One of the many effects of the Great Recession and the collapse of the housing market in Las Vegas and across the country was a flood of foreclosed homes abandoned by the families that lived there. This in turn led to a rise in people “squatting” or staying in homes they didn't own or have any permission to be in. But squatting in Las Vegas is a criminal offense.
According to one report, Las Vegas Metro Police received at least 4,458 squatter-related service calls last year, up 24 percent from 2014, 69 percent from 2013 and 169 percent from 2012.
To address this issue, Nevada passed Assembly Bill 386 in 2015. This new law created three new criminal offenses in the state of Nevada related to squatting: housebreaking, unlawful occupancy, and unlawful reentry.
NRS 205.46 provides that:
A person who forcibly enters an uninhabited or vacant dwelling, knows or has reason to believe that such entry is without permission of the owner of the dwelling or an authorized representative of the owner and has the intent to take up residence or provide a residency to another therein is guilty of housebreaking.
The first conviction under this section will be a Nevada gross misdemeanor. A second or subsequent offense is a category D felony. Additionally, a person convicted of housebreaking and who has previously been convicted three or more times of housebreaking will not be released on probation or granted a suspension of sentence.
The difference between housebreaking and unlawful occupancy is that the latter does not involve forced entry. A person who takes up residence in an uninhabited or vacant dwelling and knows or has reason to believe that such residency is without permission of the owner of the dwelling or an authorized representative of the owner is guilty of unlawful occupancy.
A person convicted of unlawful occupancy is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. A person convicted of unlawful occupancy and who has been convicted three or more times of unlawful occupancy is guilty of a category D felony.
The crime of unlawful reentry occurs when someone who has been evicted or foreclosed upon returns to the property without court authorization or the owner's permission. Unlawful reentry is a gross misdemeanor.
If you have been charged with a crime relating to squatting in Las Vegas, please give one of our experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys a call to discuss your case.