NRS 179D.550 is the Nevada law that penalizes convicted sex offenders for not registering with the Sex Offender Registry. It makes no difference if you simply forgot to register, or intentionally decided not to do so.
The statute states:
[A]n offender or sex offender who:
(a) Fails to register with a local law enforcement agency;
(b) Fails to notify the local law enforcement agency of a change of name, residence, employment or student status…;
(c) Provides false or misleading information to the Central Repository or a local law enforcement agency…
–> is guilty of a category D felony [in Nevada]…
For a first-time offense of failing to register as a sex offender, the judge may grant probation. Otherwise, possible penalties include:
- 1 – 4 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge’s discretion)
Neglecting to register more than once in seven (7) years carries mandatory prison time.
Common defenses to charges of NRS 179D.550 violations include:
- There was no registration requirement,
- The government made a clerical error,
- You were the victim of false allegations, and/or
- You were too incapacitated to comply
As long as the prosecution has insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the charges should not be sustained.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. Who has to register as a sex offender?
- 2. How do I register as a sex offender in Nevada?
- 3. What are the penalties for failing to register under NRS 179D.550?
- 4. What happens to my driver’s license?
- 5. How do I fight charges for failing to register?
- 6. Can my record be sealed?
- 7. What are the immigration consequences?
- 8. How long do I have to register as a sex offender in Nevada?
1. Who has to register as a sex offender?
You are required to register as a sex offender in Nevada if you have been convicted of any of the following crimes:
- indecent exposure (NRS 201.220)
- open or gross lewdness (NRS 201.210)
- first-degree murder (NRS 200.030), committed in the perpetration of sexual abuse of a child under 14
- sexual assault / rape (NRS 200.366)
- statutory sexual seduction / statutory rape (NRS 200.368)
- battery with intent to commit rape (NRS 200.400)
- administering a drug with intent to commit a sex felony (NRS 200.405)
- child sex abuse
- using a minor to produce pornography (NRS 200.710)
- promotion of sexual performance of a minor (NRS 200.720)
- advertising or distributing child pornography (NRS 200.725)
- using the internet to control a visual depiction of child pornography (NRS 200.727)
- possessing child pornography (NRS 200.730)
- incest (NRS 201.180)
- lewdness with a child (NRS 201.230)
- sexual penetration of a corpse (NRS 201.450)
- sexual conduct between secondary school teachers and students (NRS 201.540)
- sexual conduct between college teachers and students (NRS 201.550)
- luring a child or a person with mental illness (as a felony) (NRS 201.560)
- sex trafficking (NRS 201.300)
- any other sex act or sexually-motivated crime1
Being a registered sex offender carries a social stigma and can diminish your employment and housing prospects. Therefore, it is very important for you to hire experienced counsel to try to get your charges dismissed or reduced to a non-sex offense.
1.1. Duties to register as a sex offender in Nevada
As a convicted sex offender in Nevada, you have the duty to register and keep the state informed about your whereabouts. Specifically, you are required to do the following six things:
- Register with a local law enforcement agency within 48 hours of getting convicted (or getting released from custody following conviction);
- Notify local law enforcement within 48 hours of any change of name, residence, address, employment, or student status;
- Notify local law enforcement if you are remaining in a jurisdiction for longer than 30 days after initially reporting a stay of fewer than 30 days;
- Complete an annual verification form;
- Not provide false or misleading information to the Nevada Central Repository or a local law enforcement agency; and
- Appear in person at a local law enforcement agency on a regular basis:
You face a felony charge in Nevada for not following any of these conditions.
Note that Nevada law draws no distinction between willfully defying a court order to register as a sex offender and innocently forgetting to register. Both are equally illegal. However, judges may impose lesser penalties when you had no intention to violate the law.3
2. How do I register as a sex offender in Nevada?
The court should provide you with detailed instructions on how to fulfill your registration requirements. Below is general information on:
- Initial registration,
- Change of address, and
- Annual verification
Note that Tier 1 offenders (which is the least serious class of sex offenders) are not searchable in the online Sex Offender Registry unless the victim — if any — was a child. But Tier 2 and 3 offenders are publicly searchable.
2.1. Initial Registration
You have 48 hours to register with the local police department following your conviction or release from custody. So if you are convicted in Las Vegas, you would register with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
If you intend to visit another Nevada city or county for more than 48 hours, you will need to register there as well before the 48-hour mark. To find the local police or sheriff’s office, go to the State of Nevada Department of Safety website.4
2.2. Change of Address
Whenever you change addresses, you need to inform the local law enforcement agency within 48 hours of the move. If the move is to another city, county, or state, you need to inform both your former and new local law enforcement agencies.
Depending on the circumstances, you may need to update the following information:
- place of employment,
- driver’s license number,
- address, and/or
- motor vehicle(s) registered to or frequently driven by you
If you are a Las Vegas resident, you may be able to update your address online.5
2.3. Annual Verification
You are required to verify your registration once a year. The Central Repository will mail you a form, which you should complete and return along with:
- current fingerprints,
- a photograph, and
- any other relevant information.
If you are a Las Vegas resident, you may be able to complete part of your annual verification online.6
For more information, contact the Sex Offender Registration Unit at (775) 687-1600 on Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm PST or visit the Nevada Attorney General website.
3. What are the penalties for failing to register under NRS 179D.550?
|Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in Nevada
|Category D felony
The judge may grant probation in lieu of incarceration.
|Subsequent offense within 7 years of the first
|Category C felony
The judge may not grant probation in lieu of incarceration.
Note that the judge will consider your motivation when determining a sentence. The judge might order a less serious punishment if you accidentally forgot to comply with your registration requirements than if you deliberately chose not to do so.7
Also note that failure to register is a separate crime from the underlying sex offense. Therefore a conviction for violating NRS 179D.550 counts as a “strike” under Nevada’s habitual felon law (NRS 207.010), which punishes you for having three or more felonies on your record.8
Finally, note that the Nevada DMV and Gaming Control Board deny license renewals if you are convicted of violating registration requirements. Scroll down to the next question to learn more about how being a sex offender affects Nevada driver’s licenses.9
4. What happens to my driver’s license?
If you neglected to register as a sex offender in Nevada, you will be denied a driver’s license renewal when your current license expires.
If you are convicted of a sex offense, you are required to renew your Nevada driver’s license annually once your current license expires. (Non-sex offenders renew licenses only once every eight years.)
Every year, the DMV mails convicted sex offenders a driver’s license renewal notice about 45 days before your license is set to expire. Then you must renew the license in person at a DMV office. You may not renew by mail or online.10
5. How do I fight charges for failing to register as a sex offender?
There are various defenses an attorney may try to use to fight charges of violating NRS 179D.550. The following are four of the more common strategies:
- No registration requirement
- Human error
- False allegations
5.1. No registration requirement
Sometimes there is a miscommunication or lack of communication between government agencies about who is required to register and where. These information gaps can lead to false arrests:
Example: Kathy is a Tier I sex offender who successfully petitioned the court to get off the sex offender registry after only ten years instead of the usual fifteen. On the eleventh year, Kathy gets arrested for violating NRS 179D.550. But once Kathy’s attorney produces the court documents showing that she is no longer required to register as a sex offender, the charge should be dismissed.
In the above example, Kathy did not fail to register because she was not required to. Courts should not penalize defendants for government mistakes.
5.2. Human error
When you initially register as a sex offender at your local law enforcement station, human beings are inputting the information into the databases. And sometimes these people enter the wrong information, which may lead to false arrests:
Example: Nathan is convicted of indecent exposure in Reno, so he goes to the Reno Police Department to fulfill his registration requirements. The temp worker filling in that day fails to do an accurate job, and the police department soon arrests Nathan for failing to register. But if Nathan’s attorney can show that he did everything that was required, the charge should be dropped.
In the above example, Nathan did not fail to abide by NRS 179D.550. Instead, the police station failed to correctly process his registration. Courts should not penalize defendants when the police were in the wrong.
5.3. False allegations
Sometimes disgruntled police permit their individual prejudices to overpower their duty to follow the law. One way they may take out their aggression is to punish you by conveniently “losing” your paperwork and falsely claiming that you failed to register.
Example: After Brian registers as a sex offender, a police officer – who is angry Brian is out of custody – deletes his registration from the database. Then when 48 hours pass, this police officer arrests Brian for violating NRS 179D.550. But if Brian’s attorney can show that he abided by all his requirements and that the fault lay with the police officer, then criminal charges should not stand.
Therefore, it is very important for you to keep detailed records of all your paperwork and postmark dates. You should photograph and keep screengrabs of any relevant documents that show you are compliant with Nevada registration laws. So if a bad police officer ever tries to sabotage you, you will have physical proof that you were compliant.
A possible defense to NRS 179D.550 charges is that you were too incapacitated to comply with your registration requirements.
Example: Daniel is a sex offender who goes into a coma following a car crash. If a warrant is issued for Daniel’s arrest after he misses his deadline to register, Daniel’s attorney can ask for a court hearing to explain the situation. Then the judge may agree to recall the warrant and dismiss the case since Daniel was incapable of registering.
Courts are more likely to dismiss charges if you are a victim of emergency circumstances beyond your control, such as a car accident or illness. If your flight into Nevada gets canceled, the judge may be unsympathetic and argue that you should not have waited until the last minute to comply with registration requirements.
6. Can my record be sealed?
An NRS 179D.550 conviction should be sealable five (5) years after the case ends. But if the case gets dismissed, then there is no waiting period.
Note that the underlying sex offense conviction that led to your requirement to register can never be sealed. Learn more about sealing Nevada criminal records.11
|Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
|Record Seal waiting period
|First conviction (category D felony)
|5 years after the case ends
|Subsequent conviction (category C felony)
|5 years after the case ends
|Dismissed charge (no conviction)
|No waiting period
|Underlying sex offense
|May never be sealed
7. What are the immigration consequences?
Violating NRS 179D.550 is not considered an aggravated felony or a crime involving moral turpitude. However, the underlying sex offense that you were convicted of almost certainly is a deportable offense.12
Therefore if you are a non-citizen facing criminal charges, you should hire a lawyer as soon as possible to try to get your charges dismissed or reduced to an offense that is definitely not removable.
8. How long do I have to register as a sex offender in Nevada?
It depends on what sex offender “tier” you have been classified as:
|Sex Offender Level in Nevada
|Length of time the offender has to register
|15 years, though it may be lessened to 10 years if you have been fully compliant and have not been convicted of another felony
|For life, though it may be lessened to 25 years if you were a juvenile court defendant, you have been compliant, and you have not been convicted of another felony
If you are an eligible Tier I or III offender, you must petition the court to hold a hearing to determine whether you may get off the sex offender registry early.
Arrested? Call us . . .
If you are accused of violating NRS 179D.550, our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers can meet with you to discuss whether we may get the charge reduced to a lesser offense or dismissed completely.
Arrested in California? Go to our article on Penal Code 290 PC.
Arrested in Nevada? Go to our article on CRS 18-3-412.6 & 18-3-412.5.
- NRS 179D.097.
- NRS 179D.441; NRS 179D.445; NRS 179D.447; NRS 179D.450; NRS 179D.460; NRS 179D.470.
- NRS 179D.550. Prohibited acts; penalties; duties of local law enforcement agency. 1. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, an offender or sex offender who: (a) Fails to register with a local law enforcement agency; (b) Fails to notify the local law enforcement agency of a change of name, residence, employment or student status as required pursuant to NRS 179D.447; (c) Provides false or misleading information to the Central Repository or a local law enforcement agency; or (d) Otherwise violates the provisions of NRS 179D.010 to 179D.550, inclusive, –> is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130. 2. An offender or sex offender who commits a second or subsequent violation of subsection 1 within 7 years after the first violation is guilty of a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130. A court shall not grant probation to or suspend the sentence of a person convicted pursuant to this subsection. 3. If a local law enforcement agency is aware that an offender or sex offender in its jurisdiction has failed to comply with a provision of NRS 179D.010 to 179D.550, inclusive, the local law enforcement agency must take any appropriate action to ensure compliance.
- NRS 179D.460.
- NRS 179D.470.
- NRS 179D.480.
- NRS 179D.550.
- NRS 207.010.
- NRS 483.283; see State of Nevada Gaming Employee Registration Application.
- NRS 483.283.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.
- Pannu v. Holder, (9th Cir. 2011) 639 F.3d 1225 (“We concluded that ‘it is the sexual offense that is reprehensible, not the failure to register’ and that although the registration laws may serve useful purposes, ‘the mere failure to register as a sex offender cannot constitute morally turpitudinous behavior.'”).