There is a twenty (20) year statute of limitations for prosecutors to press charges for the Nevada crime of sexual assault (NRS 200.366). And if the purported victim of the rape files a police report within 20 years of the alleged rape, then there is no statute of limitations -- the D.A. can press charges anytime.
Currently Nevada lawmakers are considering Assembly Bill 142 (2019), which would eliminate any statute of limitations for bringing rape charges whenever the identity of the person accused of committing the crime is established by DNA evidence. This bill reflects the cultural climate of #MeToo and Time's Up.
Nevada sexual assault definition
Sexual assault (a.k.a. rape) is defined in Nevada as having penetrative sex without the other person's consent. After murder, it is the most serious crime in Nevada.
NRS 200.366 prohibits all types of non-consensual penetrative sexual activity, such as:
- vaginal intercourse or anal sex,
- fellatio, cunnilingus, or anilingus,
- inserting body parts or objects in a vagina or anus, or
- penetrative sexual acts with an animal
Note that non-consensual sexual touching that involves no penetration -- like groping -- is prosecuted not as rape but rather the Nevada crime of open and gross lewdness (NRS 201.210). If the other person is under 16, the perpetrator may instead face charges for the Nevada crime of lewdness with a minor (NRS 201.230).
Consent in Nevada sexual assault cases
A person indicates lack of consent to sex not only by saying no or shaking one's head no. Not giving consent is presumed when the person is too intoxicated or incapacitated to willingly give consent in the first place. This typically happens with the person is either:
- drunk or high,
- passed out,
- under general anesthesia,
- overdosed on drugs,
- being in a coma or vegetative state, or
- extremely mentally disabled
Rape is charged the same way no matter whether the people involved are strangers or in a relationship. Rape can even occur between spouses, though arguably it is not criminal in Nevada for one spouse to have non-consensual sex with the other as long as it is not forced (such as if the other spouse is asleep).
Penalties in Nevada sexual assault cases
Rape is a category A felony in Nevada. The penalties turn on the victim's age, whether the victim was injured, and the defendant's criminal history:
Age of victim in Nevada sexual assault case
Penalties for Nevada sexual assault conviction
16 or older
Under 16, and the defendant has no prior conviction(s) of sexual assault or a sexual offense against a child
Under 16, and the defendant has a prior conviction(s) of sexual assault or a sexual offense against a child
Rape convictions cannot be sealed from defendants' criminal records in Nevada.
NRS 171.083 No limitation for sexual assault or sex trafficking if written report filed with law enforcement officer during period of limitation; effect of disability on period of limitation.
1. If, at any time during the period of limitation prescribed in NRS 171.085 and 171.095, a victim of a sexual assault, a person authorized to act on behalf of a victim of a sexual assault, or a victim of sex trafficking or a person authorized to act on behalf of a victim of sex trafficking, files with a law enforcement officer a written report concerning the sexual assault or sex trafficking, the period of limitation prescribed in NRS 171.085 and 171.095 is removed and there is no limitation of the time within which a prosecution for the sexual assault or sex trafficking must be commenced.
2. If a written report is filed with a law enforcement officer pursuant to subsection 1, the law enforcement officer shall provide a copy of the written report to the victim or the person authorized to act on behalf of the victim.
3. If a victim of a sexual assault or sex trafficking is under a disability during any part of the period of limitation prescribed in NRS 171.085 and 171.095 and a written report concerning the sexual assault or sex trafficking is not otherwise filed pursuant to subsection 1, the period during which the victim is under the disability must be excluded from any calculation of the period of limitation prescribed in NRS 171.085 and 171.095.
4. For the purposes of this section, a victim of a sexual assault or sex trafficking is under a disability if the victim is insane, intellectually disabled, mentally incompetent or in a medically comatose or vegetative state.
5. As used in this section, “law enforcement officer” means:
(a) A prosecuting attorney;
(b) A sheriff of a county or the sheriff's deputy;
(c) An officer of a metropolitan police department or a police department of an incorporated city; or
(d) Any other person upon whom some or all of the powers of a peace officer are conferred pursuant to NRS 289.150 to 289.360, inclusive.
NRS 171.085 Limitations for felonies. Except as otherwise provided in NRS 171.080, 171.083, 171.084 and 171.095, an indictment for:
1. Theft, robbery, burglary, forgery, arson, sex trafficking, a violation of NRS 90.570, a violation punishable pursuant to paragraph (c) of subsection 3 of NRS 598.0999 or a violation of NRS 205.377 must be found, or an information or complaint filed, within 4 years after the commission of the offense.
2. Sexual assault must be found, or an information or complaint filed, within 20 years after the commission of the offense.
3. Any felony other than the felonies listed in subsections 1 and 2 must be found, or an information or complaint filed, within 3 years after the commission of the offense.