Skip to content

Matter of Siegfred Ara Sierra

The Board held that the Nevada offense of attempted violation of NRS 205.273 (possession of a stolen vehicle) was not a categorical aggravated felony theft offense under the law of the Ninth Circuit. NRS 205.273 may be satisfied by possessing, receiving, or transferring a stolen vehicle with either knowledge that it was stolen or reason to believe that it was stolen. However, the generic definition of an aggravated felony theft offense, according to the Ninth Circuit's en banc decision in U.S. v. Corona-Sanchez, requires "the criminal intent to deprive the owner of rights and benefits of ownership, even if such deprivation is less than total or permanent.” The Board appropriately recognized that a conviction does not require that intent if it is based on what a reasonable person should have known, rather than what the defendant actually knew. Therefore, a conviction under NRS 205.273 does not categorically meet the theft definition.

The Board declined to decide whether NRS 205.273 is divisible into two separately enumerated crimes, possession with knowledge and possession with reason to believe. Since both alternatives are listed in the statute, it would seem to be divisible and thus susceptible to the modified categorical approach. I do not know much about Nevada law, though, so perhaps there is an argument against divisibility. It did not matter in this case because the record did not indicate whether the conviction was for knowledge or reason to believe.

The Board also explicitly reserved the question of whether receipt of stolen property with reason to believe it was stolen would meet the generic definition of a theft offense absent controlling circuit precedent. It noted that many jurisdictions, although not most, included receipt with reason to believe in theft statutes at the time Congress enacted the theft aggravated felony definition.