NRS 207.171 is the Nevada statute that prohibits using false or misleading advertisements. False ads are a crime even if no one is deceived or sustains losses from them.
NRS 207.175 makes deceptive advertising a misdemeanor for a first- or second offense, carrying up to six months in jail and/or $1,000. A subsequent offense is a gross misdemeanor, carrying up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000.
These statutes read in full:
NRS 207.171. It is unlawful for any person, firm, corporation or association or any agent or employee thereof to use, publish, disseminate, display or make or cause directly or indirectly to be used, published, disseminated, displayed or made, in any newspaper, magazine or other publication, by any radio, television or other advertising medium, or by any advertising device, or by public outcry, proclamation, or declaration, or by any other manner or means, including but not limited to solicitation or dissemination by mail, telephone or door-to-door contacts, any statement which is known or through the exercise of reasonable care should be known to be false, deceptive or misleading in order to induce any person to purchase, sell, lease, dispose of, utilize or acquire any title or interest in any real or personal property or any personal or professional services or to enter into any obligation or transaction relating thereto, or to include such statement as part of a plan or scheme which intentionally misstates cost or price for the purposes of producing an erroneous belief by any person that the actual cost or price is the same as stated therein.
NRS 207.175. Any person, firm, or any officer or managing agent of any corporation or association who knowingly and willfully violates the provisions of NRS 207.171 shall be punished:
1. For the first or second offense, for a misdemeanor.
2. For the third offense and all subsequent offenses, for a gross misdemeanor
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is deceptive advertising in Nevada?
- 2. How do I fight the case?
- 3. What are the criminal penalties?
- 4. Can I get a record seal?
1. What is deceptive advertising in Nevada?
The legal definition of “deceptive advertising” is making a false or misleading statement through any advertising medium to induce a person into a transaction. A typical example of deceptive advertising is intentionally misstating a product’s price in a sales flyer.
Nevada’s deceptive advertising laws apply to all types of media, such as:
- print publications (newspapers and magazines)
- in person solicitation1
There is an additional rule when it comes to telephone advertising: Soliciting someone over the phone without disclosing upfront that it is a sales call qualifies as deceptive advertising even if no lies are told.2
Note that each individual act of false advertising is prosecuted as a separate offense even if the acts are identical.3
Example: Rodney accosts 20 different people on the street at different times and pitches them a false sales price for a Rolex. Here, Rodney faces 20 separate deceptive ad charges, not just one.
Note that presidents and other higher-ups of companies may be prosecuted for deceptive advertising even if they did not personally create the false ads. All that matters is that they knew about the ads.4
2. How do I fight the case?
In our experience representing business owners, two effective defenses to deceptive advertising charges are:
- The advertising was true: The standard for untrue or misleading advertising in Nevada is the likelihood that the public will be misled. This is extremely subjective. As long as the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you made misleading or false statements, you committed no crime.5
- You acted in good faith: Making a false advertisement is not a crime as long as you did so in good faith and without knowledge of its falsity. Therefore if we can show that the ad was an accident or honest mistake, you should not be held criminally liable.6
It is not a defense that no members of the public were actually defrauded and made a purchase due to the ads.7
3. What are the criminal penalties?
Deceptive advertising is usually prosecuted as a misdemeanor under Nevada state law. The punishment is:
- up to 6 months in county jail and/or $1,000 in fines; and
- a civil penalty of up to $2,500.
A third or subsequent offense is a gross misdemeanor. The sentence is:
- up to 364 days in county jail and/or $2,000 in fines; and
- a civil penalty of up to $2,500.8
Meanwhile, the D.A. or Nevada Attorney General may request an injunction to stop the alleged false advertising. Violating an injunctive order is a gross misdemeanor, carrying:
- up to 364 days in jail, and/or
- up to $2,000 in fines9
Furthermore, agencies such as the Nevada Consumer Affairs Division, the Better Business Bureau, or the Federal Trade Commission may investigate the matter which could cause you to lose your business license.
4. Can I get a record seal?
Yes. A misdemeanor conviction of deceptive advertising can be sealed one year after the case ends. A gross misdemeanor conviction can be sealed two years after the case ends.
Note that there is no wait to pursue a record seal if the case gets dismissed.10 Read more about sealing Nevada criminal records.
Arrested for falsely advertising goods or services? Contact our Las Vegas, NV law firm for legal advice. We practice consumer fraud/deceptive trade practices law throughout the state of Nevada.
In California? See our article on Business & Professions Code 17500 BP.
- Nevada Revised Statute 207.171. See, for example, State ex rel. List v. Courtesy Motors (1979) 95 Nev. 103.
- NRS 207.170.
- Landex, Inc. v. State ex rel List, (1978) 94 Nev. 469.
- See note 1.
- see note 5.
- NRS 207.172.
- NRS 207.173.
- See note 1. NRS 207.174.
- NRS 207.177.
- NRS 179.245. NRS 179.255.