John Meyers, a resident of Pahrump Nevada, was arrested last week. His crime? A hate crime against a black Pahrump resident in September.

According to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy was sent to investigate reports of property damage on September 1. When the deputy pulled into the complainants’ address on Pocahontas Avenue, the spotted a racial slur spray-painted in big black letters on the garage door.

While officials refused to specify the painted slur, they did announce the arrest of 73-year-old John Meyers, who is white.

Hate Crime in Nevada

Nevada follows the other states with legislation about hate crimes.

In Nevada, a crime committed against a person because of that individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, mental or physical disability or sexual orientation, is a hate crime.

Even if the attacker wrongly believes the victim is in one of these groups, the attacker can still be charged with — and prosecuted for — a hate crime.

Simply belong to a gang is not a hate crime although Nevada laws do punish some gang activity as they punish hate crimes. Schools are also given the ability under state law to prohibit gang activity by restricting gang clothing or symbols.

Nevada Punishment

While the laws in Nevada don’t specify hate crimes with specific penalties, the state does enhance the penalty for certain crimes which happened mainly because the protected status of the victim.

“Basically, that means the penalty is increased if the reason for the crime is the victim was a minority, disabled or of a different sexual orientation,” said Nicholas Wooldridge, a noted Las Vegas defense lawyer.

A hate crime enhancement may mean an increase in the category of a crime be  increased in the amount of time behind bars for conviction on such a crime.

Minor crimes which are usually punished as a misdemeanor may be an increase to a Gross Misdemeanor.

Second, serious felony crimes such as kidnapping, sexual assault or robbery will see increased penalties if the jury finds the person committed the crime because of the victim’s status as a minority.

The law makes room for the court to impose a sentence up to 25% higher than the original penalty. For example, a 10-year maximum sentence may become a 12.5 year sentence.

Death Penalty

Nevada views hate crime so seriously that a murder may become a death penalty case if the prosecution can show the murder was based on the above factors which designate a hate crime.

The Takeaway

Nevada statutes for hate crimes is codified in NRS 193.168, NRS 207.185