Have you been arrested and charged with violating Nevada child abuse laws?
Our Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense lawyers have a history of successfully resolving child abuse cases for our clients, including winning full acquittals in trial and keeping criminal records clean.
Our attorneys defend against criminal allegations all throughout Clark County, Washoe County and Nye County, especially in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, Mesquite, Laughlin, Pahrump, and Reno, Nevada.
Many good people are wrongfully prosecuted for child abuse in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada. Sometimes they get falsely accused by a vengeful spouse. Other times the police overreacted to an innocent accident. In any event, hope is never lost that you'll be victorious in a child abuse case.
In the sections below, you'll learn how our attorneys fight Nevada charges of child abuse in attempt to keep your criminal record clean. Also discussed are different types of child abuse, possible penalties, consequences for immigrants and out-of-state residents, and more:
(Click on a title to proceed directly to that section)
2) How child abuse relates to "shaken baby
syndrome," sexual assault, homicide, and abuse
to an unborn child in Nevada
4) How prosecutors try to prove your guilt as to
Nevada child abuse, neglect and endangerment
6) Sentences, penalties, punishments and pleas in
cases of abuse, neglect or endangerment of a
child under Nevada law
8) Sealing Nevada criminal records, Sex Offender
Registration, and Central Repository in child
abuse, neglect and endangerment cases
Our Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense lawyers are dedicated to fighting for a dismissal or reduction in charges in your child abuse or neglect case. Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation about your situation and how we can help.
Child abuse, neglect and endangerment in Nevada law are defined as willfully causing or permitting a child under eighteen to undergo unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering.1 This law encompasses a wide scope of alleged behaviors:
Acts constituting child abuse, neglect and endangerment in Nevada
Nevada child abuse law encompasses most forms of battery, such as punching, kicking, pushing, burning, crushing, cutting, strangling, throwing an object at a child...or anything else causing unjustifiable pain.
Nevada child abuse law does permit reasonable corporeal punishments such as spanking or a smack, but it may not be excessive.2 As Laughlin criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse explains,
"Sending your child to her room without dinner one night isn't unlawful in Nevada. But extreme, repeated punishments that are painful or physically debilitating may be actionable as child abuse and get you booked at the Clark County Detention Center.3 "
Emotional abuse under Nevada law is behavior that injures a child's intellectual, psychological or emotional capacity to where their normal range of performance is impaired.4 Emotional abuse is hard to measure and prove, but some examples could be the following:
- Perpetually telling a child that he/she is worthless
- not allowing a child to go to school and learn
- brain-washing a child with destructive or violent ideological beliefs
Sexual abuse & sexual exploitation
Sexual abuse includes acts of sexual assault, incest and rape as well as lewdness with a child under 14 and open and gross lewdness: Sexual acts on a child are considered to be abuse in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada whether or not there was penetration.5 Female genital mutilation is prohibited as well.6
Sexual exploitation in Nevada often concerns using a child to engage in or solicit prostitution. It's also considered sexual exploitation to use a child to make pornography or to exhibit a child in a sexual way.7
Neglect (and medical maltreatment)
Child neglect in Las Vegas (and throughout Nevada) applies where a person responsible for a child's welfare has abandoned that child or left the child without proper supervision, food, shelter, medicine or other necessary care.8 As Reno criminal defense lawyer Michael Becker explains,
"People may be charged with child abuse in Nevada not only for their alleged actions but also for allegedly neglecting to act.9 Leaving an infant unsupervised for a long period of time may be equally as unlawful as battering him or her."
With regard to medical care, a child's guardians may lawfully use nonmedical remedial treatments to nurse a sick child. But Nevada must recognize the treatment as a suitable alternative and the guardian must choose it in good faith ...10
But if an accident results in injuries clearly requiring immediate medical attention and significant time elapses before the guardian seeks it, a Clark County District Attorney may argue that child abuse or neglect occurred.11
Child endangerment law in Las Vegas (and throughout Nevada) makes it a crime to put a child in a situation that jeopardizes his/her physical or mental health. One example of child endangerment the Nevada Supreme Court recognized is the transportation of a child in a stolen car.12
Other examples of child endangerment in Nevada may include:
- leaving a child with a relative you have good reason to believe is abusive
- letting a child play in a hazardous or dangerous environment
- operating a methamphetamine lab in a location where a child is present
Adult children, or children abusing children
NRS 200.508 applies only to abused children under age eighteen, so an adult allegedly beating his/her adult-aged son or daughter would be charged with violating Nevada battery law instead.
However, minors who beat other minors may be charged under Nevada child abuse law: This usually concerns cases of an older teen allegedly hurting a young child. But if two minors of like age fight each other, they'd probably be charged under Nevada battery law too.
2) How child abuse relates to "shaken baby
syndrome," sexual assault, homicide, and abuse
to an unborn child in Nevada
Nevada child abuse laws often overlap with other offenses and issues, such as Shaken Baby Syndrome, sexual assault, homicide and abuse to an unborn child. This section discusses how they interrelate and whether double jeopardy comes into play.
Shaken Baby Syndrome
Shaken baby syndrome ("SBS") is a kind of child abuse in which someone allegedly shakes a baby violently, usually in order to quiet the baby. Also referred to as "Abusive Head Trauma," SBS can cause serious mental and physical injuries and is potentially lethal.13
Shaken baby syndrome is charged as child abuse, murder or attempted murder in Las Vegas Nevada depending on if death occurred and the extent of the injuries. In order to prove SBS, the state often tries to show evidence of SBS symptoms like brain damage14 and retinal hemorrhages.15
For more information about SBS, visit to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. Also read the Nevada Governor's Proclamation of Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness Week.16
Child abuse by sexual assault: Nevada sexual assault law & double jeopardy
The constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy protects people from being convicted of a similar crime twice for the same behavior.17 Double jeopardy often factors into Nevada child abuse cases that also involve sexual assault. For example:
John is booked at the Henderson Jail18 on charges that he's raped a child. Raping a child technically violates both "Nevada sexual assault law"19 and "Nevada child abuse law."
Since double jeopardy bars multiple convictions for a single criminal offense, John cannot be convicted of both sexual assault and child abuse in Henderson since they're essentially the same crime in that case.20
Homicide by child abuse: Nevada murder law & double jeopardy
An alleged act of child abuse may be charged as first-degree murder under Nevada law if the child dies as a result or in the perpetration of the abuse.21 If the child survives but the alleged abuse was very grave, the charge may then be attempted murder.22
Nevada murder law draws a distinction between child abuse and child neglect: Only deaths allegedly resulting from child abuse may be charged as murder.23 Deaths stemming merely from child neglect cannot be charged as murder. For example,
John is booked at the Reno Jail24 on charges that he beat his child to death. John's wife knew John beat the child but didn't do anything to stop it.
John can be charged with first-degree murder because he directly abused the child. But John's wife would probably be charged with only child abuse in Nevada because she didn't directly harm the child. Rather, she only neglected to help him.25
If a Nevadan allegedly commits one act of child abuse that directly results in the child's death, then that person may be convicted of only murder and not also child abuse. To do otherwise would violate the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy.26
But if a Nevadan commits many acts of child abuse and the child dies from one of them, then it's lawful for that person to be convicted of both murder as well as child abuse.27 This is because some of the abuse was unrelated to the specific acts that caused the child's death.
Abuse or death to an unborn child
Las Vegas Nevada law is still murky about what charges prosecutors may press in cases of unborn children being abused or killed. It seems that the older the fetus is, the more likely its wrongful termination will be treated as a crime:
Anyone who willfully kills an unborn "quick" child by injuring the mother may be charged with manslaughter.28 Nevada law doesn't specify how old a "quick" fetus must be, but it's generally believed to mean when the mother feels the fetus move.29 However...
A pregnant woman in Nevada who ingests illegal substances that then transfer to the fetus via the umbilical cord cannot be charged with violating NRS 200.508 no matter how old the fetus is.30
Similar to domestic abuse, many reports of child abuse in Nevada come from 911 calls. Once the call is received, Las Vegas Metropolitan police or other law enforcement go to the purported location and often make an arrest whether there's evidence of abuse or not.
Child Protective Services (CPS)
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)31 mandates that some professionals, such as teachers, doctors, therapists and clergymen, to report suspected child abuse and neglect cases in Nevada to the CPS.32 CPS accepts anonymous tips as well.
Once a child is referred to CPS in Nevada, they conduct an investigation to assess the extent of any mistreatment. The investigation includes information-gathering on the child, the child's family, and a check of the Central Registry for past CPS reports.
If CPS concludes that there's reasonable cause to believe that a child is being abused or neglected in Nevada, they'll classify the findings as "substantiated." Otherwise, they'll conclude the abuse allegation is "unsubstantiated" and close the file.
If CPS classifies their findings as "substantiated," CPS will then notify Nevada law enforcement to orchestrate an arrest and/or removal of the child from the allegedly abusive environment if it hasn't already been done.
Reporting child abuse to CPS
You can always make an anonymous report of suspected child abuse in Nevada to CPS whether or not you have proof of the alleged abuse: A report is merely a request for an investigation.
If possible, a report of suspected child abuse to CPS in Nevada should contain the following information:
- the name, address, age and sex of the child
- name and address of child's parents or guardians
- nature and extent of the abuse or neglect
- evidence of previously known or suspected abuse or neglect of the child or the child's siblings
- name, address and relationship of the alleged abuser to the child
- any other information you have33
The Child Abuse Hotline in Clark County, Nevada is (702) 399-0081, or you can email them at DFSHotline@co.clark.nv.us. Also visit the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services and the Clark County Department of Family Services - Child Protection.
To learn the law and procedure behind clearing Nevada arrest warrants, refer to our article on clearing Nevada arrest warrants.
4) How prosecutors try to prove your guilt as to
Nevada child abuse, neglect and endangerment
In order for someone to be convicted of child abuse in Nevada, a prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- the suspect acted intentionally, and
- the child suffered physical or mental harm as a result.
Child abuse in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada is a "general intent" crime.34 This means that you don't have to intend to harm a child or to violate the law in order to be convicted of child abuse ...
Instead, you just have to intentionally commit the acts that result in harm to the child.35
It's a little confusing, so Laughlin criminal defense lawyer Neil Shouse explains the distinction with an example:
"Suppose John belts his son with the intent to discipline him but he does it so hard the child's spinal cord gets damaged. John can be charged with child abuse even though he had no intent to cause such injuries. All that matters is John intended to belt him that hard."
Therefore, Nevada prosecutors don't have to show that you intended to be abusive for you to be found guilty. They just have to show that you intended to commit the acts (such as belting too hard) that a reasonable person would have known would be abusive.
Some evidence that the Clark County District Attorney may try to introduce in order to prove a child abuse charge include witnesses, police reports, and depending on the circumstances, evidence of past child abuse.
Physical or mental harm
For a judge or jury to convict someone of child abuse in Las Vegas Nevada, the prosecutor has to prove that the child in question suffered physical or mental harm:
Physical abuse against a child in Nevada can manifest itself as an injury, an illness, unjustifiable pain,36 or even a cosmetic disfigurement.37 To prove the existence of physical abuse, prosecutors often rely on medical records and medical experts.38
Mental abuse against a child can cause intellectual, psychological and emotional deficiencies that hinder developmental, academic and social skills.39 Mental abuse is usually harder for Nevada prosecutors to show precisely because it's not physical.40
Evidence that Las Vegas prosecutors usually rely on in an effort to prove the child suffers from emotional abuse includes: psychological evaluations, medical experts and witnesses of the child's behavior.
Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Michael Becker has tried many child abuse, neglect or endangerment cases and won full acquittals. Some of the more common defenses he uses in the courtroom and in negotiations with prosecutors are the following:
- self-inflicted injuries or vengefully inflicted injuries
- accidental injuries
- corporeal punishment
- lack of intent
- self defense41
Self-inflicted or vengefully inflicted injuries
In Las Vegas and throughout Nevada, it's all-too-common for angry or attention-seeking children to self-inflict wounds and then claim that a parent did it. Sometimes, out of revenge, one parent injures the child only to falsely accuse the other parent of it in the hopes of getting that other parent in trouble.
Luckily, Nevada has expert witnesses who can study the medical records and testify as to whether the alleged child abuse injuries were self-inflicted, and how they were created. Simple scientific testimony is often very effective in overriding the accuser's false accusations and lies.
A Las Vegas Nevada court cannot convict you of child abuse if you didn't intend for it to happen. Pure accidents, even tragic ones, are not child abuse unless it was reasonably foreseeable and reasonably preventable42.
"Often Las Vegas Metropolitan police believe they see evidence of child abuse and make an arrest even though it was all accidental," Reno criminal defense attorney Michael Becker explains. "Kids can get suspicious-looking injuries from common trip-ups like:
- falling from trees, bikes and stairs,
- sports involving bats, racquets or physical contact,
- getting their hands caught in doors or windows, or
- roughhousing with their friends."
In People v. Kevin R, Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Michael Becker defended a man on felony "shaken baby" charges and won a full acquittal. With good advocacy and testimony, he convinced the jury that the child's injury was the result of an innocent fall.
Parents' right to spank their kids
You may discipline children in Nevada by yelling, spanking, or denying them dinner. But an over-zealous Las Vegas Metropolitan police officer might misconstrue these as verbal abuse, battery and starvation.43 And kids being kids, they may exaggerate the situation to make it sound worse than it is.
In the California case of People v. Mark O., Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Mike Becker won a full acquittal on all felony counts for a father accused of whipping a child to death by arguing the corporeal punishment didn't cause the injuries.
Between witness testimony and medical experts who study the injury in order to deduce what could have caused it, a good Nevada criminal defense attorney will try to demonstrate that whatever happened to the child was unrelated to corporeal punishment.
No intent to harm the child
A jury can't convict you under Nevada child abuse law if you didn't intend to commit an act that reasonably would have led to the child being harmed. "Intent" defenses can be especially effective in cases involving abusive relatives and medical maltreatment:
One frequent scenario in Las Vegas child abuse cases concerns parents leaving their children with abusive relatives. If the parent had no reason to know the relative was doing the child harm, then a jury shouldn't convict the parent of abuse.
Another typical child abuse case in Las Vegas Nevada concerns medical treatment. If a child has an illness that was misdiagnosed by a doctor or that the parents shouldn't reasonably know is serious, then they shouldn't be liable for not medicating it quickly or appropriately.44
Furthermore, parents and guardians in Nevada are permitted to use non-medical remedial treatments to treat sick children as long as two conditions are met:
- Nevada considers the non-medical treatment as an acceptable alternative to mainstream methods, and
- The parent or guardian elects the non-medical treatment in good faith45
Nevada self-defense law allows you to physically fight back at someone as long as you reasonably believe they will imminently kill or injure you and that immediate force is necessary to prevent the danger, but you can't use any more force than necessary.46
Many child abuse cases in Las Vegas arise out of angry kids or teens becoming violent and adults simply trying to fend them off. Expert testimony and witness statements can help demonstrate that you were not the aggressor and were only trying to prevent further harm in line with Nevada self-defense law.
The best defense always depends on the particular facts of your case. A good Nevada criminal defense attorney will investigate the records and research the law in order to craft the most foolproof arguments available for your individual circumstances.
6) Sentences, penalties, punishments and pleas in
cases of abuse, neglect or endangerment of a
child under Nevada law
If someone is convicted of child abuse, neglect or endangerment in Nevada, the final sentence the judge may impose depends on five primary factors:
- Whether the alleged abuse was willful,
- whether substantial harm occurred,
- whether the harm was sexual,
- the child's age, and
- whether the accused is a repeat-offender.
1) Willful vs. permissive action
Firstly, Nevada courts draw a distinction between cases where the citizen accused of child abuse willfully causes the alleged abuse and cases where he/she knowingly allows or permits it to happen ...
In other words, a parent who actually physically batters a child may be given a harsher sentence in Las Vegas than a parent who leaves the child with someone else who the parent knows may batter the child.
2) Substantial physical or mental injury
Secondly, punishments for Las Vegas Nevada child abuse convictions are harsher when either of the following results from the alleged abuse:
- substantial physical injury, or
- substantial mental harm
Substantial physical injury means temporary or permanent disfigurement or organ impairment. Substantial mental harm encompasses intellectual, psychological or emotional damage that is observable and precludes the child from functioning normally.48
3) Child abuse by sexual acts
Thirdly, sentences for Las Vegas Nevada child abuse cases will be longer if the alleged abuse was sexual in nature. Penetration need not have occurred for it to be considered sexual abuse.49
4) Age of the child
Fourthly, Nevada judges hand down harsher sentences if the child in the case was thirteen years old or younger.
5) Repeat offender
Finally, repeat-offenders with past child abuse convictions get more stringent penalties under Nevada child abuse law.
Below are the specific prison times and fines a judge may impose upon a conviction for child abuse, neglect and endangerment in Las Vegas Nevada:
If the abuse was willful AND substantial bodily or mental harm occurs...
If the abuse allegedly involved sexual abuse or exploitation of a child thirteen or younger, then the matter is chargeable as a category A felony and carries a life sentence with the possibility of parole after fifteen years. Otherwise, it may be charged as a category B felony, carrying two to twenty years imprisonment.
If the abuse was willful AND no substantial bodily or mental harm occurs...
If the defendant has no previous child abuse convictions, then the matter may be chargeable as a category B felony and carries one to six years. But if the defendant has previous child abuse convictions, the sentence may range from two to fifteen years.
If the defendant just "allowed" the abuse AND substantial bodily or mental harm occurs...
If the abuse allegedly involved sexual abuse or exploitation of a child thirteen or younger, then the matter is chargeable as a category A felony and carries a life sentence with the possibility of parole after ten years. Otherwise, it may be charged as a category B felony, carrying two to twenty years imprisonment.
If the defendant just "allowed" the abuse AND no substantial bodily or mental harm occurs...
If the defendant has no previous child abuse convictions, the matter may be chargeable as a gross misdemeanor, carrying a $2,000 fine and/or a year in jail. But if the defendant has previous child abuse convictions, the matter may be prosecuted as a category C felony, carrying one to five years and maybe a $10,000 fine.
Plea bargains and resolutions in Nevada child abuse cases
Prosecutors in child abuse cases are typically reluctant to negotiate if the injuries are severe. But they sometimes agree to reduce the charges to Nevada assault and battery law50 or "contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Nevada"51 or to stipulate to probation instead of prison.
Counseling in Nevada child abuse cases
Clark County District Attorneys also have the authority to refer someone they suspect of child abuse to counseling for treatment. This is irrespective of whether or not they ultimately decide to prosecute that same person for child abuse, neglect or endangerment.52
If you're no longer in state or suspected of being a fugitive while having child abuse charges in Nevada, local law enforcement will definitely work with Nevada law enforcement in attempting to extradite you back here to answer the charges.
Extradition procedures in other states
Some states like Hawaii and Florida may release you on bail pending extradition. But others like California probably won't. So it's vital you retain a criminal defense lawyer prior to being arrested out-of-state so they can try to keep you from being taken into custody at all.
Fighting extradition in other states
If you're arrested out-of-state for alleged child abuse charges in Nevada, you'll have the choice either to waive extradition and return to Nevada or to remain and fight extradition.
If you waive extradition, Nevada law enforcement can take a month or more to pick you up and bring you back here. If you decide to challenge extradition, you'll have a hearing where you and your attorney can argue against extradition on two grounds usually:
- Validity of the warrant, and
- That you're not the right person sought in the warrant
To learn more about the procedures of Nevada extradition law and how to protect your rights, refer to our informational article on Nevada extradition law.
And for information geared specifically for tourists facing charges in Las Vegas and elsewhere, click on our informational article about help for out-of-town visitors with Las Vegas criminal cases. Nevada attorneys can usually offer help for out-of-town visitors with Las Vegas criminal cases by appearing in court on their behalf.
Sealing Nevada criminal records
If you've been convicted of child abuse, neglect or endangerment in Nevada, then state law prohibits those criminal records from ever being sealed.53 But if your case was dismissed, then sealing Nevada criminal records should be a simple procedure that can be done right away.54
Then Nevada Central Registry is an official informational repository for substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect in Nevada. Under certain conditions, employers can request a Child Abuse and Neglect check (CANS check) for prospective employees:55
Employers may only receive information from the Nevada Central Registry if the job applicant provides written authorization allowing the background check ...
Furthermore, Nevada employers cannot request a CANS checks unless the employer is required to by law OR if the prospective job involves being around children or the elderly.56
Nevada Sex Offender Registry
For the purpose of public safety, Nevada is legally required to maintain a website with information about serious sex-offenders. Searchers of the Nevada Sex Offender Registry can find the offenders' names, birthdays, addresses, employers, and what tier sex-offender they are.57
If you're convicted of a sex-related crime in or around Las Vegas, it's very important you hire good criminal defense counsel right away to help you not only broker a good deal in criminal court but also to keep you off the Sex Offender website if possible.
California child abuse law is similar to Nevada's in that both require that the citizen accused of abuse to have acted "willfully" in order to be convicted.58 Also, neither Nevada nor California punish accidental injuries as child abuse.
Furthermore, both California and Nevada can prosecute child abuse as either a felony or a misdemeanor (specifically, a "gross misdemeanor" in Nevada) depending on the severity of the case. But there is one key difference between the states:
Whereas Nevada lumps child abuse and endangerment into one law, California child endangerment law is distinct: California child endangerment law punishes putting a child in danger irrespective of whether harm occurred, while abuse requires actual harm.59
Immigration law regards child abuse as a deportable offense, a crime involving moral turpitude, and an inadmissible offense. Aliens and non-citizens charged or convicted of child abuse may be removed from the U.S. and prohibited from ever coming back.
Child abuse, neglect or endangerment as deportable crimes in Nevada
Domestic violence offenses are deportable crimes in Nevada. Since domestic violence encompasses child abuse, the Department of Homeland Security may try to remove immigrants and non-citizens convicted of child abuse, neglect or endangerment in Nevada from the U.S.60
Child abuse, neglect or endangerment as crimes involving moral turpitude in Nevada
Immigrants and aliens in Nevada may be removed from America for having been convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude in Nevada (CIMT),61 which are considered especially heinous offenses.
Child abuse is usually considered a CIMT, especially if it involved physical or sexual abuse.62 Therefore, the Department of Justice may have the authority to remove an immigrant or non-citizen for having been convicted of child abuse on CIMT grounds.63
Child abuse, neglect or endangerment as inadmissible crimes in Nevada
As a crime involving moral turpitude, child abuse, neglect and endangerment are also considered inadmissible crimes in Nevada. Consequently, non-citizens suspected of child abuse may be barred from coming into the U.S.64
If you're not an American citizen and you've been charged with a crime in Nevada, make sure to retain counsel who's experienced in immigration law to handle your case and to maximize your chances to remain in the states.
In order to put into effect the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974, the following year Nevada Legislature passed laws governing the reporting and investigation of child abuse and the establishment of the Nevada Central Registry.65
In 1985, the Nevada Legislature passed the Child Protection Act, outlining new stringent requirements for the welfare division.66 Two years later the state passed a law requiring counties of 100,000 or more people to provide child protective services.67
In 1997 new legislation redefined CPS procedures and mandated immediate responses for reports regarding children five years old and younger. And in 1999, Nevada legislation implemented the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) to promote child havens.68
If child abuse allegations in Nevada involve sexual acts, depending on the facts the prosecutor may charge lewdness, statutory rape or child pornography instead. Below are brief explanations of these criminal offenses, and click the links for more information.
Nevada crime of lewdness with a child under 14 | NRS 201.230
The Nevada crime of lewdness with a child under 14 outlaws willful sexual acts other than penetration.69 It's punished as a category A felony, carrying life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.
Nevada crime of using a minor to produce pornography (Nevada child pornography laws) | NRS 200.710 & NRS 200.720
The Nevada crime of using a minor to produce pornography is a category A felony, regardless of whether the minor was aware of the sexual nature. Penalties for breaking Nevada child pornography laws include life in prison with the possibility of parole.70
The Nevada crime of statutory sexual seduction makes it a felony for an adult to have sex with a child under sixteen. Statutory rape laws in Nevada carry prison time, and the sentence increases if the child was under fourteen or if substantial bodily harm resulted.71
For general information about Nevada child sex crimes, see our article on Nevada child sex crimes.
Child Abuse Prevention Network - Resource page on the prevention of child abuse throughout the states.
ChildAbuse.com - Another resource page with articles and links for the prevention of child abuse.
Prevent Child Abuse Nevada (PCA Nevada) - Provides services and advocacy statewide for the prevention of child abuse in Nevada.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Child Abuse and Neglect Cases Statistics 72
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4)73
Are YOU facing charges for violating NRS 200.508-"abuse, neglect and endangerment of a child"-in Nevada?
Whether you've been falsely accused, overcharged or just made a mistake, let our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys help you through this process. We'll do everything to craft a favorable resolution in your favor and take your case to trial if necessary.
Call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation. Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys handle everything from sealing records and Nevada DUI74 to serious felonies. If you're in custody, we'll guide you through Las Vegas bail procedures, too.75
1NRS 200.508 Abuse, neglect or endangerment of child" Penalties; definitions.
2NRS 432B.150 Excessive corporal punishment may constitute abuse or neglect. Excessive corporal punishment may result in physical or mental injury constituting abuse or neglect of a child under the provisions of this chapter.
3The Clark County Detention Center is the biggest jail in Clark County. Citizens charged with felonies in Las Vegas and who couldn't bond out are often housed there up through their trials.
4NRS 432B.070 "Mental injury" defined. "Mental injury" means an injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity or the emotional condition of a child as evidenced by an observable and substantial impairment of his ability to function within his normal range of performance or behavior.
5NRS 432B.100 "Sexual abuse" defined.
6NRS 200.5083 Mutilation of genitalia of female child" Penalties; definitions.
7NRS 432B.110 "Sexual exploitation" defined. "Sexual exploitation" includes forcing, allowing or encouraging a child
- To solicit for or engage in prostitution;
- To view a pornographic film or literature; and
- To engage in"
(a) Filming, photographing or recording on videotape; or
(b) Posing, modeling, depiction or a live performance before an audience, ? which involves the exhibition of a child's genitals or any sexual conduct with a child, as defined in NRS 200.700.
8NRS 432B.140 Negligent treatment or maltreatment. Negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child occurs if a child has been abandoned, is without proper care, control and supervision or lacks the subsistence, education, shelter, medical care or other care necessary for the well-being of the child because of the faults or habits of the person responsible for his welfare or his neglect or refusal to provide them when able to do so.
9King v. State, 105 Nev. 373, 377, 784 P.2d 942, 944 (1989) ("Nevada's child abuse statute encompasses acts of omission as well as acts of commission.").
10NRS 200.5085 Use of nonmedical remedial treatment. A child is not abused or neglected, nor is his health or welfare harmed or threatened for the sole reason that his parent or guardian, in good faith, selects and depends upon nonmedical remedial treatment for such child, if such treatment is recognized and permitted under the laws of this State in lieu of medical treatment.
11Martineau v. Angelone, 25 F.3d 734, 739 (9th Cir.1994) ("In order to prove child abuse based on delay, the state had to prove both (A) that some time passed between Michelle's injuries and appellants' 911 call and attempted CPR and (B) that, during this time, appellants knew (or should have known) that Michelle's injuries were serious enough to require immediate medical attention, yet did nothing.")
12Hughes v. State, 112 Nev. 84, 88, 910 P.2d 254, 256 (1996) ("Officer Curry's testimony helped the state establish that the transportation of a child in a stolen vehicle places that child in a situation where he or she may suffer physical pain or mental suffering. Without such testimony, the jury might not have been fully aware of the dangerousness of the situation in which appellant placed his daughter by transporting her in a stolen vehicle.")
13Shaken Baby Syndrome Given New Name, Area Health Education Center of Southern Nevada press release (April 29, 2009) ("The American Association of Pediatrics is calling for a name change of Shaken Baby Syndrome to the new name 'Abusive Head Trauma', which will more accurately reflect the brain, skull and spinal injuries associated with the shaking of infants. Abusive Head Trauma is the leading cause of non-accidental death in children under age two, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.").
14Moxley v. State, 2008 WL 6898693, 6 (Nev.) (2008) ("The autopsy incision photos were admitted to show the depth of Jonathan's bruises, and more importantly, to show the extent of Jonathan's brain injuries which could only have been caused by shaken baby syndrome, which in turn was assigned as the cause of Jonathan's breathing problems.").
15Wegner v. State, 116 Nev. 1149, 1154, 14 P.3d 25, 29 (2000) ("Dr. Marietta Nelson, a pediatric ophthalmologist, who reviewed only the autopsy reports, testified that the retinal hemorrhages were a classic sign of shaken baby syndrome. Dr. Nelson testified that the injury was of a non-accidental nature with hemorrhages that must have appeared quickly after the injury.").
16Nevada Governor's Proclamation for Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness Week (April 13-19, 2008) ("[A]ccording to UNITY, the State of Nevada Welfare data base, from July 1, 2005 -June 30, 2006 there were 21 reports of Shaken Baby Syndrome, of those 21 reports 16 children were multiple reports per child. Six of those were eventually substantiated;").
17Fifth Amendment, U.S. Constitution, "[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb...").
18The Henderson Jail is where people are booked following criminal arrests in Henderson Nevada. Inmates there are either awaiting a trial date or are serving misdemeanor sentences.
19NRS 200.366 Sexual assault" Definition; penalties.
20Brown v. State, 113 Nev. 275, 286-287, 934 P.2d 235, 243 (1997) ("To determine whether Troy's convictions for sexual assault and child abuse by sexual abuse/sexual assault are barred by the double jeopardy provisions of the state and federal constitutions, this court must apply the test from Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 304, 52 S.Ct. 180, 182, 76 L.Ed. 306 (1932), which states" "[W]here the same act or transaction constitutes a violation of two distinct statutory provisions, the test to be applied to determine whether there are two offenses or only one, is whether each provision requires proof of a fact which the other does not." Applying the Blockburger test, we conclude that Troy's conviction for both sexual assault and child abuse by sexual abuse/sexual assault was improper. As charged in this case, child abuse by sexual abuse requires a sexual assault pursuant to NRS 200.366, plus resultant physical pain or mental suffering; sexual assault requires only those elements present in NRS 200.366. Therefore, a conviction for sexual assault does not require proof of a fact other than or additional to any facts necessary to prove child abuse by sexual abuse/sexual assault. In every case such as this one, the child abuse by sexual abuse/sexual assault cannot occur without the sexual assault, and therefore, the sexual assault becomes an element of child abuse by sexual assault. Given this analysis, Blockburger mandates that Troy cannot be convicted of both child abuse by sexual abuse/sexual assault and sexual assault. See also Meador v. State, 101 Nev. 765, 771, 711 P.2d 852, 856 (1985) (applying Blockburger and concluding that double jeopardy barred appellant's convictions for both lewd acts with a child and sexual assault because proof of a lewd act did not require proof of a fact distinct from the elements of sexual assault since a lewd act necessarily occurred during the sexual assault).").
21Nevada A.B. 782 (May 16, 1989) ("...providing that murder by abuse of a child is murder of the first degree...").
22NRS 200.030 Degrees of murder; penalties.
23Labastida v. State, 115 Nev. 298, 303, 986 P.2d 443, 446 (1999) ("The suggestion that one who is responsible for a child may passively aid and abet first degree murder "by observing and being manifestly aware" of acts of child abuse, and "by doing nothing to stop this abuse" when it is possible to take preventative measures improperly merges concepts of "abuse" and "neglect," and is inconsistent with the elements of first degree murder defined in NRS 200.030(1)(a). As the prior majority opinion recognizes, the terms "abuse" and "neglect" have distinctive meanings and cannot be applied interchangeably. The use of the term "child abuse" and not "child neglect" in NRS 200.030(1)(a) evinces the legislature's intent that different meanings apply to the two terms and that a murder perpetrated by means of "child abuse," and not "child neglect," constitutes first degree murder. Thus, the definition of first degree murder set forth in the prior majority opinion improperly expands the statutory elements of first degree murder to include a murder perpetrated by means of child neglect. Accordingly, we are not willing to read NRS 200.030(1)(a) so as to define first degree murder to include a murder which is perpetrated by means of child neglect. There is no statutory basis for doing so.").
24The Reno Jail is a large modern detention center in Washoe County, Nevada that holds people arrested for, charged with or sentenced for felonies, misdemeanors and federal crimes.
25Labastida v. State, 115 Nev. 298, 307, 986 P.2d 443, 449 (1999) ("[T]he second degree felony murder rule applies only where the felony is inherently dangerous, where death or injury is a directly foreseeable consequence of the illegal act, and where there is an immediate and direct causal relationship-without the intervention of some other source or agency-between the actions of the defendant and the victim's death. Labastida's son did not die as an immediate and direct consequence of Labastida's neglect, without the intervention of some other source or agency. Rather, he died from Michael Strawser's abuse. Consequently, the evidence supporting Labastida's commission of felony child neglect in this case cannot support her second degree murder conviction under this court's decision in Morris.").
26Athey v. State, 106 Nev. 520, 523, 797 P.2d 956, 958 (1990) ("Athey contends that his convictions of both felony child abuse and first degree murder for the acts of December 15 violate the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy. Athey correctly notes that in Talancon v. State, 102 Nev. 294, 721 P.2d 764 (1986), this court clarified the two-part test for purposes of double jeopardy analysis. In Talancon, we said that first it must be determined whether there are two offenses or only one. The test to be applied is "whether each provision requires proof of a fact which the other does not." Id. at 298, 721 P.2d at 766 (quoting Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 304, 52 S.Ct. 180, 182, 76 L.Ed. 306 (1932)). Second, "where two statutory offenses constitute the 'same offense' under the Blockburger test, double jeopardy will not be violated by separate sentences for those two offenses following a single trial, if it appears that the legislature intended separate punishments." Id. 102 Nev. at 301, 721 P.2d at 769. Because the felony child abuse occurred on the same evening as the murder, Athey contends that the same act of child abuse constituted the basis for both offenses here. He persuasively distinguishes his case from the facts of Bludsworth v. State, 98 Nev. 289, 646 P.2d 558 (1982), in which substantial testimony established that the child had been seriously and persistently abused prior to the fatal injury and was a victim of the battered child syndrome. Id. at 290, 646 P.2d at 559. In Bludsworth, we upheld the conviction of separate offenses of child abuse and murder. Id. at 293, 646 P.2d at 560. Based on the evidence in his case, Athey asserts that, unlike Bludsworth, first degree murder could not have been committed in this case absent the commission of felony child abuse and that therefore the two convictions are based on the same offense. We agree.").
27Bludsworth v. State, 98 Nev. 289, 292, 646 P.2d 558, 560 (1982) ("The child abuse and murder counts were properly joined since they arose out of the same series of acts.").
28NRS 200.210 Killing of unborn quick child; penalty. A person who willfully kills an unborn quick child, by any injury committed upon the mother of the child, commits manslaughter and shall be punished for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 10 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000.
29Glenn Puit, DEATH OF FETUS: Las Vegas man faces charges: Viability of fetus to survive outside womb might be key, Las Vegas Review-Journal (December 09, 2002).
30Sheriff, Washoe County, Nev. v. Encoe, 110 Nev. 1317, 1322, 885 P.2d 596, 599 (1994) ("NRS 200.508 does not apply to a pregnant woman's ingestion of illegal substances and the resulting transmission of these substances to her child through the umbilical cord. We conclude that if the Nevada legislature intended to criminalize prenatal substance abuse, it would have enacted a statute to that effect.").
31Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act, 42 USC Sec. 5101, Title 42, Chapter 67.
32NRS 432B.220 Persons required to make report; when and to whom reports are required; any person may make report; report and written findings if reasonable cause to believe death of child caused by abuse or neglect.
33NRS 432B.230 Method of making report; contents.
34Rice v. State, 113 Nev. 1300, 1307, 949 P.2d 262, 266 (1997) ("The child abuse statute is a general intent crime.")
35Childers v. State, 100 Nev. 280, 283, 680 P.2d 598, 599 (1984) ("The word "willfully", when applied to the intent with which an act is done or omitted, as used in my instructions, implies simply a purpose or willingness to commit the act or to make the omission in question. The word does not require in its meaning any intent to violate law, or to injure another, or to acquire any advantage.")
36NRS 432B.090 "Physical injury" defined. "Physical injury" includes, without limitation:
- A sprain or dislocation;
- Damage to cartilage;
- A fracture of a bone or the skull;
- An intracranial hemorrhage or injury to another internal organ;
- A burn or scalding;
- A cut, laceration, puncture or bite;
- Permanent or temporary disfigurement; or
- Permanent or temporary loss or impairment of a part or organ of the body.
37Levi v. State, 95 Nev. 746, 748, 602 P.2d 189, 190 (1979) ("In our view, the phrase, "serious permanent disfigurement," includes cosmetic disfigurement as well as an injury that is functionally disabling.")
38Bludsworth v. State, 98 Nev. 289, 290, 646 P.2d 558, 559 (1982) ("A number of expert witnesses testified that Eric was a victim of the battered child syndrome, an accepted diagnosis signifying serious and persistent physical abuse. The expert opinion that the victim was a battered child, coupled with some additional proof, has been held sufficient to permit a jury to conclude that the child injury occurred "at the culpable hands of its parents." People v. Henson, 33 N.Y.2d 63, 349 N.Y.S.2d 657, 665-66, 304 N.E.2d 358, 366-67 (N.Y.1973); accord People v. Barnard, 93 Mich.App. 590, 286 N.W.2d 870 (1979).").
Rice v. State, 113 Nev. 1300, 1309, 949 P.2d 262, 268 (1997) ("The jury easily could have concluded that from the time the baby was burned four or five days prior to the hospital admission, he was in desperate need of medical assistance for the serious burns and what Dr. Clark described upon admission as his severe malnutrition and "wasted appearance." Not only could the jurors conclude, from the expert testimony and their own life experiences, that these physical injuries necessitated immediate medical care, but that the pain and disruption in the infant's eating and sleeping habits could not have been overlooked by any reasonable person. As to Christie's assertion that she was afraid of Cody and the possible loss of her child if medical assistance was sought, the jury could have discounted this testimony or believed that Christie has an overriding responsibility to the infant in spite of these possible consequences. There was more than ample evidence to establish that Christie knew or should have known that the infant was in need of medical care, that she unreasonably delayed in providing it to him, and that the delay caused the infant to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering. Therefore, the evidentiary concerns of the Martineau decision were met.").
Matschke J, Voss J, Obi N, G�rndt J, Sperhake JP, P�schel K, Glatzel M., Nonaccidental head injury is the most common cause of subdural bleeding in infants <1 year of age, Pediatrics. 2009 Dec;124(6):1587-94. ("Subdural bleeding (SDB) in infants is considered an essential symptom of nonaccidental head injury (NAHI).").
39NRS 432B.070 "Mental injury" defined. "Mental injury" means an injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity or the emotional condition of a child as evidenced by an observable and substantial impairment of his ability to function within his normal range of performance or behavior.
40Rees CA, Understanding emotional abuse, Arch Dis Child. 2010 Jan;95(1):59-67. ("Difficulties in recognition, definition and legal proof put children at risk of remaining in damaging circumstances.").
41Another defense to the child abuse statute is that the law is unconstitutionally vague, but the Nevada Supreme Court has rejected this argument in Bludsworth v. State, 98 Nev. 289, 293, 646 P.2d 558, 560 (1982) ("Our statute, as applied to these appellants, is clearly constitutional. A criminal statute is unconstitutionally vague only if one cannot reasonably understand that contemplated conduct is proscribed.").
42NRS 432B.020 "Abuse or neglect of a child" defined.
- "Abuse or neglect of a child" means, except as otherwise provided in subsection 2:
(a) Physical or mental injury of a nonaccidental nature;
(b) Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation; or
(c) Negligent treatment or maltreatment as set forth in NRS 432B.140,
→of a child caused or allowed by a person responsible for his welfare under circumstances which indicate that the child's health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm.
- A child is not abused or neglected, nor is his health or welfare harmed or threatened for the sole reason that his: (a) Parent delivers the child to a provider of emergency services pursuant to NRS 432B.630, if the parent complies with the requirements of paragraph (a) of subsection 3 of that section; or
- As used in this section, "allow" means to do nothing to prevent or stop the abuse or neglect of a child in circumstances where the person knows or has reason to know that a child is abused or neglected.
(b) Parent or guardian, in good faith, selects and depends upon nonmedical remedial treatment for such child, if such treatment is recognized and permitted under the laws of this State in lieu of medical treatment. This paragraph does not limit the court in ensuring that a child receive a medical examination and treatment pursuant to NRS 62E.280.
43NRS 432B.150 Excessive corporal punishment may constitute abuse or neglect. Excessive corporal punishment may result in physical or mental injury constituting abuse or neglect of a child under the provisions of this chapter.
44Martineau v. Angelone, 25 F.3d 734, 741 (9th Cir. 1994) ("Dr. Krugman's testimony, even if properly admitted, is not sufficient to prove delay beyond a reasonable doubt. His opinion was based on an abstract theory of how child abusers behave, rather than on the medical evidence available in this case. It therefore has little, if any, probative value on the issue of how appellants in particular behaved, especially given the lack of evidence that appellants abused Michelle and the fact that none of the other doctors testified that any significant time elapsed between Michelle's symptoms and appellants' decision to call 911.")
45NRS 200.5085 Use of nonmedical remedial treatment. A child is not abused or neglected, nor is his health or welfare harmed or threatened for the sole reason that his parent or guardian, in good faith, selects and depends upon nonmedical remedial treatment for such child, if such treatment is recognized and permitted under the laws of this State in lieu of medical treatment.
46Runion v. State, 116 Nev. 1041, 1046, 13 P.3d 52, 55 - 56 (2000) ("At common law, an individual had a right to defend himself against apparent danger to the same extent as if the danger had been real, provided he acted upon a reasonable apprehension of danger. Specifically, homicide was justified where: (1) the defendant was not the aggressor in the encounter; (2) the defendant was confronted with actual and immediate danger of unlawful bodily harm or he reasonably believed that there was immediate danger of such a harm; and (3) the use of such force was necessary, in a proportionately reasonable amount, to avoid this danger. Nevada's self-defense statutory framework has existed for over seventy years. See NRS 200.120, 200.130, 200.160, and 200.200. NRS 200.120 states that "[j]ustifiable homicide is the killing of a human being in necessary self-defense." NRS 200.120 (emphasis added). This language seems to state that homicide is justified only when a person is in actual danger. NRS 200.160 states that homicide is "also" justified when a person reasonably believes that he is about to be seriously injured or killed and "there is imminent danger of such design being accomplished." NRS 200.160(1) (emphasis added). Finally, NRS 200.200 states that if a person kills another in self-defense "it must appear that: 1. The danger was so urgent and pressing that, in order to save his own life, or to prevent his receiving great bodily harm, the killing of the other was absolutely necessary ...." NRS 200.200(1) (emphasis added). While the phrase "absolutely necessary" seems to indicate that self-defense is a justification for homicide where a person is actually in imminent danger, the use of the word "appear" implies that self-defense may be a justification for homicide in instances where a person reasonably believes that he is about to be seriously injured or killed but he is mistaken in that belief."
47NRS 432B.090 "Physical injury" defined.
48NRS 200.508 Abuse, neglect or endangerment of child: Penalties; definitions.
49Nevada has specific laws against female genital mutilation as well: NRS 200.5083.
50Nevada battery can be as minor as a misdemeanor if no substantial injuries occurred and no weapon was used.
51"Contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Nevada" statutes.
52NRS 200.5081 District attorney may refer person suspected of violating NRS 200.508 for treatment or counseling.
53NRS 179.245 Sealing records after conviction: Persons eligible; petition; notice; hearing; order.
54NRS 179.255 Sealing records after dismissal or acquittal: Petition; notice; hearing; order.
55Nevada Senate Bill 296 (2005).
56NRS 432.100 Establishment, maintenance and contents; release of information under certain circumstances; access to information.
57NRS 179B.200 Establishment of registry; contents; search of registry by law enforcement officer; access by other persons; contents deemed record of criminal history for limited purposes.
58California Penal Code 273d
("Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of a crime of domestic violence, a crime of stalking, or a crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment is deportable.")
618 U.S.C. § 1227 (a)(2)(A)(i)
62Several acts involving child abuse have been held by various courts to constitute CIMTs:
Guerrero de Nodahl v. INS, 407 F.2d 1405 (9th Cir. 1969) (the infliction of cruel or inhuman corporal punishment on a child is a CIMT in California).
Garcia v. Attorney General, 329 F.3d 1217 (11th Cir. 2003) (aggravated child abuse in Florida was a CIMT).
United States v. Grey, 87 Fed. Appx. 254, 2004 WL65248 (3rd Cir. 2004); Gonzalez-Alvarado v. INS, 39 F.3d 245 (9th Cir. 1994); Castle v.INS, 541 F.2d 1064 (4th Cir. 1976); Marciano v. INS, 450 F.2d 1022 (8th Cir. 1971) (statutory rape is a CIMT).
63INA § 237(a)(2)(A)
65Nevada A.B. 108 (January 29, 1975) ("AN ACT relating to child abuse and neglect . . . establishing statewide central registry for child abuse and neglect...)".
67Nevada A.B. 861 (June 2, 1987).
68History of Child Welfare in Nevada, Prepared by Dr. Thom Reilly, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; College of Urban Affairs 19 October 1999.
69NRS 201.230 Lewdness with child under 14 years; penalties.
70NRS 200.710 Unlawful to use minor in producing pornography or as subject of sexual portrayal in performance.
71NRS 200.364 Definitions.
72Child Abuse and Neglect Cases Substantiated and Indicated- Victim Characteristics: 1990 to 2006, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Statistics and Research, Child Maltreatment 2006, annual.
73Andrea J. Sedlak, Jane Mettenburg, Monica Basena, Ian Petta, Karla McPherson, Angela Greene, & Spencer Li, Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ("Using the stringent Harm Standard definition, more than 1.25 million children (an estimated 1,256,600 children) experienced maltreatment during the NIS-4 study year (2005-2006). This corresponds to one child in every 58 in the United States. A large percentage (44%, or an estimated total of 553,300) were abused, while most (61%, or an estimated total of 771,700) were neglected. The NIS classifies children in every category that applies, so the components (here and throughout the NIS findings) sum to more than 100%. Most of the abused children experienced physical abuse (58% of the abused children, an estimated total of 323,000). Slightly less than one-fourth were sexually abused (24%, an estimated 135,300), while slightly more than one-fourth were emotionally abused (27%, an estimated 148,500). Almost one-half of the neglected children experienced educational neglect (47% of neglected children, an estimated 360,500 children), more than one-third were physically neglected (38%, an estimated 295,300 children), and one-fourth were emotionally neglected (25%, an estimated 193,400 children).")
74Refer to our information page on Nevada DUI.
75For more information about bail in Nevada, go to our informational article on the Las Vegas bail procedures.