A newly passed law in Nevada, AB 440, effective October 1, 2021, requires police officers to issue citations in lieu of arrest for misdemeanor offenses unless certain criteria are met. The 81st Legislature in Nevada brought several new changes to law enforcement in addition to AB 440.

AB 440 was brought to the legislative session prohibiting officers from arresting for any non-violent misdemeanor, but passed with certain exceptions in place.

Officers will be allowed to arrest on a misdemeanor if the crime is a repeat offense, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the crime will continue or defendant will not show up in court or a person or property is in imminent danger, the person does not furnish evidence of identity, or if the offense is a violation of a temporary protection order (TPO), a crime of violence, stalking, driving while license is revoked due to DUI. 

Winnemucca Police Department Chief Dave Garrison said the new law has taken a huge chunk out of their ability to do their job. 

“Quality of life crimes such as trespassing, disturbing the peace, public intoxication, we usually take them to jail, now we have to issue them a ticket and hope they go sleep it off,” said Garrison. “When an officer comes because of a situation, things may not go the way that they believe they should because they are bound by certain laws.”

AB 396, adding barriers to the use of deadly force was effective July 1, 2021. Officers are now supposed to establish that before using deadly force against someone, that person must have committed a felony involving the infliction or threat of serious bodily harm and possess and imminent threat of serious bodily harm to the peace officer or others. 

Garrison said the concern from a law enforcement perspective with AB 396 is that it may cause hesitation in officers that could put lives in danger.  

Another change in the legal process effective January 1, 2022, allows municipal courts to hold domestic violence jury trials with panels of 12 jurors. The law also removes the prohibition of DA’s dismissing or reducing a domestic violence charge. 

In September 2019, a supreme court ruling set the precedent to allow jury trial on misdemeanor domestic violence cases because of the loss of second amendment rights with a conviction. 

The Union Town Justice Court in Humboldt County is still seeking a permanent solution to be able to hold jury trials, as is Sixth Judicial District Court as the jury box was removed from the large courtroom. 

Other laws passed in the Nevada 81st Legislative session: (over 250 bills impacted law enforcement and public safety)

AB 116 makes most traffic violations civil infractions, excluding driving under the influence, manslaughter, etc. 

AB 132 allows for juvenile miranda rights to be further explained. 

AB 186 bans quotas in law enforcement, something Garrison said has not been pushed at the local police in the 22 years he has been there. 

AB 220 bans the use of encrypted applications such as WhatsApp by law enforcement. 

AB 315 requires a maximum two hours of mental health counseling following a law enforcement officer retirement. 

AB 403 assigns a $100 fine to jaywalking, a civil offense. 

AB 58 allows the attorney general to investigate and file suits against law enforcement offices for patterns and practices of behavior that violate constitutional rights following a complaint. 

“I would encourage the public to educate themselves on the criminal justice system and if they have concerns, please ask,” said Garrison. “My door is always open.”

More detailed information on the 81st legislative session can be found online at https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/81st2021.