Nevada Laws for "Child Sexual Abuse / Child Molestation"
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

Many instances of child sexual abuse never get reported ... just as unfortunate is that many people charged with child sexual abuse are falsely accused.  The penalties for child sex crimes can be as harsh as for murder, and defendants may have to register as sex offenders.    But a skilled Las Vegas criminal defense attorney may be able to achieve a favorable resolution.

This article provides an overview of all the child sex crimes in Nevada including statutory rape, sexual
assault, lewdness with a child under fourteen, child pornography, and child abuse.  Continue reading to learn the laws, punishments, and defense strategies.

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Nevada "Child Sexual Abuse & Molestation" Crimes

Nevada has five main laws prohibiting sexual abuse and molestation of children under eighteen years old.  Which of these five crime(s) a defendant may be charged with depends on the nature of the alleged abuse and the age of the child victim.  These five offenses, which are discussed in detail below, are:

  1. Statutory Sexual Seduction ("Statutory Rape") (NRS 200.368):  Statutory rape is any act of sexual penetration between an adult over seventeen and a child under sixteen.  This crime is also charged in cases where school employees over twenty allegedly have sexual relations with pupils under eighteen.  It's irrelevant whether the sex was consensual.
  2. Sexual Assault (NRS 200.366):  Sexual assault comprises acts of non-consensual sexual penetration regardless of the victim's age. The offense is more commonly known as "rape."
  3. Lewdness with a Minor under Fourteen (NRS 201.230):  This crime constitutes any touching of a child under fourteen that falls short of rape but is done with sexual intent.  It's immaterial whether the touching involved a sex organ.
  4. Child Pornography (NRS 200.710):  It's a crime to use a child under eighteen to make pornographic materials.
  5. Sexual Abuse & Exploitation (NRS 200.508):  This is a "catch-all" crime that comprises any situations of child sexual abuse not covered in other child Nevada sex crimes.

Note that people convicted of any sex crime may be required to register with the Nevada Sex Offender Registry.  And depending on the facts of the case, the person may be publicly searchable on the database.  Read more about Nevada Sex Offender Registry laws

Also note that child sex offenses are crimes of moral turpitude in Nevada.  This means that non-citizens convicted of child abuse or molestation may be deported from the U.S. unless the charges are lessened to non-removable offenses.  Read more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

Finally, note that defendants charged with having sexual intercourse with a minor face an additional charge for the Nevada crime of incest if the minor and defendant are related.  Depending on the case, the judge may punish incest with a prison sentence of two years to life.

"Statutory Sexual Seduction" Laws in Nevada
(NRS 200.368)

The legal definition of the Nevada crime of statutory sexual seduction ("statutory rape") is when an adult eighteen or older and a child fifteen or younger have either:

  • sexual intercourse,
  • oral sex,
  • anal sex,
  • digital sex ("fingering"), or
  • any other sexual act involving penetration

Note that it doesn't matter if the child consents to the sex.  This is because the age of consent in Nevada isn't until age sixteen.  Also note special rules apply to school employees or volunteers alleged to have sexual relations with pupils at their school ... the defendants may be convicted of statutory rape even if the child is aged sixteen or seventeen.

Defenses

Typical defenses to Nevada statutory rape charges include that the victim falsely accused the defendant, or that the victim is over age fifteen.

It is not a defense that the defendant honestly believed the child was at least sixteen, that the child lied about his/her age, or that the child initiated the sex.

Penalties

The punishment for statutory sexual seduction depends on the age of the defendant.  If the defendant is twenty-one or older, statutory rape is prosecuted as a category C felony in Nevada. The sentence includes:

  • one to five years in Nevada State Prison,
  • possible sex offender status, and
  • maybe up to $10,000 in fines

If the defendant is younger then twenty-one years old, then statutory rape is prosecuted as only a gross misdemeanor in Nevada.  The sentence includes:

  • up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines, and
  • possible sex offender status

Meanwhile, statutory rape between school/college workers and a pupil at the school ages sixteen or seventeen is a category C felony in Nevada.  The sentence includes:

  • one to five years in Nevada State Prison,
  • possible sex offender status, and
  • maybe up to $10,000 in fines

Finally, statutory rape between school workers and a pupil who is fourteen or fifteen years old is a category B felony in Nevada. The sentence includes:

  • one to six years in Nevada State Prison,
  • possible sex offender status, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines

For information about California statutory rape laws, read our article on California Penal Code 261.5 PC | statutory rape, California Penal Code 288.7 a & b PC | Sex with a Child Under 10, and California Penal Code 288a PC | Oral Copulation with a Minor.

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Sexual Assault ("Rape") Laws in Nevada
(NRS 200.366)

The legal definition of the Nevada crime of sexual assault ("rape") is when someone has nonconsensual sexual relations with another, including:

  • sexual intercourse,
  • oral sex,
  • anal sex,
  • digital sex ("fingering"), or
  • any other sexual act involving penetration

Nevada considers sex to be nonconsensual either when the sex is against the victim's will or when the victim is too incapacitated to give valid consent (such as when the victim is highly intoxicated or passed out).

Note that unlike statutory sexual seduction, people may be convicted of sexual assault even if the victim is over fifteen.  Also unlike statutory sexual seduction, it is a defense to sexual assault if the alleged victim consented to having sex.

Defenses

The main defense to rape is that the victim consented to the sex.  But if the child is under sixteen, then the defendant may instead face charges of statutory rape even if there was consent.  Another defense is that the victim made false allegations against the defendant ... it's not uncommon for people to try to get others into trouble out of anger or jealousy.

Penalties

Sexual assault is a category A felony in Nevada, and the defendant may be ordered to register as a sex offender.  The severity of the sentence depends on the child's age, whether the child sustained substantial bodily harm in Nevada, and the defendant's criminal history:

  • When the victim is sixteen or older and sustains substantial bodily harm from the rape, the punishment includes life in prison either without the possibility of parole or with the possibility of parole after fifteen years.  But if there's no substantial bodily harm, the sentence is life in prison with the possibility of parole after ten years.
  • When the victim is fourteen or fifteen and sustains substantial bodily harm from the rape, the sentence is life with no parole.  But if there's no substantial bodily harm, the sentence is life with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years.
  • When the victim is thirteen or younger and sustains substantial bodily harm from the rape, the sentence is life without parole.  But if there's no substantial bodily harm, the sentence is life with the possibility of parole after thirty-five years.
  • If the defendant has already been convicted of a child sex crime and gets convicted of rape with a child under sixteen, the sentence is life with no parole.

For information about California rape laws, read our article on California Penal Code 243.4 PC | sexual battery.

"Lewdness with a Child Under Fourteen" Laws in Nevada (NRS 201.230)

The legal definition of the Nevada crime of lewdness with a child
under fourteen
is when someone touches a child under fourteen for sexual purposes but with no physical penetration.  The molestation can involve any part of the body and not just a sex organ.

Therefore, "lewdness with a child under fourteen" is not rape because it doesn't involve any type of intercourse or penetration.  Also unlike rape, a lewdness charge is not valid unless the victim is thirteen or younger ... whereas there is no age limit in a rape charge in Nevada.

Defenses

A charge for lewdness with a child under fourteen should be dropped if the court does not find that the defendant touched the child with sexual intent.  Instead the defendant may face less serious charges for the Nevada crime of battery, which is the unlawful touching of another.

Penalties

Lewdness with a minor under fourteen is a category A felony in Nevada.  The sentence for a first offense is:

  • life in Nevada State Prison with the possibility of parole after ten years,
  • sex offender status, and
  • possibly a fine of up to $10,000

But if the defendant has previously been convicted of the same or similar offense, the judge will not allow the possibility of parole.

For information on California Child lewdness laws, read our article on California's Penal Code 288 | Lewd Acts with a Child.

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Child Pornography Laws in Nevada (NRS 200.710)

Using a minor to create sexually explicit visual representations is prosecuted as the Nevada crime of child pornography. These materials may take any form such as photographs, movies, or plays.

Defenses

The most effective defense to child pornography charges is that the defendant lacked intent to create child pornography.  For instance, a person who casts a minor in a pornographic photo shoot shouldn't be liable if he/she reasonably believed the minor was an adult.

Another possible defense is that the materials in question do not qualify as pornographic.  If the defense can show that the materials aren't sexual and instead have serious artistic, scientific or political value, then the charges may be dismissed.

Penalties

Producing child pornography is a category A felony in Nevada carrying a life sentence.  If the child was fourteen or older, there's the possibility of parole after five years.  If the child was younger than fourteen, there's the possibility of parole after ten years.  The defendant may also have to register as a sex offender.

For information about California child pornography laws, read our article on California Penal Code 311 PC | Child Pornography.

Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in Nevada law (NRS 200.508)

The legal definition of child sex abuse in Nevada is very broad.  If there's an alleged instance of child sexual abuse or exploitation that doesn't fall under the technical definitions of "statutory rape," "rape," "lewdness with a minor under 14," or "pornography," then the prosecution would instead bring general charges for the Nevada crime of child abuse, neglect or endangerment.

Defenses

The most common defense to charges of sexual abuse in Nevada is lack of proof.  As long as the prosecution can't prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then the case should be dismissed.

Penalties

Child sexual abuse is a category A felony in Nevada carrying life in prison.  If the sexual abuse was willful, there's the possibility of parole after fifteen years.  If the defendant "allowed" the sexual abuse to happen, the possibility of parole occurs after ten years.  The judge may also impose sex offender registration requirements.

For information about California child sex abuse laws, see our articles on California Penal Code 288.5 PC | Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child and California Penal Code 273 PC | Child Abuse Laws.

Charged with a Child Sex Offense? Call us for help...
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If you've been arrested on suspicion of child molestation and sexual abuse in Nevada, call our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (333-3673) for a free consultation.  We may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed so you stay off the sex offender registry.  And if necessary we can take the matter to trial and fight zealously for a "not guilty" verdict.

We represent client throughout Nevada, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Washoe County, Reno, Carson City, Laughlin, Mesquite, Bunkerville, Moapa, Elko, Pahrump, Searchlight and Tonopah.

For more information see our articles on Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers, substantial bodily harm in Nevada, gross misdemeanor in Nevada, category b felony in Nevada, Nevada crime of battery, Nevada sex offender registry laws, crimes against moral turpitude in Nevada, criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada, substantial bodily harm in Nevada, Nevada crime of statutory sexual seduction, Nevada crime of sexual assault, Nevada crime of lewdness with a child under fourteen, Nevada crime of child pornography, Nevada crime of child abuse, neglect or endangerment, California Penal Code 261.5 PC | statutory rape, California Penal Code 243.4 PC | sexual battery, on California's Penal Code 288 | Lewd Acts with a Child, California Penal Code 311 PC | Child Pornography, California Penal Code 288.5 PC | Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child, California Penal Code 288.7 a & b PC | Sex with a Child Under 10, California Penal Code 273 PC | Child Abuse Laws, and California Penal Code 288a PC | Oral Copulation with a Minor.

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