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Nevada Criminal Law: An Overview

While it's easy to trust your attorney to represent your case in a criminal lawsuit, it doesn't hurt to learn about the laws that affect it. By arming yourself with knowledge about your rights as a victim or a criminal and the restitution or penalties you're qualified to receive, you can keep up with new developments and confidently voice your concerns.

Use LawInfo's criminal law articles to help educate yourself about Nevada's laws and how they affect your case. You can learn about the difference between misdemeanors and felonies, intoxicated driving charges and many other state-specific criminal law topics. You can also use LawInfo to connect with a Nevada criminal law attorney in Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno or elsewhere in the state.

Sealing a Criminal Record in Nevada

A criminal conviction can affect your opportunities and liberties in life long after you've served your sentence. Nevada's criminal laws offer a solution to this issue through sealing qualified felonies and misdemeanors on your criminal record. Sealing criminal offenses removes them from public access.

Offenses like crimes against a child, sexual offenses and vehicular homicide involving intoxication are ineligible for sealing. Nevada is more lenient about sealing serious crimes like Categories A and B felonies than other states, though the requirements for sealing them are reasonably strict.

Murder vs. Manslaughter in Nevada

Nevada's criminal laws recognize a distinct difference between murder and manslaughter stemming from the killer's intentions at the time of the homicide. While both types of homicide convictions are equally serious, they are not equally penalized.

Simply put, murder is an intentional homicide while manslaughter is an unintentional (or accidental) homicide. Murder is committed with “malice aforethought,” meaning that the killer both desired to kill the victim and had planned to do so at the time of the homicide.

Manslaughter is either voluntary, which is when an unintentional homicide occurred after the killer was emotionally provoked (often called a “heat of passion” homicide) or involuntary, which is when an unintentional homicide occurred as a result of recklessness or an unlawful act.

Crime Classifications in Nevada

Every state has its own system of classifying crimes which also identifies the statutory punishments for each classification. Nevada has three main criminal offense classifications, in order of seriousness: felonies, gross misdemeanors and misdemeanors.

Felonies are the only main crime classification that has several categories. Each of these categories carries minimum and maximum penalties. Unless the statute of a specific felony offense prescribes a different sentence, the penalties for each felony category must be sentenced for every related offense. These felony categories and penalties include:

  • Category A felonies—Death (capital punishment) or life imprisonment with or without the possibility of parole.
  • Category B felonies—One to 20 years of imprisonment in a state prison.
  • Category C felonies—One to five years of imprisonment in a state prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
  • Category D felonies—One to four years of imprisonment in a state prison and up to a $5,000 fine.
  • Category E felonies—Similar penalties as those of a Category D felony but the court must suspend the imprisonment sentence's execution and grant the criminal probation, which could include serving up to one year of imprisonment in county jail.

A gross misdemeanor is penalized with up to 364 days of imprisonment in county jail and/or up to a $2,000 fine. A misdemeanor is penalized with up to six months of imprisonment in county jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.

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