. Perhaps the car owner misunderstood the situation and wrongly thought the defendant stole it.
- The police conducted an illegal search and seizure. The judge can then disregard any evidence discovered from the unlawful police search.
If you or a loved one is facing charges for the Nevada crime of grand larceny of a motor vehicle, the Nevada crime of robbery, burglary, violent crimes, or other offenses, contact our Las Vegas, NV criminal defense lawyers for legal advice. We fight charges in Las Vegas from Henderson to Summerlin and throughout the state of Nevada.
In California? Read our article on the California crime of carjacking.
- See, for example, Calambro v. State (1995) 111 Nev. 1015, 900 P.2d 340. See, for example, Summers v. State (2006) 122 Nev. 1326, 148 P.3d 778.
- NRS 200.030.
- 18 USC 2119 – The Anti-Car Theft Act of 1992.
- NRS 205.228.
- NRS 200.380. NRS 193.165.
- NRS 200.471(2)(b).
- NRS 200.481.
- NRS 200.030.
- NRS 200.030.
- 18 USC 2119.