NRS 212.140 is the Nevada law which prohibits communicating with or contacting an inmate without official permission. This crime is a misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines.
The statute states:
NRS 212.140. 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.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What does NRS 212.140 do?
- 2. What are the best defenses?
- 3. What are the Nevada penalties for communicating with a prisoner?
1. What does NRS 212.140 do?
NRS 212.140 prohibits you from:
- 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.1
In short, it is 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 you 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, learn how to communicate with someone being detained at the Clark County Detention Center.
2. What are the best defenses?
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. cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had unauthorized contact with a prisoner, the case should be thrown out.
3. What are the Nevada penalties for communicating with a prisoner?
Making an unauthorized communication with a prisoner is a misdemeanor in Nevada. The maximum punishment includes:
- six months in jail, and/or
- $1,000 in fines.2
Depending on the circumstances, the prosecutor may agree to dismiss the charge completely if you pay a fine, take an Impulse Control Counseling class and avoid further arrests during the duration of the case.
- NRS 212.140.