DRAWING WEAPON IN A THREATENING MANNER
The dangerous nature of guns and other firearms have brought about a myriad of laws relating to the possession and/or use of firearm. They have also created variations of defenses. For example, self-defense can often be claimed, but only so long as the force used was directly in proportion to the amount of forced being defended against. Consequently, using a gun for self-defense is generally considered deadly force, and can only be used if the other person is also using deadly force. Because of this specific aspect of self-defense, the simple drawing of a gun or other deadly weapon in a threatening manner in its own right because it may bring about self-defense in a proportionate degree. Convictions for drawing a deadly weapon in a threatening manner are severe and include jail time and harsh fines.
What is the legal definition of drawing a deadly weapon in a threatening manner?
The laws relating to removing or changing the serial number on a weapon are governed by NRS 202.253, 202.320.
NRS 202.253 – Definitions.
As used in NRS 202.253 to 202.369, inclusive:
- “Explosive of incendiary device” means any explosive or incendiary device material or substance that has been constructed, altered, packaged or arranged in such a manner that its ordinary use would cause destruction or injury to life or property.
- “Firearm” means any device designed to be used as a weapon from which a projectile may be expelled through the barrel by the force of any explosion or other form of combustion.
- “Firearm capable of being concealed upon the person” applies to and includes all firearms having a barrel less than 12 inches in length.
- “Motor vehicle” means every vehicle that is self-propelled.
NRS 202.320 – Drawing deadly weapon in a threatening manner.
- Except as otherwise provided in NRS 202.287, a person having, carrying or procuring from another person any dirk, dirk-knife, sword, sword cane, pistol, gun or other deadly weapon, who, in the presence of two or more person, draws or exhibits any of such deadly weapons in a rude, angry or threatening manner not in necessary self-defense, or who in any manner unlawfully uses that weapon in any fight or quarrel, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
- A sheriff, deputy sheriff, marshal, constable or other peace officer shall not be held to answer, under the provisions of subsection 1, for drawing or exhibiting any of the weapons mentioned therein while in the lawful discharge of his or her duties.
What is the point of including the “in a threatening manner” language?
Essentially, this statute is in place to criminalize the use of a deadly weapon, even if it is only being used to scare the other person. If the statute didn’t include the language for “in a threatening manner,” then anytime someone was holding a deadly weapon, they would be in violation of NRS 202.320. By including that language, the law makers are attempting to criminalize only the use of a deadly weapon as a threat.
Please Note: this statute is meant to criminalize only threatening with a deadly weapon, the actual use of a deadly weapon is a separate crime, which may be charged along with the crime of drawing a weapon in a threatening manner.
Isn’t that the same thing as assault, or assault with a deadly weapon?
Not quite. The two are very similar, but there are some noticeable differences. The main differences include:
- Fear of imminent harm – ‘Assault’ requires that the victim “fear imminent bodily harm.” In other words, the victim must have actually been afraid that they may be injured by the other person. ‘Brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner’, on the other hand, has no such requirement. As an example, if you were to draw a weapon during a confrontation with two people, and one of the got scared and ran away, while the other never felt any fear that you would use the weapon, then you could be charged with ‘Assault with a deadly weapon’ for drawing the weapon on the first person, but only for ‘drawing a deadly weapon in a threatening manner’ for drawing against the second victim.
- Actual use of the weapon – ‘Drawing a deadly weapon in a threatening manner’ obviously requires that the weapon is used in a threatening manner. ‘Assault with a deadly weapon,’ on the other hand, requires only that the weapon be nearby, or within reach, at the time of the assault. Simple ‘assault’ does not require any weapon be present at the time of the assault.
- Inherent nature of the weapon – ‘Assault with a deadly weapon’ requires only that the “weapon” be able to kill at the time of the assault. In other words, a lamp can still be a “deadly weapon” because it could be used to bludgeon someone. ‘Drawing a weapon in a threatening manner’ on the other hand, requires that the “weapon” be deadly by nature, such as a knife or gun.
- Number of people present – ‘Assault with a deadly weapon’ requires only the perpetrator and the victim be present for the crime to occur. However, ‘drawing or brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner’ requires at least one other witness to view the crime.
Please Note: ‘Drawing or brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner’ is essentially a lesser included offense of ‘assault with a deadly weapon.’ This means that they require many of the same elements, but that ‘assault with a deadly weapon’ requires more circumstances in order for a conviction. It also means that you cannot be convicted of both crimes for the same act. (note that in the above example, there were two acts, one which constituted ‘assault with a deadly weapon’ against one victim, and a second which constituted ‘drawing a weapon in a threatening manner’ against the other victim.)
What are the possible penalties?
Drawing or brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner is a misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying with it:
- Up to 6 months in jail; and/or
- Possible fines up to $1,000.
For a more detailed explanation of ‘assault with a deadly weapon,’ please click here.
Are there any Defenses?
Yes, of course there are. Some of the possible defenses include:
- Not enough people present – As noted above, ‘drawing a weapon in a threatening manner’ requires at least two people other than the perpetrator. In other words, there must be a victim and a witness. If there are not at least 3 people present including the perpetrator, then there has been no violation of NRS 202.320 and the charges should be dropped or dismissed.
- Self-Defense – Self-defense is a common and well-known defense. It provides that a person can use reasonable and appropriate force to defend themselves or others from immediate harm or death. If your attorney can show that you were fearful of imminent harm or death, and that the brandishing of a weapon was a reasonable and necessary form of self-defense, 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 drawing a weapon in a threatening manner?
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.