Other than the Nevada crime of murder, sexual assault ("rape") is the most serious offense in this state. If you get convicted, in addition to facing a lifelong prison term, you're required to register for life as a sex offender. And even if you eventually get paroled, it will be hard ever to land a job with this on your record.
Our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers have three decades of combined experience in defending sexual assault and rape cases and achieving favorable resolutions often without a trial. For your convenience we've summarized below the basics of Nevada sexual assault law including the definition, possible penalties, and how we can help.
The legal definition of sexual assault ("rape") in Las Vegas, Nevada under NRS 200.366 is when a person "subjects another person to sexual penetration, or who forces another person to make a sexual penetration on himself or herself or another, or on a beast, against the will of the victim or under conditions in which the perpetrator knows or should know that the victim is mentally or physically incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of his or her conduct."
In short, it's illegal for you to have sex with someone:
In cases where someone unlawfully touches another person in a sexual manner that falls short of sexual assault (such as groping), he/she might then be charged with the lesser Nevada crime of open and gross lewdness (NRS 201.210)
For general information about Nevada child sex crimes, see our article on Nevada child sex crimes.
Even though rape is one of the most serious crimes you can be accused of, it also lends itself to several effective defenses. The following are just some strategies defense lawyers may employ in Nevada sexual assault cases:
False allegations: Judges and prosecutors know that innocent people can get falsely accused of rape whether it's out of anger, revenge, jealousy, a way to win child custody, or just an honest misunderstanding. If your attorney can raise a reasonable doubt by showing that someone may have falsely accused you, your sexual assault case should be dismissed.
Lack of proof: Unless there was video recording the incident, sexual assault can be extremely difficult to prove because it often comes down to a case of "he says, she says." As long as the state cannot show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, sexual assault charges should be dropped.
Consent: Rape is forcing someone to have sex against their will (or when they're too incapacitated to resist). Therefore, if your attorney can show that the "victim" gave his/her consent to have sex, then Nevada sexual assault charges cannot stand.
Sexual assault is a category A felony in Clark County, and anyone convicted of it will usually be ordered to register as a sex offender in Nevada. The standard punishment for a rape conviction in Las Vegas depends upon:
If substantial bodily harm results from the rape, then a Nevada judge may impose a sentence of:
But if no substantial bodily harm results from the rape, then the sentence is life in prison with the possibility of parole after ten years.
If the rape causes substantial bodily harm to the victim, then the sentence will be life in prison without the possibility of parole. Otherwise, the judge will impose life with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years.
If substantial bodily harm occurs from the rape, then the sentence for rape in Nevada will be life in prison without the possibility of parole. But if there's no harm, then it's life in prison with the possibility of parole after thirty-five years.
If someone has already been convicted of sexual assault (or a sexual offense against a child), and then later gets convicted of sexual assault in Nevada with a child under sixteen, the judge will impose life without the possibility of parole.
It's not uncommon for rape charges to get "pled down" to lesser offenses. Suppose, for example, that the state has evidence a victim was physically assaulted. But they lack the evidence to prove sexual assault specifically. The prosecution may be willing to reduce a rape charge down to the Nevada crime of battery
(NRS 200.481) as part of a plea bargain. The sentence is lower, and you might not have to register as a sex offender in Nevada.
If you've been arrested for rape, then it's imperative you retain counsel as soon as possible to safeguard your rights, investigate the evidence, and try to negotiate with the state to get the case dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. For more information contact our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation.
To learn about rape laws in California, visit our page on
California sexual battery law. In addition, you may also find helpful information in our related articles on Nevada crime of murder, category A felony in Clark County, substantial bodily harm in Nevada, Nevada crime of battery (NRS 200.481), category D felony in Nevada, Nevada crime of Statutory Sexual Seduction (NRS 200.368), category C felony in Nevada, gross misdemeanor in Clark County, Nevada crime of Spousal Rape in Nevada (NRS 200.373), Nevada crime of date rape (NRS 200.366), Nevada crime of Incest (NRS 201.180), and California sexual battery law.
If you or a loved one faces misdemeanor or felony charges, contact our Las Vegas NV criminal defense attorneys at (702) DEFENSE. We'd be glad to meet with you for a free consultation. We practice throughout Nevada, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno, Carson City, Boulder City, Mesquite and Laughlin.
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