What Qualifies as a Deadly Weapon in Nevada?

Under Nevada law, conviction of any crime using a deadly weapon can lead to enhanced penalties and, for some offenses, ineligibility for probation or a suspended sentence. The implications are especially severe because state law contains a very broad definition of what qualifies a deadly weapon. Many items other than guns and knives can be deadly weapons in specific circumstances. If you face any criminal charge potentially involving use of a deadly weapon, representation by a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer is absolutely essential.

Definition of “Deadly Weapon” in Nevada Law

While Nevada law includes specific criminal offenses involving deadly weapons, such as assault with a deadly weapon, the general penalty provisions of the state criminal statutes also contain a deadly weapon provision applicable to all crimes committed in the state.

NRS 193.165 provides that if a person uses a firearm or other deadly weapon in the commission of a crime, a conviction requires the court to impose an additional term of imprisonment for a minimum of one year and a maximum of not more than 20 years. The law provides specific criteria for the court to use in determining the additional sentence. The statute further provides that a person convicted of using a firearm or other deadly weapon in committing murder, first degree kidnapping, sexual assault, or robbery is ineligible for probation or a suspended sentence. NRS 193.166 also provides for ineligibility for probation or a suspended sentence for conviction of battery with a deadly weapon.

Subsection 6 of the general law defines a “deadly weapon” as:

  • Any instrument which, if used in the ordinary manner contemplated by its design and construction, will or is likely to cause substantial bodily harm or death; or
  • Any weapon, device, instrument, material or substance which, under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing substantial bodily harm or death.

Other statutory sections referenced in the subsection also define specific items as deadly weapons for purposes of the penalty provision.

The second part of the definition is especially important. It clearly provides that any item can be deemed a deadly weapon if it is capable of causing substantial bodily harm or death when used, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used. In other words, the circumstances determine whether an item or substance qualifies as a deadly weapon. Under this provision, common everyday objects can become deadly weapons when wielded in a manner that could cause substantial bodily harm or death.

Defending Against Nevada Deadly Weapon Charges

Any criminal charge involving deadly weapon issues is extremely complex legally and factually, because of the general and specific provisions of Nevada law that apply. For example, specific laws address assault with a deadly weapon (NRS 200.471) and battery with a deadly weapon (NRS 200.481). In both cases, the classification of the charge is different when a deadly weapon is involved, and potential penalties increase significantly.

Assistance from an experienced criminal defense lawyer is imperative for any charges involving potential deadly weapon issues. The best defense strategy depends on a number of factors, including the circumstances surrounding the charges, the nature of the item, and the specific statutory sections that apply. Because resolution of deadly weapon issues in any criminal case can substantially affect the potential penalties, getting help from a lawyer at the earliest possible time is imperative.

Difference Between Deadly Weapons and Dangerous Weapons in Nevada

In addition to the numerous provisions in Nevada law relating to deadly weapons, other statutory provisions govern weapons categorized as “dangerous weapons.” The dangerous weapon provisions in state law are completely separate from the deadly weapon provisions addressed in the preceding discussion.

The Nevada dangerous weapon provisions are every bit as complex as the deadly weapon laws. While addressing the details of Nevada dangerous weapon laws is beyond the scope of this article, it is important to emphasize that the state regulates (and in some cases, prohibits) manufacture, possession, sale, and other uses of specific types of dangerous weapons. For anyone facing any type of dangerous weapon charge, legal representation is critical, just as it is for a deadly weapon charge.

Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney

No matter what type of weapons charge you face in Las Vegas, criminal defense attorney Joseph Gersten represents visitors and residents on all federal and state firearm and weapon charges in Clark County and in other Nevada jurisdictions. Contact The Gersten Law Firm to schedule your free consultation.