In Nevada, firing a gun in public can be a serious criminal offense, even if the shooter intended no harm and no one is injured. Below are four separate offenses related to discharging (or firing) a weapon.
Under NRS 202.280, firing a gun in a public street or place of public resort is a crime if it is done "maliciously, wantonly or negligently." It is unlawful to fire a gun, according to the statute, in a public street, theater, store, hotel, saloon, or any other "place of public resort." Firing a weapon in public is a crime even if no one is injured. Anyone who violates NRS 202.280 is guilty of a misdemeanor, which is punishable by a maximum of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. However, the accused may be subject to harsher penalties if another criminal statute applies.
For instance, under NRS 202.290, it is a crime to discharge a firearm "in a public place or in any place where any person might be endangered thereby." This statute is very similar to NRS 202.280 and would apply to many of the same instances. However, NRS 202.290 provides for a harsher penalty. Whereas a violation of NRS 202.280 is a misdemeanor, a violation of NRS 202.290 is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in county jail.
Under NRS 202.285, firing a gun at or into any building or vehicle is a category B felony if it is done both "willfully and maliciously." Something done "willfully" is something done intentionally. NRS 193.0175 defines "maliciously." According to NRS 193.0175, the term "maliciously" suggests "an evil intent, wish or design to vex, annoy or injure another person." Malice "may be inferred from an act done in willful disregard of the rights of another, or an act wrongfully done without just cause or excuse, or an act or omission of duty betraying a willful disregard of social duty." Anyone convicted under this statute may be sentenced to 1 to 6 years in a Nevada prison, and may additionally be fined $5,000.
Under NRS 202.287, firing a gun within or from a building or vehicle is a crime if it is done either "maliciously or wantonly." "Maliciously" is defined more fully above, and implies an evil intent. "Wanton" implies a reckless disregard for the consequences of one's actions. It is a level of culpability higher than gross negligence. Note that the act can be either wanton or malicious, and does not need to be both.
The possible punishment for this offense varies greatly depending upon whether the firearm is discharged in an area "designated by city or county ordinance as a populated area for the purpose of prohibiting the discharge of weapons." If the weapon is discharged outside of a populated area, the charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum jail sentence of 6 months and a fine of $1,000. If the weapon is discharged in a populated area, the offense is a category B felony punishable by 2 to 15 years in Nevada state prison and a $5,000 fine.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with any of the above offenses, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. To obtain a conviction for any crime, the prosecutor must prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But even where the evidence against the accused is strong, it is possible to negotiate a favorable deal and avoid harsh criminal penalties. Call me now for a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.
By Michael Pandullo