In Nevada, a felony is any crime that may be punished by death or incarceration in state prison. (Misdemeanors in Nevada are less-serious crimes that carry penalties of time in county jail and/or fines.)
Nevada organizes felonies into five categories according to the seriousness of the crime and the potential punishment. The state uses “indeterminate sentencing,” meaning that for most crimes, the court sentences a convicted felon to a minimum and maximum term; the prisoner will usually be eligible for parole consideration at some point after serving the minimum term.
State law spells out the possible range of penalties for each category. However, criminal statutes for individual crimes may prescribe more specific sentences. When a defendant has been convicted of a felony, the court must choose a minimum and maximum prison term that falls within the range given in the law for that crime. The minimum term can’t be more than 40% of the maximum term. (Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 193.120, 193.130 (2020).)
Category A felonies are the most serious crimes in Nevada, punishable by death or life in prison. Examples of category A felonies and their penalties include:
(Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 193.130(2)(a), 200.030, 200.366 (2020).)
In general, the minimum prison sentence for a category B felony must be at least one year, and the maximum term may not be more than 20 years. Some specific category B felonies, along with the possible maximum sentences, include:
(Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 193.130(2)(b), 200.080, 200.380, 200.471(2)(b), 205.060 (2020).)
The standard sentence for category C felonies is a minimum prison term of at least one year and a maximum term of no more than five years. The court may also impose a fine of no more than $10,000, unless the specific criminal statute authorizes or requires a higher fine.
Examples of category C felonies (with the standard sentence) include:
(Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 193.130(2)(c), 200.485(2), 200.575(4), 205.0835, 205.220, 205.222 (2020)).
For a category D felony, the standard sentence is a minimum term of at least a year and a maximum term of no more than four years. The court may also fine the defendant up to $5,000 (unless the relevant criminal statute requires or allows a higher fine).
The following examples of category D felonies all carry the standard sentence:
(Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 193.130(2)(d), 200.090, 200.359, 200.770, 200.780 (2020).)
Category E felonies in Nevada carry a prison sentence with a minimum term of at least one year and a maximum term of no more than four years. With a few exceptions, however, the court must suspend that prison sentence and grant the convicted defendant probation; the conditions of probation may include requiring the defendant to serve up to a year in county jail. In addition, the court may fine the defendant up to $5,000 (unless the specific criminal statute requires or authorizes a higher fine).
The following examples of category E felonies carry the standard sentence:
(Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 207.204, 207.245, 453.336, 454.311 (2020).)
Nevada law also provides for additional prison sentences—on top of the sentence for the crime itself—under some circumstances, including when a felony is committed:
The additional sentence must be served consecutively with the original sentence for the felony. (Nev. Rev. Stat. 193.161, 193.166, 193.167 (2020).)
A few of Nevada’s criminal laws—such as a first offense of elder abuse and attempting to commit certain lower-level felonies—provide for punishment as either a felony or a gross misdemeanor. At the sentencing phase for one of these crimes (often referred to as “wobblers”), the court will decide whether to treat the crime as a gross misdemeanor or a felony. (Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 193.330, 200.5099 (2020).)
Prosecutors generally must bring criminal charges within a certain period of time (known as a “statute of limitations”) after the alleged crime took place. The statute of limitations in Nevada for most felonies is either three or four years. However, there’s no limit on when murder charges may be filed, and prosecutors may bring sexual assault charges within 20 years after the alleged rape.
Certain events will “stop the clock” (known as tolling in legalese) or extend the statute of limitations, including when a sexual assault victim files a report with law enforcement or while a victim of child sexual abuse is under a certain age. (Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 171.080, 171.083, 171.085 (2020).)
Having a felony conviction on your criminal record can have serious, long-term consequences, including making it hard to get a job or housing and being barred under federal law from possessing guns. If you’re facing felony charges, it’s critical that you speak with a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can defend your rights throughout criminal proceedings and help obtain the best possible outcome—which may include negotiating a favorable plea bargain.
Look Out for Legal Changes
State legislatures can change their laws at any time. If you want to check the current version of any statute discussed in this article, you can find it through the Library of Congress’s Guide to Law Online. You should know, however, that court decisions may affect how laws are interpreted—another good reason to consult with a lawyer if you’re concerned about actual or potential criminal charges.