While misdemeanor level crimes may be the least consequential types of crimes prosecuted in the state of Nevada, this does not mean that being charged with a misdemeanor should be taken lightly. It is always in the best interest of anyone who has been charged with a misdemeanor to find an attorney who has experience in the defense of these crimes. An experienced attorney may be able to negotiate a lesser penalty for a first or second time offense.
The Three Levels of Crime in Nevada
Nevada recognizes three different levels of criminal charges:
Felony charges are the most serious type of criminal charge. The sentencing for a felony conviction can range from a minimum of one year in state or federal prison to the death penalty. In some cases, felony charges can be reduced to misdemeanor charges through a plea bargain.
● Gross Misdemeanor
Charges at this level are much less serious than felonies but more serious than misdemeanors. Sentencing can include up to a year in jail and fines.
This is the least serious criminal charge, with a typical sentence of six months in jail and fines.
Understanding the Differences Between Misdemeanors and Gross Misdemeanors
While either of these two charges are generally considered to be relatively minor crimes, particularly in comparison to the serious penalties associated with felony charges, there are a few significant differences between them. These differences, which include the standard sentences, trial options, and the amount of time that must pass before it’s possible to have the record of either charge sealed are outlined below.
A misdemeanor is the least serious criminal charge in Nevada and also the most common. Some examples of misdemeanor crimes include the following:
● Shoplifting (with a total value of less than $650)
● Traffic tickets
● Breach of peace
● DUI (first or second offense, with no one involved sustaining injury)
● Battery domestic violence (first or second offense, with no one involved sustaining injury, and no involvement of a deadly weapon or strangulation)
Misdemeanors are further classified in Nevada into three classes of severity, with Class 1 being the most serious and Class 3 being the least.
Trial Options for a Misdemeanor Charge
Many people are not aware that when they have been charged with a misdemeanor, they will not have the right to be tried by a jury. Misdemeanors are tried and determined entirely by a judge in what is known as a bench trial. This is due to the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which specifies that the right to be tried by a jury applies only to defendants who are facing a period of jail time longer than six months. Because the maximum jail time for a misdemeanor is six months, a trial by jury is not an option.
Penalties for a Misdemeanor Conviction
The standard sentence for a misdemeanor conviction is as follows:
● Up to six months in city or county jail
● Up to $1,000 in possible fines
If this is the first or second misdemeanor charge for the defendant in question, the prosecution may be more open to negotiations that would allow the offender to avoid spending any time in jail.
Record Sealing Waiting Period for Misdemeanor Convictions
In most cases, the records of a misdemeanor conviction can be sealed after the required waiting period has passed. While many crimes only require a waiting period of one year, there are others that require a longer time.
● Misdemeanors With a 2 Year Waiting Period include stalking and harassment, as well as violating a temporary or extended protection order that was issued for stalking or harassment, and battery.
● Misdemeanors With a 7 Year Waiting Period include battery domestic violence and DUIs.
The second most serious criminal charge in Nevada is the charge of gross misdemeanor. Common examples include the following:
● Indecent exposure (first offense)
● Open or gross lewdness (first offense)
● Stalking (second or further offense)
● Unlawfully using a hotel key
Trial Options for a Gross Misdemeanor Charge
Unlike the limitation placed on misdemeanor charges regarding the right to a trial by jury, a gross misdemeanor charge does qualify for a trial by jury. This is because the penalty for a gross misdemeanor surpasses the six month minimum jail time that is required to be eligible for a trial by jury, per the Sixth Amendment.
Penalties for a Gross Misdemeanor Conviction
Gross misdemeanors will have a slightly more severe penalty upon conviction than a regular misdemeanor. The standard penalties for gross misdemeanor crimes are as follows:
● Up to one year in city or county jail (364 days)
● Up to $2,000 in possible fines
It’s not uncommon for charges at this level to be reduced down to the lesser offense of a simple misdemeanor if the evidence presented by the prosecution is determined to be lacking.
Record Sealing Waiting Period for Gross Misdemeanor Convictions
In many cases, the records for gross misdemeanor convictions can be sealed after two years have passed and the court has approved a petition to seal the record. There are, however, some crimes that are never approved to be sealed – these are crimes against children and sex crimes.
If you or someone that you care about has been charged with either a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor charge, it’s important that the charge is taken seriously. While these charges are typically considered to be minor in terms of the penalties associated with them, some misdemeanor crimes, such as battery and DUIs, are subject to progressive sentencing, which means that multiple charges of a misdemeanor level can add up to a felony. This progressive effect can sometimes be avoided by an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in handling misdemeanor charges, which can often be reduced to lesser offenses. If you would like to speak to someone about your case, we invite you to contact our office today. We offer free case evaluations and may be able to help.