NRS 212.140 is the Nevada law which prohibits communicating with or contacting an inmate without official permission. A conviction may carry high fines and even jail. The statute states:
Every person who, not being authorized by law or by any officer authorized thereby, shall have any verbal communication with any prisoner in any jail, prison or other penal institution, or shall bring into or convey out of the same any writing, clothing, food, tobacco or any article whatsoever, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
This page contains information about the Nevada crime of having unauthorized communications with a person in custody under NRS 212.140. Keep reading to learn the law, common defenses, and possible penalties.
Definition of unauthorized communication with Nevada inmates under NRS 212.140
The legal definition of “unauthorized communication with an inmate” in Las Vegas, Nevada, prohibits a person without official authorization from either:
- having any verbal communication with any prisoner in any jail, prison or other penal institution, or
- bringing to or taking from the prisoner any writing, clothing, food, tobacco or any other article. (NRS 212.140)
In short, it’s illegal in Nevada to make contact with or transmit articles with any person who is in custody without permission from law enforcement. Common scenarios that would subject someone to prosecution under this law include the following:
- being a spectator in a courtroom and mouthing words to an inmate
- visiting an inmate in jail and secretly slipping them a letter or candy
- walking by a jail yard and speaking through the fence to the inmate
Note that it is still a crime in Nevada to communicate with an inmate without permission even if no one meant any harm and no damage was done. Good intentions will not prevent the police from making an arrest or the D.A. from bringing charges.
Each jail and prison has guidelines for how legally to contact a person in custody through the mail or during visiting hours. For instance to learn how to communicate with someone being detained at Clark County Detention Center, go to our informational article on the Clark County Detention Center.
Defenses to Nevada charges of illegally communicating with an inmate
A basic defense to a charge of violating NRS 212.140 in Nevada is “lack of evidence.” Even if the D.A. introduces surveillance video of the alleged communication, the video is often poor quality and can be easily misinterpreted. As long as the D.A. can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect had unauthorized contact with a prisoner, the case should be thrown out.
Penalties for communicating unlawfully with a Nevada prisoner under NRS 212.140
The Las Vegas offense of making an unauthorized communication with a prisoner is sentenced as a misdemeanor in Nevada. The maximum punishment for a misdemeanor in Nevada includes:
- six months in jail, and/or
- $1,000 in fines
Depending on the circumstances the prosecutor may agree to dismiss the charge completely if the defendant pays a fine, takes an Impulse Control Counseling class and avoids further arrests during the duration of the case.
Accused of a crime? There’s help . . . .
If you’ve been arrested for talking with an inmate under NRS 212.140, phone Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys for a consultation free of charge. They may be able to get the case dropped so your record stays clean. But if necessary they’ll take your matter to trial and fight for a “not guilty” verdict.