NRS 200.603 is the Nevada statute that defines the crime of peering. Also referred to as a peeping Tom law, this section makes it a crime to go onto another person’s property with the intent to spy through a home’s window, door, or other openings.
Section 200.603 states that “a person shall not knowingly enter upon the property or premises of another or upon the property or premises owned by him or her and leased or rented to another with the intent to surreptitiously conceal himself or herself on the property or premises and peer, peep or spy through a window, door or other opening of a building or structure that is used as a dwelling on the property or premises.”
Peering is generally a misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying:
- up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- up to a $1,000 fine
But penalties increase if the defendant had a camera or a deadly weapon at the time of the alleged spying. However, it may be possible to get peeping charges reduced or completely dismissed pursuant to a plea bargain. Common defenses to NRS 200.603 allegations are:
- the defendant was falsely accused,
- the defendant no intent to spy, or
- the defendant owned or lived at the property
In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense attorneys discuss the following peering topics:
- 1. Legal definition
- 2. Penalties for peering in Nevada under NRS 200.603
- 3. Defenses
- 4. Sealing records
- 5. Immigration consequences
- 6. Related offenses
1. Legal definition
Nevada law defines peering as intentionally going to another’s home and spying through a window or other aperture. In short, Nevada prohibits being a “Peeping Tom.”
Violating NRS 200.603 has three elements:
- the defendant knowingly enters another’s property;
- the defendant intends to hide on the property to spy; and
- the defendant intends to spy through a window, door, or other opening of a dwelling
There is no requirement that the peeping victim own, lease, or reside on the property. And a person can be convicted of peeping even if it turns out no one is home when the alleged peeper goes on the property.1
Example: Bart waits until it is dark to sneak into his pretty neighbor’s backyard so he can look into her bedroom window. When Bart looks into the window, there is no one there. Before Bart can leave the property, a patrolling police officer spots Bart and arrests him for peering.
It does not matter in the above example that Bart did not end up seeing anything. The D.A. can prosecute as long as Bart had the intention to spy.
Note that Bart would not be guilty of peering if he formulated the intent to spy after he entered his neighbor’s land. Peeping charges apply only if the suspect entered the premises with the intent to spy.
Example: Bart’s dog escapes into his neighbor’s backyard. Bart goes into the backyard to retrieve the dog. While there, he notices his neighbor’s bedroom light is on. He then hides in the bushes and peeks into her window.
In the above example, Bart did not form the intention to spy until after he was on the neighbor’s property. Therefore, he did not violate NRS 200.603. Arguably, he could still be prosecuted for other offenses such as trespass or stalking.
2. Penalties for peering in Nevada under NRS 200.603
The punishment for violating NRS 200.603 turns on whether the defendant had a deadly weapon — such as a gun or knife — or a recording device:
Nevada peering offense
|Peering while in possession of a deadly weapon||Category B felony:
|Peering while in possession of a camera or sound recorder||Gross misdemeanor:
|Peering without a camera/recorder and without a deadly weapon||Misdemeanor:
Note that the D.A. may be willing to lessen peeping charges or drop them completely through negotiating a plea bargain.
The best “Peeping Tom” defenses turn on the specific circumstances of each individual case. Common defense strategies include:
- false accusations,
- no intent to spy, or
- defendant ownership of the property,
Note that it is not a defense to peering charges that no one else was on the property, or that the defendant did not see anyone else while spying.
3.1. The defendant was falsely accused
Occasionally people levy false allegations against others out of anger or revenge or a simple mistake. If a defendant may have been falsely accused, the defense attorney would thoroughly investigate in an effort to find:
- video or eyewitness evidence showing that the defendant never spied, and/or
- communications (such as text messages) by the accuser that show his/her motive to lie
If the D.A. sees that the accuser is not trustworthy, the case may be dismissed.
3.2. The defendant had no intent to spy
Innocent people may get wrongfully arrested for peering merely because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Happening to catch someone through an open window by chance is no crime as long as the person had no intent to spy when he/she entered the property.3
Prosecutors have the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defense attorney can show that there is insufficient evidence that the defendant intended to peep, NRS 200.603 charges should not stand.
3.3. The property belonged to the defendant
Peeping charges come into play only when the defendant entered another person’s property.4 If the defendant owed or lived at the home at the time of the alleged spying, then the D.A. should not press peering charges.
4. Sealing records
Peering convictions can usually be sealed from a defendant’s criminal record after a predetermined waiting period. The length of the wait depends on the category of crime the defendant was convicted of:
Nevada peering offense
Waiting period to get a record seal
|Category B felony (with a deadly weapon)||5 years after the case ends|
|Gross misdemeanor (with a camera or recorder)||2 years after the case ends|
|Misdemeanor||1 year after the case ends5|
|Dismissal (no conviction)||No waiting period6|
Learn more about getting Nevada record seals.
5. Immigration consequences
Courts may consider peering a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT), especially if it involved a deadly weapon. CIMTs are often deportable.7
Any immigrants and aliens who have been arrested in Nevada should consult with an experienced lawyer. The attorney may be able to get the charges dismissed or at least reduced to non-removable offenses.
6. Related offenses
6.1. Capturing image of private area of another person
Capturing the image of another’s private area (NRS 200.604) occurs when a person intentionally photographs or takes video of another person’s private parts when the victim has a reasonable expectation of privacy. “Private parts” comprise:
- genitalia or pubic area,
- buttocks, and/or
- female breasts
It makes no difference if the private parts are naked or clad with an undergarment.
A first offense is a gross misdemeanor, carrying up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines. A subsequent offense is a category E felony, carrying probation and a suspended sentence, with a possible jail sentence of up to 1 year. (But if the defendant has two or more prior felony convictions, the court may order one to four years of Nevada State Prison and a maximum of $5,000 in fines.)8
Stalking (NRS 200.575) occurs when someone willfully acts in a way that causes another person to reasonably feel frightened or intimidated. It makes no difference if the stalker had no intention of frightening or intimidating the victim.
A first offense of stalking if the victim is at least 16 is typically a misdemeanor carrying up to six (6) months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. But a subsequent offense if the victim is at least 16 is a gross misdemeanor carrying up to 364 days in jail and/or $2,000 in fines. And aggravated stalking — which is stalking that involves threatening the victim with death or substantial bodily harm (NRS 0.606) — is a category B felony carrying:
- two to fifteen (2 – 15) years in prison, and
- up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge’s discretion)9
Trespass (NRS 207.200) is defined as going on — or refusing to leave — another person’s property without that person’s permission. Many Las Vegas trespass cases involve intoxicated casino patrons who allegedly refuse hotel security’s requests to exit the premises.
Trespass is a misdemeanor carrying up to six (6) months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.10 If the incident happened at a casino, the casino may ban the person from returning.
Arrested in California? See our article on Penal Code 647(i) and (j) PC.