NRS 206.310 is a Nevada malicious mischief law that prohibits vandalism of public and private property, including real estate, vehicles, and personal belongings. Depending on the extent of the damage, vandalism penalties may include fines, restitution, community service, jail, and a driver’s license suspension. A common defense is that the defendant’s actions were not willful or malicious.
The language of the statute states:
Every person who shall willfully or maliciously destroy or injure any real or personal property of another, for the destruction or injury of which no special punishment is otherwise specially prescribed, shall be guilty of a public offense proportionate to the value of the property affected or the loss resulting from such offense.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is vandalism in Nevada?
- 2. What are ways to fight the charges?
- 3. What are the penalties under NRS 206.310?
- 4. Can immigrants be deported?
- 5. How soon can the record be sealed?
Nevada’s legal definition of vandalism – also called malicious destruction of property – is destroying or injuring another’s property. NRS 206.310 is a “catch-all” crime that comprises all acts of vandalism not specifically prohibited by other vandalism statutes.1 Some examples of NRS 206.310 violations include:
- Tearing down a billboard
- Carving words into building facades
- Driving over a neighbor’s fence
Note that Las Vegas vandalism suspects often face additional criminal charges depending on the circumstances. For example, a person who allegedly breaks down a door and goes inside to steal a computer would face charges for both burglary (NRS 205.060) and vandalizing (for breaking down the door).
Common defenses to Las Vegas vandalism charges include:
- The defendant had the property owner’s consent;
- The defendant’s behavior was not willful; or
- The police arrested the wrong person
2.1. The defendant had the property owner’s consent
There is no vandalism if the property’s owner gave the defendant permission to damage it.2 If the defense attorney can show that the defendant reasonably believed he/she had the owner’s approval, the vandalism charges should be dropped.
Helpful evidence to show consent would be written communications between the defendant and property owner as well as eyewitnesses who heard the owner giving consent.
2.2. The defendant’s behavior was not willful
NRS 206.310 is not meant to punish people for honest accidents or who deface property out of necessity or emergency, such as during a natural disaster.3
Example: Sally is taking a walk near her home in downtown Las Vegas. Suddenly a mountain lion appears, and she climbs over a neighbor’s fence and climbs a tree until the animal passes. But in the process of climbing the fence, she damages several of the pickets. Afterward the neighbors call the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, who arrest Sally for vandalism (as well as trespass under NRS 207.200).
In the above example, Sally acted neither willfully nor maliciously. She faced a dire situation that threatened her life. Therefore Sally acted reasonably by climbing the fence in order to take cover even if it resulted in property damage. There are also several social media postings by other people which serve as proof there was a mountain lion in the area at the time Sally scaled the fence. Although the Las Vegas police arrested her, Sally will probably be found not guilty of any criminal charges in Nevada.
2.3. The police arrested the wrong person
Vandals typically come out at night and act quickly, and many wear obscuring clothes such as face masks. Therefore it may be difficult for eyewitnesses to recognize who committed the vandalism. And this leads to false arrests and misidentifications during criminal line-ups.
If the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is the person who caused the damage, then the NRS 206.310 charge should be dismissed. Typical evidence in these cases include:
- surveillance video,
- police reports,
- forensic evidence, and/or
The punishment for defacing property can carry just a small fine or several years in Nevada State Prison depending on the case:
|Vandalism damage ||NRS 206.310 penalties |
|$5,000 in damage or more; or |
Where the damage impairs public communication, transportation, or police and fire protection (no matter the monetary value of the loss)
|Category C felony: |
|$250 to less than $5,000 in damage||Gross misdemeanor |
|$25 to less than $250 in damage||Misdemeanor |
|Less than $25 in damage||A civil fine of no more than $5004|
Note that many alleged NRS 206.310 violations involve gang members, which can cause jail or prison sentences to double.5 Learn more about criminal gang enhancements in Nevada.
Nevada has more than a dozen vandalism crimes distinct from NRS 206.310, each with its own criminal sentences:
|Nevada vandalism crime||Punishment|
|Knowingly vandalizing religious, burial, educational, transportation, or community sites (NRS 206.125)||Misdemeanor: |
1st offense –
2nd offense –
3rd offense –
|Unlawfully posting bills, signs, or posters (NRS 206.200)||Misdemeanor: |
|Entering property with intent to vandalize (NRS 206.040)||Misdemeanor: |
|Injury of property facing foreclosure (NRS 206.045)||Misdemeanor: |
|Intentionally destroying or tearing down any proclamation or notification that had been posted under government authority (NRS 206.270)||Misdemeanor: |
|Graffiti and defacement of property (NRS 206.330)||Causing less than $250 in damage and cleanup costs is a misdemeanor: |
Causing $250 to less than $5,000 in damage and cleanup costs is a gross misdemeanor.
Causing $5,000 or more in damage and cleanup costs is a category E felony. This carries probation, which includes at least 10 days in jail. (But if the defendant has two or more prior felony convictions, the court may impose one to four years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.)
|Vandalizing historic sites (NRS 381.225)||The same penalties as those for NRS 206.310 (scroll up to the previous subsection)|
|Willfully vandalizing property belonging to the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NRS 501.383)||Misdemeanor: |
In some cases, defendants may have to pay for the cost of clean-up. And depending on the location of the offense, defendants may be arrested by park rangers instead of metro police.
Vandalism is not usually a deportable offense, but immigration law is constantly evolving under the current administration. Any criminal charge looks bad on a non-citizen’s record, especially if he/she is hoping to obtain citizenship eventually.
Aliens charged with a crime in Nevada are encouraged to seek legal counsel right away in an attempt to get the charges dismissed.
The waiting period to seal a Nevada vandalism conviction depends on the category of crime:
|Class of Nevada vandalism conviction||Record seal wait time|
|Category B felony||5 years after the case closes|
|Category C felony||5 years after the case closes|
|Category D felony||5 years after the case closes|
|Category E felony||2 years after the case closes|
|Gross misdemeanor||2 years after the case closes|
|Misdemeanor||1 year after the case closes|
|No conviction (charge got dismissed)||No waiting period6|
Learn more about sealing criminal records.
We represent clients with vandalism charges throughout the state, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Washoe County, Reno, Clark County, Carson City, Goodsprings, Laughlin, Mesquite, North Las Vegas, Bunkerville, Moapa, Moapa Valley, Elko, Pahrump, Searchlight, and Tonopah.
Arrested in California? Visit our page on California vandalism laws (PC 594).
Arrested in Colorado? Visit our article on Colorado Vandalism Laws.
- Nevada Revised Statute 206.310 – Injury to other property.
- Same; NRS 193.155; Romero v. State, 116 Nev. 344, 996 P.2d 894 (Nev. 2000).
- NRS 193.168.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.