NRS 205.275 is the Nevada law that prohibits knowingly receiving or being in possession of stolen property. The penalties for possessing stolen items are the same as for stealing the property in the first place. Depending on the value of the property, a conviction can be a misdemeanor or a felony.
The statute states:
[A] person commits an offense involving stolen property if the person, for his or her own gain or to prevent the owner from again possessing the owner’s property, buys, receives, possesses or withholds property:
(a) Knowing that it is stolen property; or
(b) Under such circumstances as should have caused a reasonable person to know that it is stolen property.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. How does Nevada law define possession of stolen property?
- 2. How harsh are the penalties under NRS 205.275?
- 3. Can a defense attorney help?
- 4. Are there immigration consequences?
- 5. When can the criminal record be sealed?
1. How does Nevada law define possession of stolen property?
It is illegal for people to buy, receive, or possess property that they know – or reasonably should know – is stolen. Nevada courts will presume that the defendant knew the property was filched if:
- The defendant is found with three or more items of the same kind of property, and
- They all have their manufacturer’s serial numbers or manufacturer’s identification numbers defaced.
Note that a person may be prosecuted for possession of lifted property even if the person who did the actual stealing is never caught or convicted.1
Also note that possession of stolen property is a separate crime from possession of lost property (NRS 205.0832(d).
2. How harsh are the penalties under NRS 205.275?
The punishment for possessing or receiving stolen property depends on the value of the property:
|Value of items||Punishment in Nevada under NRS 205.275|
|Less than $1,200||Misdemeanor:
|$1,200 to less than $5,000||Category D felony
|$5,000 to less than $25,000||Category C felony
|$25,000 to less than $100,000||Category B felony
|$100,000 or more||Category B felony
The items’ value is the highest value attributable to the property by any reasonable standard.2
3. Can a defense attorney help?
Four common defenses to receipt of stolen property charges in Nevada include the following:
- Lack of knowledge the goods were stolen: Perhaps the defense lawyer can produce emails, text messages, or recorded calls that prove the defendant believed the items were legitimate and not stolen. Perhaps the defendant was framed, and the person who sold the items tried to trick him/her. As long as the D.A. cannot prove the defendant had criminal intent, nothing unlawful occurred.3
- Lack of possession: NRS 205.275 prohibits buying, receiving, possessing or withholding stolen goods. Simply being in the vicinity of hot items does not count. So long as the D.A. cannot show that the defendant exercised any control over the items, the criminal charges should be dropped.
- Lack of stolen property: A key element of NRS 205.275 is that the goods in question were wrongfully taken. If the defense attorney can show that the goods legally belonged to the defendant, then no crime took place.
- Illegal search: Perhaps law enforcement executed an illegal search warrant in order to find the evidence. The defense attorney could then file a motion to suppress evidence explaining to the judge how the police violated the defendant’s constitutional rights. If the judge grants the motion and disregards the illegally obtained evidence, the case could be dismissed for lack of proof.
4. Are there immigration consequences?
The possession of items that were stolen under NRS 205.275 may be an aggravated felony and/or a “crime of moral turpitude” in Nevada.4 Consequently, non-citizens convicted of this offense may be removed from the United States in addition to facing fines and jail time. So it is important that aliens retain legal counsel right away to try to avoid a conviction for this crime.
5. When can the criminal record be sealed?
If the NRS 205.275 charge gets dismissed, then the defendant can petition for a record seal in Nevada immediately. Otherwise, the wait to get a record seal depends on what class of crime the defendant was convicted of:
|Possession of Stolen Goods conviction||Record sealing waiting period (after the case closes)|
|Category D felony||5 years|
|Category C felony||5 years|
|Category B felony||5 years5|
¿Habla español? Obtener información acerca de la recepción de propiedad robada en Nevada.
Also see our articles on the related offenses of shoplifting / retail theft, motor vehicle theft (NRS 205.228), obtaining money by false pretenses (NRS 205.380), possession of credit cards without consent (NRS 205.690) and embezzlement (NRS 205.300).
In California? See our article on possessing stolen goods (Penal Code 496 PC).
In Colorado? See our article on receiving stolen goods (CRS 18-4-404).
- Nevada Revised Statute 205.275.
- Same; see also Mercado v. Sheriff, Clark County, 94 Nev. 771, 587 P.2d 1327 (1978).
- See Comstock v. Humphries, 786 F.3d 701 (9th Cir., 2015).
- See INA § 101(a)(43); 8 U.S. Code § 1227.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.