Knowingly disturbing a religious service is a crime in Nevada. The punishment includes high fines and jail, and a conviction may cause potential employers to pass the defendant over for a job. But a seasoned Nevada criminal defense lawyer may be able to get the case completely dismissed without going to trial.
This article discusses the Nevada offense of disturbing a religious meeting. Keep reading to learn about the law, possible punishments, and common defenses.
The legal definition of “disturbing a religious meeting” in Las Vegas, Nevada, makes it a crime for someone willfully “to disturb, interrupt or disquiet any assemblage or congregation of people met for religious worship.” Specifically, this law prohibits the following actions:
- Noisy, rude or indecent behavior or profane discourse either within the place where the religious meeting is held or so near it that it disturbs the order and solemnity of the meeting;
- Exhibiting shows or plays, or promoting any animal racing or gaming, or engaging in any boisterous or noisy amusement within or near the religious meeting;
- Disturbing free passage along a highway within one (1) mile of a religious meeting, or maliciously damaging an automobile or other property belonging to any person in attendance upon such meeting; or
- Menacing, threatening or assaulting any person in or near a religious meeting,
Therefore NRS 201.270 outlaws any behavior that interferes with, distracts from or thwarts access to a religious service. Note that the service doesn’t have to be held in a synagogue, mosque or chapel such as the Central Christian Church of Las Vegas for this law to apply . . . the service can be in any public or private space where people have congregated for worship.
It’s not unusual for Nevada prosecutors to press charges for disturbing a religious meeting in conjunction with other crimes. Depending on the specific circumstances of the alleged incident, defendants often face additional and related charges such as:
- The Nevada crime of breaching the peace
- The Nevada crime of reckless endangerment
- The Nevada crime of trespass
- The Nevada crime of harassment
- The Nevada crime of vandalism (malicious mischief)
There are various defenses available to fight a charge of disturbing a religious meeting in Las Vegas. Below are some common strategies:
- No intent to disturb: A person is liable for violating NRS 201.270 only if he/she willfully disturbed a religious meeting. If a defense attorney can demonstrate to the court that the defendant had no intention to disrupt the service or had an otherwise legitimate reason for his/her behavior, then the charge should not stand.
- Insufficient evidence: A defendant may not be convicted of disturbing a religious meeting in Nevada unless the prosecution proves him/her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If a defense attorney can show through investigation, litigation, and cross-examination that the state’s evidence is too holey, questionable or inadequate to meet this standard, then the case should be dismissed.
- False allegations: Sometimes good people are wrongly accused by others out of jealousy, anger, fear or a misunderstanding. If a defense attorney can introduce evidence of eyewitness testimony or video surveillance suggesting that the defendant behaved lawfully, the D.A. may choose to throw out the case for lack of proof. (And the original accuser may then be arrested for the Nevada crime of malicious prosecution.)
The Nevada crime of disturbing a religious meeting is punished as a misdemeanor in Las Vegas. The sentence for a misdemeanor in Las Vegas includes:
- up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- up to $1,000 in fines
For a first offense of disturbing a religious meeting, it’s very rare for a Nevada judge to impose incarceration. And a D.A. may be willing to dismiss the case altogether if the defendant pays a fine, does community service and takes an Impulse Control Counseling class.
Accused of a crime? There’s help . . . .
If you’ve been arrested for disturbing a religious meeting under NRS 201.270, call Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys for a free meeting. They may be able to negotiate your charge down to a full dismissal so your record stays clean. And if necessary they’ll take your matter to trial to fight for your innocence.