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NRS 199.480 - "Conspiracy" Charges in Nevada

Las Vegas Criminal Defense Law Firm Explains the Criminal Charge of Conspiracy.

What is Conspiracy?

You are probably here because you are wondering what is Conspiracy in Nevada? Nevada’s Conspiracy law is defined in the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS 199.480), and is more strict than its federal counterpart. The common law definition is rather simple: conspiracy is an agreement made between two or more people for any unlawful purpose. What this means is any agreement made to commit a crime is a crime in and of itself, whether or not any actual crime ever takes place. Further, the prosecution can charge someone for conspiracy without any evidence of the agreement itself. This means that even though the prosecutor might not have any evidence of a written or verbal agreement, you can still be charged with conspiracy based on circumstancial evidence such as records of telephone calls and text messages, video footage of coordinated actions between people at the scene of a crime, or even simple hand or head gestures around the time a crime is being committed.

As if to compound the District Attorney’s power, Nevada does not require there to be more than one person being criminally charged with conspiracy. The DA may choose to prosecute only one person with the crime, and can even choose to prosecute someone who had only a minor role in the overall conspiracy. Also, unlike federal law, Nevada prosecutors are specifically allowed to prosecute people for conspiracy whether or not any “overt act” has been made in furtherance of the crime agreed upon in the conspiracy. Technically, the crime of conspiracy has been committed as soon as the agreement has been made, even if the parties change their mind before taking any steps toward committing the crime. This means it is actually easier for a prosecutor to convict someone of conspiracy in a Nevada state court then it is in a Nevada federal court.

What are the Punishments for Conspiracy in Nevada?

The penalties for conspiracy in Nevada are defined by NRS 199.480, and vary based on the type of crime the parties intended to commit. The penalties can range from a Gross Misdemeanor up to a Category B Felony.

Conspiracy to commit racketeering in Nevada is a Category B felony and the sentence range is between 5 and 20 years in prison.

Conspiracy to commit murder in Nevada is a Category B felony and the sentence range is between 2 and 10 years in prison.

Conspiracy to commit robbery, sexual assault, and kidnapping and arson in first or second degree, are all category B felonies, punishable by between 1 and 6 years in prison.

Conspiracy to commit any other crimes in Nevada are gross misdemeanors, and punishable by up to 1 year in the Clark County Detention Center and up to $2,000.00 in fines.

What are the Defenses to Conspiracy?

The good news is that Nevada Courts have routinely held that simply having knowledge that a conspiracy exists, or even being present when others conspire to commit a crime around you, is NOT a violation of Nevada’s conspiracy laws. In addition, the prosecution still has the burden of proving every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. As an “agreement” is a rather nebulous concept, various defenses can come into play whenever someone is charged with conspiracy.

  • No Agreement was made. It is not a violation of the conspiracy statute to merely discuss committing a crime, as long as no agreement was made to actually commit one.
  • Lack of intent. Merely speaking words of agreement to commit a crime is not a violation of the conspiracy statute. For example, an undercover police officer may speak words that indicate an agreement to commit a crime in a sting operation, but as the officer never intended to enter into a criminal agreement, he did not commit conspiracy. Likewise, if friends speak words in jest such as “Who wants to rob a bank?” and “I’m in!”, the criminal charge of conspiracy would not apply as long as there was no general intent to break the law.
  • Lack of evidence. Even if the state has enough evidence to show that it is more likely than not that a person has committed conspiracy, it is not enough to convict. The prosecutor must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was committed, which is a very high burden of proof.
  • Evidence is inadmissible. If the evidence that the prosecution wants to use to convict someone was obtained through an illegal search and seizure by law enforcement, a criminal defense attorney in Nevada can argue to the judge that the evidence should be thrown out. If the Las Vegas court agrees with the defense lawyer, the evidence will be suppressed and the prosecutor may not have enough evidence left to convict the accused.

What to Do if You Are Charged with Criminal Conspiracy in Nevada

If you have been charged with criminal conspiracy in Nevada, you need the representation of an experienced, aggressive criminal defense lawyer. The Las Vegas law firm of Boley & AlDabbagh represents people being criminally charged with conspiracy, and offer free consultations.