NRS 202.285 is the Nevada gun law that prohibits maliciously firing a gun into a building or vehicle.
Discharging a firearm at an occupied building or vehicle is a category B felony carrying one to 10 years in prison and/or up to $5,000. But if the building or vehicle was abandoned, then shooting a gun at it is a misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000.
The statute in its entirety reads:
NRS 202.285. 1. A person maliciously discharges a firearm at or into any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, aircraft, vehicle, vehicle trailer, semitrailer or house trailer, railroad locomotive, car or tender:
(a) If it has been abandoned, is guilty of a misdemeanor unless a greater penalty is provided in NRS 202.287.
(b) If it is occupied, is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 10 years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.
2. Whenever a firearm is so discharged at or into any vessel, aircraft, vehicle, vehicle trailer, semitrailer or house trailer, railroad locomotive, car or tender, in motion or at rest, and it cannot with reasonable certainty be ascertained in what county the crime was committed, the offender may be arrested and tried in any county through which the vessel, aircraft, vehicle, vehicle trailer, semitrailer or house trailer, locomotive or railroad car may have run on the trip during which the firearm was discharged at or into it.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys explain:
- 1. What does NRS 202.285 do?
- 2. Will I go to prison?
- 3. How can I defend against the charges?
- 4. Is my record sealable?
- 5. Are there immigration consequences?
- 6. Can I keep my gun?
1. What does NRS 202.285 do?
NRS 202.285 makes it a Nevada crime to fire a gun at or into a:
- aircraft or
It makes no difference under state law if the bullet never reaches the structure or vehicle.
Example: One night John gets angry and shoots a handgun at his ex-girlfriend’s house. The bullet instead hits a lampost and ricochets onto the street.
A law enforcement officer from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department immediately arrests John for maliciously discharging a firearm at a structure. The fact he missed makes his action no less unlawful.
Note that you face a separate charge for each bullet fired, even if you discharge them in quick succession. So firing ten bullets would invite ten individual charges for discharging a firearm.2
2. Will I go to prison?
Maliciously firing a gun at or into an occupied vehicle or structure is a category B felony under Nevada law. The judge can impose prison, fines, or both:
- 1 to 10 years in Nevada State Prison, and/or
- up to $5,000.
It is only a misdemeanor to maliciously fire a gun at an abandoned vehicle or structure. The judge can impose jail, fines, or both:
- up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- up to $1,000.3
3. How can I defend against the charges?
From our experience fighting Nevada gun charges, our criminal attorneys developed three defenses that may get NRS 202.285 charges reduced or dismissed.
- Gun was not fired at a structure or vehicle. Perhaps you actually fired the gun at an open field, a lake, or the sky. If the police cannot find a bullet that matches your gun, the D.A. may have insufficient evidence to show you actually fired at a building or vehicle.
- No malicious behavior. Accidentally or negligently firing a gun at a structure or vehicle does not violate NRS 202.285. If we can show that you never meant to discharge the weapon, the case should be dropped.
- Self-defense. You are allowed to fire a gun in self-defense if you are facing an immediate threat of death or physical injury.
Example: Alan is walking down the street in Henderson when a man suddenly jumps him. Alan pulls out his gun and shoots the man, though some of the bullets miss and go into one of the parked motor vehicles on the street.
Chances are good Alan will not be prosecuted. The state would probably agree that he acted in lawful self-defense.
4. Is my record sealable?
Yes. If you are convicted for a category B felony, then you can pursue a record seal five years after the case ends. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, then the wait time is only one year after the case ends.
Note that if your case gets dismissed, then you can petition for a record seal immediately.4 Learn more about sealing Nevada criminal records.
5. Are there immigration consequences?
Most gun crimes are potentially deportable under federal law.5 So if you are a non-citizen charged with discharging a gun into a structure or vehicle, be sure to hire an attorney to try to get the charge dropped or changed to a non-deportable offense.
6. Can I keep my gun?
Getting convicted of discharging a firearm as a category B felony strips you of your gun rights.6
The only avenue for restoring your gun rights following a felony conviction is through a Nevada pardon.
7. Related offenses
7.1. Shooting from a car or building
Shooting a gun from a car or building (NRS 202.287) can be a category B felony or a misdemeanor depending on whether you are in a populated area as designated by local law. The penalties are identical to those for shooting a gun at a car or building.
7.2. Discharging a firearm in public
Under NRS 202.280, it is a misdemeanor to discharge a gun on a public street, public building, or other public place while you are:
- intoxicated by alcohol or controlled substances, or
- acting wantonly, maliciously, or negligently.
7.3. Brandishing a weapon
NRS 202.320 makes it a misdemeanor to draw a deadly weapon in a threatening manner in front of two or more human beings. But if you put someone in fear of immediate bodily harm, you instead would face charges for assault with a deadly weapon – a felony.
For Additional help…
Arrested by a peace officer? Contact our Las Vegas, NV law firm for legal advice. We serve clients in Clark County and throughout the state of Nevada.
Our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers defend against all types of felony, gross misdemeanor, and misdemeanor charges, from DUI to domestic violence. We also practice personal injury.
See our related articles on altering a gun’s serial number, violating a restraining order, possession of a firearm by a felon, and concealed weapons/concealed firearms (CCW permits).
In California? See our article on Penal Code 246 PC.