NRS 207.270 is the Nevada law that makes it a misdemeanor to loiter near schools or any public locale populated by children, such as parks. The penalty is up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. The most common defense is that the defendant had a legitimate reason to be at the location.
NRS 207.270 states:
Any person who, without legitimate reason to supervise any of such children or other legitimate reason to be at leisure in such place, loiters about any school or public place at or near which children attend or normally congregate is guilty of a misdemeanor.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What does NRS 207.270 do?
- 2. What are the penalties in Nevada?
- 3. Can the charges be fought?
- 4. When can I get a record seal?
1. What does NRS 207.270 do?
Nevada state law forbids people from loitering near schools or public places where children typically gather, such as parks, pools, or playgrounds. Only people with a legitimate reason to be in these areas are allowed. Examples include teachers supervising children, babysitters waiting to pick up children following an activity, or other people with lawful authority such as lifeguards.1
The purpose of this public safety law is to ward off pedophiles and anyone else who poses threats to children under 18 years of age. The downside is that innocent bystanders who are unaware they are near a school or similar location – or who are unaware that loitering is illegal – can face arrest for this criminal offense even though they mean no harm.2
In practice, Nevada police typically make arrests under this law only when they suspect the loiterer could be a pedophile, habitual criminal or felon, or a person with mental illness that may make unlawful contact with a child. Otherwise, peace officers will give the loiterer a warning and advise them to move.
2. What are the penalties in Nevada?
Loitering near a school or other public place where children congregate is punished as a misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying:
- up to 6 months in county jail, and/or
- up to $1,000 in fines3
A first offense carries the same sentencing range as subsequent offenses. And it does not matter if the loiterer was alone or was with a group of persons.
3. Can the charges be fought?
Three possible defenses to Nevada charges or loitering near a school or other place where children gather are:
- A legitimate reason to be there: It is perfectly legal to be near a school or similar real property if the person had a good reason such as waiting to pick up his/her child. If the defense attorney can show that the defendant had a reasonable and harmless explanation for being there, the charge should be dropped.
- No loitering: It is not illegal to hang around school property unless the person is loitering. If the defense attorney can demonstrate that the defendant was there for only a short time and was not truly loitering, then there is a good chance the district attorney will dismiss the case.
- False allegations: It is not unusual for people to wrongly accuse others out of rage, jealousy, or a simple misunderstanding. In these cases, the defense attorney would argue that the accuser lacks credibility and that the evidence vindicates the defendant. (The accuser may also face charges of making false police reports (NRS 207.280) to a law enforcement agency.)
Note that it is not a defense that the defendant had no controlled substances or deadly weapon or had no history of unlawful acts.
4. When can I get a record seal?
People convicted of loitering in Nevada can petition for a record seal one year after the case closes. And there is no wait if the case gets dismissed.4
Also learn about miscellaneous crimes such as luring (NRS 201.560), unlawful trespass / trespassing (NRS 207.200), solicitation (NRS 201.354), sexual assault (NRS 200.366), public nuisance (NRS 202.470), and impersonation of officer (NRS 199.430). Also see our article, 3 situations where loitering is a crime.
Arrested in California? See our article on Penal Code 653b PC.
- Nevada Revised Statute 207.270 – Loitering about school or public place where children congregate.
- A Minor Girl v. Clark County Juvenile Court Servs., (1971) 87 Nev. 544, 490 P.2d 1248 (“[This statute] was designed to protect school children and young people from local and itinerant sex perverts who might loiter near schools and public places awaiting opportunity to commit their crime.” Consequently, the Nevada Supreme Court held that this law was not meant to punish a fourteen-year-old high school junior who loitered by the school after failing to follow the principal’s order to return to class. He may have broken a school rule but committed no crime.).
- NRS 207.270.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255; see also Finley v. City of Henderson (In re Finley), (Nevada Supreme Court, 2019) 457 P.3d 263, 135 Nev. Adv. Rep. 63; Washoe Cty. DA’s Office v. Second Judicial Dist. Court, (2020) 473 P.3d 1039, 136 Nev. Adv. Rep. 67.