Most everyone has seen television shows where exhibition of skill in knife throwing or bow and arrow is done by throwing knives or shooting an arrow in the direction of a person with the intent to miss the person and/or hit an object in close proximity to the person. These exhibitions are clearly dangerous, and as a result, they have been outlawed in Nevada.

What are the laws that regulate Dangerous Exhibitions?

The laws relating to the dangerous exhibitions are governed by NRS 202.540.

NRS 202.540 – Dangerous exhibitions.

Every proprietor, lessee or occupant of any place of amusement, plat of ground or building, who shall allow it to be used for an exhibition of skill in throwing any sharp instrument or in shooting any bow gun, pistol or firearm of any description, at or toward any human being, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

What is a “Dangerous Exhibition”?

“Dangerous Exhibition” is the way the law describes a very well-known circus side-show, where one person throws knives or other sharp instrument or weapon in the direction of another person, with the specific intent of barely missing the targeted person.

It also refers to exhibitions of skill similar to that of William Tell, where, instead of throwing knives, the first person shoots a bow or firearm in the direction of the targeted person.

In other words, anyone who projects a weapon or sharp object in the direction of another, even if the intent is to miss the other person, is still putting the targeted person in danger of serious bodily harm or even death.

What is important to understand is that NRS 202.540 does not criminalize the act of participating in the Dangerous Exhibition. It criminalizes only the landowner or proprietor of the building where the exhibition takes place.

What are the possible penalties?

Violations NRS 202.540 are misdemeanors, carrying possible penalties of:

  • Up to 6 months in prison; and
  • Possible fines up to $1,000.

Are there any Defenses?

Yes, of course there are. The defenses are extremely fact-specific, but some of the possible defenses include:

  • Not a Knife or sharp object – Obviously, if the thrower is using rubber knives, or some other object which cannot cause grievous bodily injury or death, then there has been no violation of NRS 202.540. If you or your attorney can show that the objects being thrown were not sharp, and were not dangerous, then the charges against you should be dropped or dismissed.
  • Firing blanks – Similarly, if you or your attorney can prove that the bow or firearm that was being used in the Dangerous Exhibition was firing blanks or rubber tipped arrows, thereby creating no danger to the targeted person, then the charges against you should be dropped or dismissed.
  • No Knowledge – NRS 202.540 specifically criminalizes allowing the land or property to be used for a “Dangerous Exhibition.” If the land owner or proprietor has no knowledge that such an exhibition is taking place on or in their property, then they could not have “allowed,” it to occur. Therefore, if the prosecutor cannot show that the landowner or proprietor had knowledge of the “Dangerous Exhibition” and allowed it to continue or occur, then the charges against you should be dropped or dismissed.
  • Lack of Evidence – As with any crime, the prosecution bears the burden of proving every element of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is not enough evidence to uphold this high level of proof, then the charges should be dropped or dismissed.

What should I do if I’ve been charged with allowing a “Dangerous Exhibition”?

As with any crime, it is very important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can discuss the specific circumstances as well as any defenses that may apply to your case.

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