5 Common Reasons for Las Vegas Visitor Arrests

Las Vegas fully lives up to its reputation as a place where you literally can party around the clock. But the slogan “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” only holds true to a certain extent. If your partying goes too far and gets you arrested, what happens in Las Vegas can follow you home. Being familiar with these five (5) common reasons for Las Vegas visitor arrests, will help you avoid having criminal charges ruin your trip and impact your life even after you get home.

#1. Marijuana Possession and Use Violations

For more than a year now, it has been legal to buy marijuana in Las Vegas. Some reports estimate that more than a million dollars’ worth of marijuana is sold to Nevada residents and visitors each month.

Visitors in particular need to be aware that there are still significant limitations on possessing and using marijuana in Nevada, including in Las Vegas. While you can buy marijuana, it is a felony to possess more than an ounce. You won’t get arrested if you only have an ounce (or less), but you can be arrested if you get caught with more than an ounce. In addition, it’s a federal crime to possess any marijuana on a plane and to transport it across state lines. Don’t expect to be able to stock up on marijuana in Las Vegas and take a stash home with you.

Just as importantly, while you can buy marijuana in Las Vegas, public consumption of your purchase is illegal. If you’re arrested for using marijuana in public, you can be charged with a misdemeanor that can result in a $600 fine and a drug conviction on your record.

The prohibition on public use of marijuana extends to open places like streets and parks, casinos and hotels, business establishments (including those that sell marijuana), and moving vehicles (your own or rented). If you do buy marijuana, be very discreet in using it to avoid being arrested for public consumption.

Since you cannot use marijuana in public, edibles are a popular form for purchase, especially for Las Vegas visitors. But using edibles warrants caution, especially if it’s your first time trying them. Information about using edibles and more details about Nevada’s marijuana laws are included in our blog post on Recreational Marijuana in Las Vegas.

One more caution about marijuana use: Even though you can purchase marijuana in Nevada, it’s a criminal offense to drive under the influence of drugs, just as it is to drive under the influence of alcohol. If you’re enjoying marijuana while you’re here, please let someone else do the driving.

Finally, Las Vegas law enforcement officers also vigorously enforce Nevada’s laws against possession and use of other drugs. Buying and using any illegal drugs can get you arrested for a number of different criminal drug offenses.

#2. Solicitation of Prostitution

Visitors to Las Vegas often do not realize that prostitution is illegal throughout Clark County. Not only is prostitution itself prohibited, but soliciting prostitution is also criminal offenses. Las Vegas law enforcement actively targets illegal prostitution activities.

Officers arrest not only the prostitutes but also their clients. You can be charged with solicitation even is no money is exchanged or the sexual activity does not occur. The conduct of attempting to arrange an exchange of money for sex can be prosecuted as solicitation.

A solicitation charge is a serious offense. It can constitute a felony if you solicit a person under the age of eighteen (18) years. Heavy fines and prison time can be imposed as penalties.

#3. Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct criminal charges (also referred to as breach of peace or disturbing the peace) are a common basis for arrest of tourists and visitors. The charges often arise from situations at pool parties, bars, and nightclubs.

There are specific state laws that constitute crimes against the public peace. Clark County also has a disorderly conduct ordinance that makes it illegal to fight, cause a disturbance, or commit a breach of the peace. Conduct that leads to state and local charges often involves specific types of disturbances, such as public drunkenness, fighting in public, threatening another person, disturbing other people, or being loud and boisterous.

Additional detailed information is included in our blog post focusing on Las Vegas disorderly conduct charges.

#4. Open and Gross Lewdness

The scene at Las Vegas pool parties, nightclubs, strip clubs, and bars can get pretty wild and intense. Sometimes, the partying can go a little too far. In Nevada, there is a statutory crime called open and gross lewdness that can come into play. The charges are extremely serious and can carry severe penalties and consequences.

As defined in the law, open and gross lewdness includes sexual acts in public or in private where others can see. It also includes non-consensual sexual conduct that falls short of sexual assault (rape) and often is charged in conjunction with other crimes, such as indecent exposure.

Open and gross lewdness is a sex crime under Nevada law. A person convicted of the crime (which includes pleading guilty) is required to register as a sex offender. The repercussions can impact your life significantly, even well beyond the penalties and the fact that you will have a criminal record.

Especially when you are partying with people you do not know, it’s important to be aware that your conduct can cross a line and get to the point where it constitutes a crime. Pool parties and nightclubs are frequented by undercover police officers, and they will arrest visitors who cross that line.

#5. Casino Markers

Although a casino marker isn't likely to get you arrested while you're in Las Vegas, failing to repay a marker can cause serious problems after you return home. If gambling is in your plans, be sure you understand how casino markers work and what can happen if you give a marker to a casino.

When you’re on a roll — or trying to recoup losses — filling out a form to instantly get more money to gamble is an easy way to extend your time at the tables or slots. You may think that a marker is like a credit card or line of credit, but under Nevada law, markers are treated as personal checks.

Casinos can use the state’s bad check laws to prosecute an unpaid marker. Nonpayment of a marker is treated as a form of fraud. If you ignore the efforts to collect on the marker, you can face felony charges. A warrant for your arrest will be issued. If you travel internationally, you may even be extradited to Nevada.

The penalty charge for a single unpaid marker can include up to a year in prison and a fine of as much as $10,000. Casino markers are serious business in Las Vegas. Failing to pay one can have severe long-term impacts on your life.

Talk With an Experienced Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney for Tourist and Visitor Arrests

If you’ve been charged with a crime during your visit to Las Vegas, trusted tourist and visitor criminal defense attorney Joseph Gersten is here to help and will apply his extensive experience in state and federal criminal cases in aggressively defending you. At The Gersten Law Firm, your initial consultation and case evaluation is free of charge.

Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Joseph Gersten has extensive experience defending Las Vegas visitors and tourists facing federal and state criminal charges. If you’ve been arrested in Las Vegas or anywhere else in Clark County, contact Attorney Gersten to schedule a free consultation.