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Is sexual activity in public illegal in Las Vegas?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Dec 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

Yes. People who engage in sexual activity in public can be charged with the Nevada crime of open or gross lewdness and/or the Nevada crime of indecent exposure. And if strip club dancers and patrons touch each other in a way that violates Las Vegas strip club laws, they may face misdemeanor charges.

Open or Gross Lewdness in Nevada (NRS 201.210)

People can be charged with open or gross lewdness even if no one else actually saw the sexual activity. As long as it is done in a place where the public could see in, then the people involved can be prosecuted. Examples may include having sex behind an open window or on a park bench at night.

Common defenses to charges of open or gross lewdness are:

  • the defendant was entrapped,
  • the defendant was falsely accused, or
  • the location of the sexual activity was not in a place where the public could reasonably see in

A first-time conviction is a gross misdemeanor, carrying:

  • up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines, and
  • the requirement to register as a sex offender

A second or subsequent conviction is a category D felony, carrying:

  • 1 - 4 years in Nevada State Prison,
  • a possible fine of up to $5,000, and
  • the requirement to register as a sex offender

Note that if the sexual activity was done in the presence of a minor under 18 or a disabled person, a first-time conviction of open or gross lewdness is a category D felony, carrying:

  • 1 - 4 years in prison,
  • a possible fine of up to $5,000, and
  • the requirement to register as a sex offender

Indecent Exposure in Nevada (NRS 201.220)

People can be charged with indecent exposure for bearing the genitalia or anus of themselves or another person. As with open or gross lewdness, it is irrelevant whether this occurs in public or in a private space where the public could possibly see in.

Common defenses to charges of indecent exposure are:

  • the defendant was entrapped,
  • the defendant was falsely accused, or
  • no genitalia or anus was exposed

A first-time conviction is a gross misdemeanor, carrying:

  • up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines, and
  • the requirement to register as a sex offender

A second or subsequent conviction is a category D felony, carrying:

  • 1 - 4 years in prison,
  • a possible fine of up to $5,000, and
  • the requirement to register as a sex offender

Note that if the sexual activity was done in the presence of a minor under 18 or a disabled person, a first-time conviction of indecent exposure is a category D felony, carrying:

  • 1 - 4 years in prison,
  • a possible fine of up to $5,000, and
  • the requirement to register as a sex offender

Fondling crimes in Las Vegas strip clubs

Local Clark County law prohibits strip club dancers and patrons from fondling or caressing each other. Within Las Vegas city limits, the lap dances may not involve any sex, fondling, or caressing, but dancers may sit on the customers' laps. Outside of Las Vegas's city limits, rules are even stricter. Dancers may touch their clothed pubic or anal area to a patron's leg but nowhere else, including the patron's groin, pelvis, or feet.

People who violate these rules face misdemeanors charges in Clark County:

  • A first offense carries up to $250 in fines;
  • A second offense carries up to $500 in fines;
  • A third offense carries up to $950 in fines; and
  • A fourth or successive offense carries up to $1,000 in fines and at least one week to six months in jail.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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