NRS § 201.570 is the Nevada law that prohibits adults from using force or threats to recruit children to criminal gangs. A conviction is a category E felony, which typically carries probation and a suspended prison sentence.
The entirety of the statute reads:
NRS 201.570. 1. An adult commits the crime of criminal gang recruitment if the adult uses or threatens to use physical violence against a child or against another person, or causes or threatens to cause damage to the property of the child or the property of another person, with the specific intent to coerce, induce or solicit the child:
(a) To become a member of a criminal gang;
(b) To remain a member of a criminal gang and not withdraw or disassociate from the criminal gang; or
(c) To rejoin a criminal gang of which the child is no longer a member or from which the child has withdrawn or disassociated.
2. An adult who commits the crime of criminal gang recruitment is guilty of a category E felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
3. As used in this section:
(a) “Adult” means a person who is 18 years of age or older.
(b) “Child” means a person who is less than 18 years of age.
(c) “Criminal gang” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 193.168.
Any gang-related conviction will mar your criminal record and reduce your employment opportunities. But it may be possible to negotiate a favorable plea bargain where the charge gets reduced to a misdemeanor or dismissed.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. Is it a crime to recruit gang members?
- 2. What qualifies as a gang?
- 3. What are the defenses?
- 4. What are the penalties under NRS 201.570?
- 5. Can my case be sealed?
1. Is it a crime to recruit gang members?
It depends on the circumstances. Nevada’s legal definition of “criminal gang recruitment” has two elements that must be met:
- An adult uses physical violence or property damage (or threats of physical violence or property damage) against any person; and
- The purpose of the threats, violence, or property damage is to induce a minor under 18 years old to join, remain in, or rejoin a criminal gang.1
Law enforcement agencies in Nevada take gang violence very seriously, with police officers often going undercover to infiltrate suspected gangs and protect public safety. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has a special Gang Crimes Bureau to track down gangs through stings and informants.
2. What qualifies as a gang?
For a gang to be considered a criminal gang under Nevada law, it must:
- have a common name or identifying symbol; and
- have specific conduct and customs; and
- have as one of its common activities committing felonies.2
Therefore, a group of people that hangs out on street corners with graffiti cans and commits the occasional petty theft would not qualify as a criminal gang. The group has to have a name and engage in felonious criminal activity.
Common types of crimes associated with gang activity include:
- assault with a deadly weapon and other violent crimes;
- using controlled substances;
- drug trafficking; and
- vandalism that causes major damage.
3. What are the defenses?
Based on our experience representing accused members of criminal gangs, we rely on three main defenses:
- No gang existed. Nevada state law has a very specific definition of what qualifies as a criminal gang. If we can show that the group of people you were recruiting for does not meet the legal definition, then the NRS 201.570 charge should be dismissed.
- You had no intent to recruit. The district attorney may have a very difficult time proving that you intended to recruit a child because “state of mind” is invisible and subject to interpretation. If we can show that the D.A.’s evidence is insufficient or unreliable, then the D.A. may drop the charge.
- You were falsely accused. Someone who is angry with you may have levied false allegations just to get you into trouble. If we can show the accuser had a motivation to lie, that could raise sufficient “reasonable doubt” for the judge to throw out your case.
4. What are the penalties under NRS 201.570?
Criminal gang recruitment is a category E felony in Nevada. The standard punishment is:
- probation and a suspended sentence, and
- a potential jail sentence of up to 1 year.
Though if your criminal history includes two or more felony convictions, then the court may order:
- 1 – 4 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- up to $5,000 in fines.3
See our related article about criminal gang enhancements (NRS 193.168), which explains how people face additional penalties for committing felonies in furtherance of a gang.
5. Can my case be sealed?
Category E felony convictions for criminal gang recruitment are sealable two years after the case ends. If your case gets dismissed, though, then you can petition for a record seal right away.4
Learn more about how to seal Nevada criminal records.
Arrested? Contact our criminal law firm for legal advice. Our Las Vegas, NV defense lawyers represent clients in Clark County (including Henderson and North Las Vegas) and throughout the state of Nevada.
In California? Read about Penal Code 186.22 PC.