NRS 205.300 is the Nevada theft law prohibiting embezzlement. Embezzlement occurs when people steal money or property the owner entrusted them with. Embezzling $1,200 or more is a felony. Otherwise, it is a misdemeanor. Penalties include possible incarceration, fines, and restitution. The most common defense is that the defendant had no intent to steal.
- A cashier pocketing cash from a customer instead of putting it in the cash register.
- Renting a car, and then never returning it.
- A jewelry store employee stealing the inventory.
- A contractor taking payment and then not doing the work.
The language of NRS 205.300 states:
Any bailee of any money, goods or property, who converts it to his or her own use, with the intent to steal it or to defraud the owner or owners thereof and any agent, manager or clerk of any person, corporation, association or partnership, or any person with whom any money, property or effects have been deposited or entrusted, who uses or appropriates the money, property or effects or any part thereof in any manner or for any other purpose than that for which they were deposited or entrusted, is guilty of embezzlement
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is the legal definition of embezzlement in Nevada?
- 2. How can a defense lawyer help?
- 3. What are the penalties under NRS 205.300?
- 4. What are the immigration consequences?
- 5. Can the record be sealed?
Embezzlement is stealing property that the thief had legal possession of.1 Embezzlement is commonly called employee theft or employee fraud. That is because many cases stem from charges of workers taking their employers’ assets.
Example: Marshall is a cage worker at the Mirage. One day a customer hands him $1,000. Instead of putting it into the register, he steals it. The money legally belonged to the Mirage. The Mirage entrusts Marshall with possession of its money. By taking it for himself, Marshall embezzled it.
But an employer/employee relationship is not necessary to embezzle. Embezzlement can occur between friends, family, co-workers, or strangers. There just needs to be a relation of trust or confidence.2
Example: Jack’s motorcycle is illegally parked. But he does not have time to move it. Jack flags down a pedestrian and asks if he’d move his motorcycle for him for $5. The pedestrian agrees. But instead of returning with the keys, he drives off with it for good. Jack entrusted the motorcycle with the pedestrian. The pedestrian then embezzled it for himself.
Had the pedestrian in the above example made no agreement with Jack and simply took the motorcycle, he would instead face charges for grand larceny of a motor vehicle (NRS 205.228).
Intent to steal or defraud is a key element of embezzlement in Nevada. Therefore, a typical defense defendants use is that they did not mean to permanently take the money or property entrusted to them.
Example: Trish’s boss loans her a company printer to use at home for the weekend. Trish forgets to bring it back on Monday. It is not embezzlement because Trish did not mean to permanently deprive her boss of the printer.
Put another way, there is no embezzlement if defendants had a good faith belief that they used the property in the way the owner wanted.4
Example: Hal’s boss lends him a company credit card to buy office supplies. Hal uses the card to buy the supplies and the gasoline it took to drive to and from the store. The boss never said Hal could not use it for gas. And Hal honestly believed that he could use it for gas. There was no intent to defraud. Therefore, no embezzlement occurred.
In any case, the district attorney has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defense attorney can show that the state has insufficient evidence or that the evidence is unreliable, embezzlement charges should not stand.
|Total value of stolen property or money embezzled||Nevada sentence|
|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 |
Separate acts of misdemeanor embezzlement can be charged as one felony. This rule kicks in when the cumulative value from separate acts of embezzlement within a six-month period is $1,200 or more.5
Acts of embezzlement are potentially deportable. So if non-citizen defendants get convicted of these unlawful acts, they could be thrown out of the U.S.6
But a criminal defense attorney may be able to persuade prosecutors to dismiss the charge. Or else reduce it to a non-deportable offense. That is why it is vital for alien defendants to retain counsel as soon as possible after getting charged.
Embezzlement convictions are sealable under Nevada law. But there is a waiting period to seal a criminal record:
Record seal wait time
|Misdemeanor||1 year after the case ends.|
|Category D felony||5 years after the case ends.|
|Category C felony||5 years after the case ends.|
|Category B felony||5 years after the case ends.|
Note that if the case gets dismissed, the defendant can pursue a record seal right away.7
People are advised to seal their records as soon as possible. Embezzlement cases show up on background checks. And any unlawful activity looks bad to potential employers. Learn how to get a Nevada record seal.
In California? Learn more about Penal Code 503 PC.
In Colorado? Learn more about CRS 18-4-401.
- NRS 205.300.
- Arajakis v. State, 108 Nev. 976, 843 P.2d 800 (1992); Manley v. Filson, 3:15-cv-00083-LRH-WGC (D. Nev. Mar. 29, 2018).
- Walsh v. State, 110 Nev. 1385, 887 P.2d 1239 (1994).
- NRS 205.0835.
- United States v. Del Mundo, 97 F.3d 1461 (9th Cir. 1996), cert. den., 519 U.S. 1134, 117 S.Ct. 1000, 136 L.Ed.2d 879 (1997).
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.