NRS 203.090 is the Nevada law that makes it a misdemeanor to disrupt a lawfully assembled meeting of people. The disturbance can be through words or actions, such as disrupting a speaker or sabotaging sound equipment. Penalties for disturbing a meeting include up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
NRS 203.090 states that “Every person who, without authority of law, shall willfully disturb any assembly or meeting not unlawful in its character, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is the crime of “disturbing a meeting”?
- 2. Is jail a penalty under NRS 203.090?
- 3. What are ways to fight the charges in Nevada?
- 4. Is the crime deportable?
- 5. How soon can the criminal record be sealed?
- 6. Related offenses
1. What is the crime of “disturbing a meeting”?
The legal definition of disturbing a meeting in Nevada is intentionally causing a disruption to a meeting. This law is extremely broad and can potentially apply to any type of gathering of two or more persons including:
- Board meetings
- Town hall meetings
- Public protests
Furthermore, the law potentially forbids many different disturbing behaviors such as:
- Talking or yelling out of turn during a meeting
- Preventing people from attending the meeting by impeding their travel on a highway
- Ruining sound or lighting equipment meant for a meeting1
(Note that it is a separate crime to disturb a meeting that is religious in nature. Scroll down to section 6 to learn more.)
2. Is jail a penalty under NRS 203.090?
Potentially. The Nevada offense of disturbing a meeting is a misdemeanor. The punishment is:
- Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines2
For a first offense the D.A. may be amenable to dismissing the case completely if the defendant pays a fine, performs community service, and/or attends an Impulse Control Counseling class.
3. What are ways to fight the charges Nevada?
Three potential defenses to the charges include the following:
- First Amendment: The first amendment affords every citizen freedom of speech, though sometimes law enforcement arrest people on the pretense they are somehow jeopardizing public safety. If a defense attorney can show that the defendant was merely exercising the freedom to be heard in a lawful manner, then the defendant committed no unlawful act.3
- Unlawful meeting: NRS 203.090 applies only to disturbances of lawful gatherings. If a defense attorney can demonstrate that the meeting was illegal to begin with, then the case should be dismissed.
- Lack of willfulness: A person is not liable for disturbing a public meeting if he/she did not mean to cause a disruption. If a defense attorney can convincingly argue that the disturbance was an accident or otherwise unintentional, charges should not stand.
In every case, prosecutors bear the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Defense lawyers would try to raise this doubt by compiling evidence favorable to the defendant. This typically includes surveillance video, spectators’ smartphone videos, and eyewitness accounts.
4. Is the crime deportable?
No. A conviction under this section is not a deportable offense. Still, any immigrant facing criminal charges is advised to seek out an experienced attorney to fight the charges.
5. How soon can the criminal record get sealed?
Convictions for disturbing a meeting can be sealed one (1) year after the case ends in Nevada. And in cases where the charge got dismissed, there is no waiting period – the defendant can petition for a seal immediately.4
6. Related offenses
6.1. Disturbing a religious meeting
Disturbing a religious meeting (NRS 201.270) is largely the same offense as violating NRS 203.090, except that the meeting is religious in nature. Examples include a service in a church, synagogue or mosque. It can also include religious gatherings in multi-use or non-religious spaces, such as a park. It is a misdemeanor punished by up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
6.2. Unlawful assembly
The Nevada crime of unlawful assembly (NRS 203.060) occurs when two or more people gather for the purpose of violating the law but then disband without having followed through with the intended crime. It is a misdemeanor punished by up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
6.3. Breach of peace
People face breach of the peace (NRS 203.030) charges for offensive conduct in public, such as by having a loud bar fight or making disruptive, unusual noises in a public place. Also called disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, or disturbing public peace, this crime is a misdemeanor punished by up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
Our office is based in Clark County, though we serve clients throughout the state, including Reno.
In California? See our article on disturbing a public meeting (Penal Code 403 PC).
In Colorado? See our article on disturbing a lawful assembly (CRS 18-9-108).
- Nevada Revised Statute 203.090.
- NRS 203.090.
- First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.