NRS 199.210 is the Nevada law that prohibits knowingly obtaining or providing forged or fraudulent written documents to be used as evidence in a legal proceeding. A category D felony, offering false evidence carries one to four years in Nevada State Prison, and the court may impose a fine of up to $5,000.
The statute states:
A person who, upon any trial, hearing, inquiry, investigation or other proceeding authorized by law, offers or procures to be offered in evidence, as genuine, any book, paper, document, record or other instrument in writing, knowing the same to have been forged or fraudulently altered, is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is offering false evidence in Nevada?
- 2. What is the criminal penalty under NRS 199.210?
- 3. Are there ways to get the charge dismissed?
- 4. What happens to immigrant defendants?
- 5. Does a conviction stay on the defendant’s record forever?
1. What is offering false evidence in Nevada?
Nevada’s legal definition of offering false evidence under NRS 199.210 has three “elements”:
- The defendant offers a document to a legal proceeding (or the defendant obtains the document to be offered to the legal proceeding);
- The defendant knows the document is fake or altered; and
- The defendant is trying to pass the document off as real.
The document can be any:
- record, or
- other instrument in writing.
And the legal proceeding can be either a:
- investigation, or
- other proceeding authorized by law.
Note that it does not matter whether the defendant was the one who was physically tampering with or falsifying evidence. Nor does it matter whether the false evidence actually hinders or changes the course of the investigation or case. Merely trying to undermine a legal proceeding by offering falsified documents is illegal in Nevada.1
Also note that an NRS 199.210 violation is a separate crime from forgery (NRS 205.090), which is falsifying documents whether they are used as evidence or not. Violating NRS 199.210 is also different from perjury (NRS 199.120), which is lying under oath. However, forgery and perjury carry similar penalties to giving falsified evidence.2
2. What is the criminal penalty under NRS 199.210?
Offering false evidence is a category D felony in the state of Nevada. The punishment carries:
- 1 – 4 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- Up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge’s discretion)3
3. Are there ways to get the charge dismissed?
Either of the following three arguments may persuade the District Attorney to drop an NRS 199.210 charge:
- The defendant did not act knowingly: Presenting falsified evidence is unlawful only when the defendant actually knew that it was false. Honest mistakes are not criminal. If the defense attorney can show that the defendant honestly believed the documents were genuine, then the defendant committed no crime.
- The evidence was legitimate: A defendant is not liable for offering false evidence if the written document in question was indeed genuine. For this defense, the defense attorney would try to show through expert witnesses and forensic investigations that the documents in question were authentic.
- The police performed an illegal search. Law enforcement is required to abide by the Fourth Amendment when conducting searches and seizures. If the police may have crossed a line, the defense attorney can ask the court to suppress any evidence found from the illegal search. If the judge agrees, the prosecution may have to drop the case for lack of proof.
4. What happens to immigrant defendants?
There is no case law that indicates whether offering false evidence in Nevada is a deportable criminal act. Therefore, it is possible that prosecutors may try to use it as grounds for removing alien defendants from the country.
Any non-citizens charged with violating NRS 199.210 should consult with an attorney right away. It may be possible to get the charge dismissed or reduced to a non-deportable crime.
5. Does a conviction stay on the defendant’s record forever?
Any criminal conviction in Nevada stays on the defendant’s criminal record forever unless it gets sealed.
Defendants convicted of offering false evidence may petition the court for a record seal five (5) years after the case ends. But if the charge got dismissed, then the defendant can petition for a record seal right away.4
The records seal process itself takes several months. Learn how to seal criminal records in Nevada.
- NRS 199.210 – Offering False Evidence; see also Siragusa v. Brown, 114 Nev. 1384, 971 P.2d 801 (Nevada Supreme Court, 1998).
- Note that the Nevada crime of intentionally destroying evidence (NRS 199.220) is a gross misdemeanor. Meanwhile, dissuading a witness (NRS 199.230) can be a gross misdemeanor or a category D felony.
- Nevada Revised Statute 199.210; NRS 193.130.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.