Updated July 1, 2020
Currently, Las Vegas Police are seriously cracking down on the prostitution-related theft crime known as “trick-rolling.” A trick-roll is when a sex-worker commits robbery or larceny on a client or potential client irrespective of whether any sex takes place.
Penalties for stealing in Nevada can be very steep. In addition, employers are hesitant to hire anybody with a criminal conviction on his/her background check Scroll down to learn more about the Las Vegas crime of trick-rolling including possible defenses and potential penalties.
Trick-rolling is slang for when a prostitute allegedly steals money from a “john.” The classic trick-roll scenario in Nevada occurs in hotel rooms while the alleged customer is sleeping, taking a shower, or is intoxicated from alcohol or drugs.
If the theft allegedly transpires without the prostitute using force or violence, it’s considered the Nevada crime of larceny from a person (NRS 295.270). Otherwise, the trick-roll qualifies as the more serious Nevada crime of robbery (NRS 200.380). Reno criminal defense attorney Michael Becker gives an example:
A female prostitute solicits John in the Green Valley Ranch, and they go up to a room together. Once inside, she pushes John against the wall and takes his wallet and leaves. If caught, the prostitute may be booked at the Henderson NV Jail for the Nevada crime of robbery because she used force to the take wallet.
In other situations, the prostitute may slip the customer a mickey. This usually happens before any sexual activity can take place. And while the john is unconscious, the prostitute can steal from him and run away before he wakes up.
Note that many trick-rolling crimes go unreported. Often customers do not want to admit to the police that they were with a prostitute because this would be admitting they were breaking the law themselves. Customers also want to avoid having their significant others find out about the situation.
Learn more about Nevada theft crimes.
Merely being accused of theft in Nevada does not necessarily mean that the defendant will be convicted as well. The following are some strategies a defense attorney may consider using when negotiating with the D.A. to try to get trick-rolling charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense:
- No intent. Larceny and robbery are specific intent crimes Therefore if a defense attorney can show that the defendant didn’t deliberately take the property in question, then he/she can’t be convicted of theft.
- The property belonged to the defendant. A defendant can’t be convicted of stealing his/her own property. However, the defendant may face separate charges such as battery in Nevada if the defendant used physical violence to get his/her property back.
- Insufficient evidence. The prosecutor has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant stole. As long as the defense attorney can show that the state’s evidence is insufficient to support a theft charge, the case should be dropped.
- Consent. If the defense attorney can demonstrate that any money that exchanged hands wasn’t stolen and instead was a fee for a sex act, then the trick-rolling theft charges should be dismissed. However, prosecutors would still be able to pursue a case for the Nevada crime of solicitation of prostitution.
As a type of theft, trick-rolling carries very harsh punishments. If the prosecutors believe force or violence was used in the alleged stealing, they will bring charges for the Nevada crime of robbery, which is a category B felony in Nevada. The sentence includes:
- 2 – 15 years in Nevada State Prison
But if the theft allegedly occurred without force or violence (like “pick-pocketing”), then the D.A. may bring charges for the Nevada crime of larceny from a person. It is a category C felony in Las Vegas carrying:
- restitution in Nevada of the items allegedly stolen, and
- 1 to 5 years in Nevada State Prison and
- maybe up to $10,000 in fines
Related crimes & plea bargains
Anyone arrested on suspicion of trick-rolling may also face related charges for the Nevada crime of trespass and/or solicitation of prostitution. These offenses are both punished as misdemeanors in Nevada with a standard sentence of:
- up to $1,000 in fines, and/or
- up to 6 months in jail such as the Clark County Detention Center or the Washoe County Detention Center
Depending on the situation, a defense attorney may be able to negotiate with prosecutors to reduce a Nevada theft charge to trespass as long as full restitution is made. Trespass doesn’t look as bad on a criminal record as larceny or robbery, and it can usually be sealed after only one year. Learn more about sealing criminal records in Nevada.
To learn about California theft crimes, read our article on California theft crimes.