NRS 205.380 is the Nevada fraud law that prohibits obtaining money by false pretenses. The statute states it is illegal when a person:
knowingly and designedly by any false pretense obtains from any other person … money, goods, wares, chattels, effects or other valuable thing, including rent or the labor of another person not his or her employee, with the intent to cheat or defraud the other person[.]
In short, people may not misrepresent themselves to get money or something of value from another person. Examples of obtaining money by false pretenses include:
- Getting paid for a job that the person did not do;
- Selling property that the seller does not give the buyer after payment; or
- A landlord receiving rent money while keeping the premises inaccessible to the tenant
In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about NRS 205.380 violations.
- 1. What are the penalties?
- 2. What are the defenses?
- 3. What are the immigration consequences?
- 4. Can the record be sealed?
1. What are the penalties?
The punishment for violating NRS 205.380 depends on the amount of money that was illegally obtained.1
|Amount of money obtained by false pretenses||Nevada penalties|
|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|
2. What are the defenses?
Two common defense strategies to Nevada charges of obtaining money by false pretenses are the following.
- The defendant had no intent to defraud; or
- The defendant received nothing of value
2.1. No intent to defraud
NRS 205.380 is an intent crime. If the defendant had no intent to defraud the victim, then he/she is not guilty.2
Example: In 1993, the Nevada Supreme Court heard a case involving a bank account holder who discovered an extra $5,000 in her account. She reported the money to the bank. And the bank employees assured her that she may withdraw the money and keep it. She proceeded to withdraw the cash from an ATM and was then arrested. But the court said she committed no crime because she had no intent to defraud the bank.3
It is challenging for prosecutors to prove intent to defraud because the defendant’s state of mind is invisible. Instead, prosecutors rely on circumstantial evidence such as recorded communications, eyewitnesses, and video surveillance.
2.2. The defendant received nothing of value
Even if the defendant intends to swindle someone, he/she cannot violate NRS 205.380 if he/she obtains nothing of value.
Example: Max promises to landscape Henry’s backyard for $2,000. Max never has any intention of doing the job. He intends to take the money and run. But before Henry can cut him a check, he changes his mind and decides to hire someone else. Even though Max had intent to defraud, he did not violate NRS 205.380 because he obtained nothing for his false pretenses.
In every criminal case, the prosecution has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defense attorney can show that the state’s evidence is too weak, the charge may be reduced or dismissed.
3. What are the immigration consequences?
Obtaining someone of value through false pretenses may qualify as a crime involving moral turpitude.4 This means that non-citizens convicted of it may be deported after their sentence ends.
Immigrants facing criminal charges are encouraged to seek legal counsel right away. An experienced attorney may be able to get NRS 205.380 charges dismissed or reduced to a non-deportable offense.
4. Can the record be sealed?
Yes. Misdemeanor convictions may be sealed in Nevada one year after the case ends. Category D, C, or B felony convictions may be sealed five years after the case ends. And if the charge gets dismissed, the defendant can petition for a record seal right away.5
Learn more about sealing Nevada criminal records.
In California? See our article Theft by False Pretenses (Penal Code 532 PC).
- NRS 205.380.
- Amen v. State, 106 Nev. 749, 801 P.2d 1354 (1990).
- Schertz v. State, 109 Nev. 377, 849 P.2d 1058 (1993).
- See, e.g., Matter of D, 2 I. & N. Dec. 836 (BIA 1947).
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.