NRS 203.030 is the Nevada law that makes it a misdemeanor to use spoken words or physical gestures to urge another person to cause a public disturbance. Penalties include up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. A common defense is that the defendant did not act intentionally.
NRS 203.030 states:
Every person who shall by word, sign or gesture willfully provoke, or attempt to provoke, another person to commit a breach of the peace shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is “provoking commission of breach of peace” in Nevada?
- 2. Can the defendant go to jail?
- 3. How do you fight NRS 203.030 charges?
- 4. Can the defendant be deported?
- 5. Can the criminal record be sealed?
- 6. Related offenses
1. What is “provoking commission of breach of peace” in Nevada?
Nevada law makes it a crime not only to commit a “breach of peace” but also to cause others to commit a “breach a peace.” The Nevada crime of committing a breach of peace (NRS 203.010) is very broad. It is any disruptive behavior involving:
- Making loud or unusual noises,
- Committing tumultuous and offensive conduct,
- Threatening, traducing, or quarreling, or
- Challenging others to fight, or fighting
A classic scenario of a breach of the peace is people having a loud, profane argument in public, such as in a bar or on the street. Under Nevada law, it is equally unlawful to use words, signs or gestures to “incite” other people to breach the peace.
Example: UNR is hosting a pro-choice rally. In protest Sally – a pro-life advocate – shows up and tells passerbyers to disrupt the rally by yelling, blaring music, and picking fights with the pro-choice protesters. If caught, Sally could be booked at the Washoe County Detention Center for provoking others to breach the peace. Even though Sally did not yell, blare music, or pick a fight herself, she tried to make others do so. Therefore, she is liable for inciting a public disturbance.
Note that it does not matter whether a public disturbance actually occurs. Merely attempting to incite a public disturbance is a crime.1
2. Can the defendant go to jail?
Nevada courts may impose up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines for inciting a breach of peace. But for first-time offenders, judges typically impose just a fine.2
Note that using written materials – such as a manifesto or book – to cause a breach of peace is an entirely separate crime under NRS 203.040. Defendants are prosecuted for a gross misdemeanor, which carries up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines.3
3. How do you fight NRS 203.030 charges?
There are two main defenses to Nevada charges of inciting people to breach the peace:
- The defendants had no intent to provoke a breach of peace. A key element of the crime of inciting people to breach the peace is that the defendant willingly provoked the disorderly conduct. It is no crime to simply talk about or joke about causing a public disturbance as long as the person had no intent to actually bring one about. As long as the D.A. cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted deliberately, then the charge should be dropped.
- The defendant’s actions were protected under the First Amendment. The U.S. Constitution protects people’s rights to protest and speak freely even if their views are controversial and incendiary. If the defense attorney can show that the defendant’s actions never crossed the line into provoking a public disturbance, then criminal charges should not stand.
4. Can the defendant be deported?
Visa- or green card-holders convicted of inciting others to breach the peace should not face deportation. However, immigration law is always changing. Non-citizens charge with any crime should consult an attorney about their case and how to safeguard their resident status.
5. Can the criminal record be sealed?
Yes. If a charge for provoking others to breach the peace gets dismissed, then the defendant can petition for a Nevada criminal record seal right away. But if the defendant gets convicted, he/she must wait one year after the case ends to pursue a record seal. (There is a two-year wait following convictions for violating NRS 203.040 – incitement by written materials.)4
6. Related offenses
The following related crimes are also Nevada misdemeanors, carrying up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
6.1. Unlawful assembly
Unlawful assembly (NRS 203.060) is when two or more people come together to break the law but then separate without committing the crime of advancing towards it.
6.2. Disturbing a meeting
Disturbing a meeting (NRS 203.090) occurs when a person willfully disrupts any lawful assembly or meeting.
Routing (NRS 203.070) is when two or more people meet to break the law and then make advances towards it. But they stop short before a riot occurs.
- NRS 203.010; NRS 203.030; see e.g., Wilmeth v. State (1980) 96 Nev. 403, 610 P.2d 735.
- NRS 203.030.
- NRS 203.040.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.