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Charges For Owning An Aggressive Dog In Nevada

Owning or Keeping Aggressive Dogs in Nevada

According to Nevada Revised Statute section 200.260, there are specific circumstances under which an animal owner involved in a fatal incident can face manslaughter charges. If your pet is involved in a fatal incident, it’s crucial to promptly seek guidance from a skilled Las Vegas criminal defense attorney.

Spartacus Criminal Defense Lawyers offers support in assessing the prosecution’s case and strategizing on potential defenses or negotiating plea deals to reduce penalties. Whether aiming for acquittal or favorable plea terms, our team is here to assist. Reach out to us early on in your legal matter for expert help. Contact our skilled Las Vegas criminal defense attorney today for immediate assistance and to learn more about how we can help.

Manslaughter Charges For An Owner Of An Animal That Kills A Human Being (NRS 200.240)

Under Nevada Revised Statute section 200.240, the owner or custodian of an animal that causes a person’s death may face criminal charges if the animal is deemed vicious and dangerous. To be prosecuted under NRS 200.240, the owner must have been aware of the animal’s violent tendencies and allowed it to roam freely despite the risks.

For charges to be brought against the owner, the at-large animal must be responsible for the death of an innocent person. Should the prosecutor successfully establish these elements of the crime, demonstrating that the owner knowingly or negligently allowed the animal to be unrestrained despite the known dangers, the animal’s owner could be charged with manslaughter.

In such circumstances, manslaughter is categorized as a Category D felony, carrying potential prison time and a felony conviction. A Category D felony typically entails imprisonment for a minimum of one year and a maximum of four years, with the possibility of a fine of up to $5,000.

NRS § 202.500 in Nevada law prohibits individuals from owning or transferring ownership of a “vicious” dog. The statute defines a dog as “vicious” if:

  • Without being provoked, it killed or inflicted substantial bodily harm upon a human being; or
  • After its owner or keeper had been notified by a law enforcement agency that the dog is dangerous, the dog continued the behavior.

Possessing or rehoming an aggressive dog in Nevada constitutes a misdemeanor if no serious injuries occur. The associated penalty is:

  • Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • Up to $1,000 in fines

If a dog attack causes the victim to suffer substantial bodily harm, it constitutes a violation under NRS 202.500, classified as a category D felony. The corresponding punishment includes:

  • 1 – 4 years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • Possibly up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge’s discretion), and
  • The animal may be put down

At Spartacus Criminal Defense Lawyers, we will strive to protect you and the dog and seek to have these charges lessened or dismissed. Possible defenses against NRS 202.500 accusations include:

  1. The defendant lacked intent;
  2. The defendant was unaware of the animal’s aggressive nature;
  3. The defendant relinquished the animal within 7 days of being informed;
  4. The animal is not legally deemed “vicious”;
  5. The animal received the vicious classification based solely on its breed; or
  6. The animal was instigated, tormented, or subjected to torture.

Penalties For Having An Aggressive Dog In Nevada

Keeping or transferring a vicious dog, as outlined in NRS 202.500, is considered a misdemeanor as long as there is no harm caused. The potential penalty for this offense is:

  • Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • Up to $1,000 in fines.

Nevertheless, breaching NRS 202.500 escalates to a category D felony if the dog inflicts significant bodily harm during an attack. The ensuing consequences consist of:

  • 1 – 4 years in prison,
  • A possible fine of up to $5,000 (at the judge’s discretion), and
  • The judge may order that the canine be put down

Defenses To Harboring An Aggressive Dog In Nevada

Defending against charges of owning or transferring a dangerous dog in Nevada could involve the following arguments:

  1. The defendant’s actions were not intentional;
  2. The defendant was unaware that the animal was vicious;
  3. The defendant relinquished the animal within 7 days of becoming aware;
  4. The animal is not a threat or aggressive;
  5. The animal’s misclassification was due to its breed; and/or
  6. The animal’s misclassification resulted from provocation

The defendant’s actions were not intentional

In order for someone to be charged with harboring an aggressive dog in Nevada, their actions must be intentional. This means that if the defendant can prove that they had no intention of possessing or transferring a dangerous animal, they may have a strong defense against the charges.

The defendant was unaware that the animal was vicious

A defendant cannot be held responsible for breaking NRS 202.500 if they were not informed that the animal was dangerous. This notification, known as actual notice, can come in different forms, such as:

  • A letter or phone call from the police;
  • Witnessing the animal seriously attacking a victim; and/or
  • Seeing a police report of the attack

The defendant relinquished the animal within 7 days of becoming aware

A violation of NRS 202.500 occurs when someone knowingly owns or harbors a vicious dog for more than seven days after receiving explicit notice of the animal’s vicious behavior. Should the defendant demonstrate that the dog was euthanized or surrendered to the authorities within this timeframe, the prosecutor is expected to drop the charges.

The animal is not a threat or aggressive

Determining whether a dog caused significant harm to another person can be a matter of interpretation. It is also possible that the authorities misidentified the aggressive dog. Unless the prosecution can unequivocally demonstrate that the dog in question fits Nevada’s legal criteria for being “vicious,” the charge under NRS 202.500 ought to be dismissed.

The animal’s misclassification resulted from provocation

Just as humans may defend themselves in Nevada, dogs have the same capacity. If it can be proven that a dog’s actions were provoked by someone, charges under NRS 202.500 would not be relevant.

The animal’s misclassification was due to its breed

NRS 202.500 explicitly prohibits classifying dogs as vicious solely based on their breed. If the defendant can demonstrate that discrimination is solely due to the breed of the canine in question and not its behavior, the charges should be dismissed. Breeds commonly associated with being perceived as dangerous are:

  • Pit bulls
  • Dobermans
  • German Shepherds
  • Rottweilers
  • Huskys

“Dangerous” Dog Breeds Wrongfully Accused of Biting

Certain dog breeds have a reputation for being dangerous. Whether due to their appearance or their bite force, these dog breeds are often wrongfully judged and accused of damage that may have never occurred. The most common dog breed that fits this description is the pit bull breed. To learn more about the dog breeds with the strongest bite force and that are frequently misjudged, click the article below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Immigration Consequences For Owning A Dangerous Dog In Nevada?

Non-citizens convicted of violating NRS 202.500 as a misdemeanor likely won’t be subjected to deportation proceedings. However, if the conviction is for a Nevada felony, the outcome becomes much less certain. Any documented alien facing criminal charges in Nevada should promptly seek proficient legal advice. If your attorney can have the charges dismissed or reduced to a non-deportable offense, the case should not jeopardize the immigrant’s residency status.

Can My Record Be Sealed After Being Charged With Owning A Dangerous Dog?

Individuals convicted under NRS 202.500 as a misdemeanor can request the court for a record seal one year following the case’s conclusion. However, if the conviction was for a category D felony, the waiting period is extended to either:

  • 10 years after the case ends if the court considers the NRS 202.500 violation to be a “felony crime of violence”; or
  • 5 years after the case ends if the court does not consider the NRS 202.500 violation to be a “felony crime of violence”

What Are The Dog Leash Laws & Penalties In Nevada?

Typically, dogs in Nevada must be leashed when in public areas, with exceptions for dog parks and some rural regions. Even in HOA communities, including ungated ones, leashes are mandatory once the dog steps into shared spaces like sidewalks. Even hunting with unrestrained dogs is prohibited in Nevada if the dog is chasing:

  • Big game mammals (other than mountain lions); or
  • Any wildlife in a state-owned wildlife management area

What Is Nevada’s “One Bite” Rule?

In Nevada, owners are not automatically held liable if their dog bites someone for the first time. However, once a dog has bitten someone in Las Vegas, it is classified as either “dangerous” or “vicious.”

Understanding the distinction between dangerous and vicious is crucial. This classification dictates the owner’s liability for future bites and potential criminal charges.

It is important to note that Nevada law typically mandates reporting dog bites to the local Health Officer or Animal Control Officer. This reporting responsibility applies to both owners and individuals who have been bitten. Following the report, Animal Control is required to quarantine the dog for 10 days to assess it for rabies.

Contact Our Las Vegas Dog Bite Defense Lawyer Today

If you or your dog has been involved in a bite incident, it is crucial to seek counsel from an experienced Las Vegas dog bite defense lawyer. Even if the victim does not want to prosecute, Animal Control has the authority to pursue charges.

At Spartacus Criminal Defense Lawyers, we understand what steps must be taken to minimize these consequences. We are dedicated to protecting your rights and ensuring that you and your furry friend. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with our legal team.

Last Modified: March 7, 2024
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