Important New Changes to Nevada’s Criminal Laws

The Nevada Legislature meets in Carson City every two years to change or make new laws for our State. In 2019, the Nevada Legislature passed, and the Governor signed into law, Assembly Bill 236. This large criminal justice reform bill makes several and important changes to various aspects of Nevada’s criminal laws. However, although passed in 2019, the Legislature did not make the changes effective until July 1, 2020. Therefore many of these critical changes have gone unnoticed by not only practicing lawyers, but by the Judges themselves.

Because there are so many changes to Nevada’s criminal law made by the 157-page Assembly Bill, we will use the next several Blogs to discuss each significant change. Today, we tackle the changes made to Nevada’s Burglary statute, NRS 205.060.

Prior to taking effect on July 1, 2020, Nevada punished all burglaries–whether of a house, car, business, boat, or tool shed–the same. Unless a weapon was used or obtained during the burglary, a person convicted of burglary would face a Category B Felony and possible punishment of anywhere between 1 to 10 years in prison if probation wasn’t granted. Now, a person’s possible punishment for burglary depends on what specifically was burglarized: A residence, car, business structure, or some other non-residential/car/business structure?

Here is a brief overview of the punishments under the new Burglary statute:

  1. Burglary-Residence: category B Felony, punishable by 1-10 years in prison if probation is not granted.
  2. Burglary-Business Structure: category C Felony, punishable by 1 -5 years in prison if probation is not granted.
  3. Burglary-Motor Vehicle: For the first offense, category E Felony, punishable 1-4 years in prison if probation is not granted; for a second or subsequent offense, category D Felony, punishable by 1-4 years in prison if probation is not granted.
  4. Burglary- Any Other Structure: category D Felony, punishable by 1-4 years in prison if probation is not granted.

An important addition to the Burglary statute that shouldn’t go unnoticed is the following sentence involving Residential Burglary: “If mitigating circumstances exist, a person who is convicted of residential burglary may be released on probation and granted a suspension of sentence if the person has not previously been convicted of residential burglary or another crime involving the unlawful entry or invasion of a dwelling.” NRS 205.060(3). This new language infers that a person is NOT eligible for probation, even for a first time offense, unless “mitigating circumstances exist.” Before July 1, 2020, if a person did not have any prior burglary or burglary-type conviction, the person was automatically eligible for probation. Apparently, this is not the case anymore.

If you are considering hiring a criminal defense attorney for your case, it is of the utmost importance that the lawyer be well informed about new changes to the law. You certainly cannot count on the prosecutor or the Judge to always know about these changes, which could help your case. At the Nobles & Yanez Law Firm, we pride ourselves in staying on top of new changes and trends in the law that can benefit our clients.

Be on the look out for future Blogs discussing other changes made by Assembly Bill 236.