"Age of Consent" Laws in Nevada

Age of Consent in Nevada: 5 Things to Know

Top Las Vegas criminal defense attorney discusses the “age of consent” in Nevada. More info at https://www.shouselaw.com/nevada/age-consent.html or call Las Vegas Defense Group, L.L.C. for a FREE consultation at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE AGE OF CONSENT IN NEVADA You can find out from a quick Google search that Nevada’s age of consent is 16, but my office still gets lots of calls asking about what exactly that means, and if there are any exceptions. Here are five things to know: 1) Under NRS 200.368, no child in Nevada can legally consent to have sex unless he/she is sixteen years old. 2) The reasoning behind having an age of consent law is to protect young minors who may not possess the capacity to make such a big decision that could affect their physical and mental health. 3) Nevada’s age of consent laws apply not only to vaginal intercourse but also to all types of sexual conduct involving penetration. 4) Nevada is one of thirty-one states where the age of consent is 16. Eight states have the age of consent as 17. And the remaining eleven states, including the five bordering Nevada, have the age of consent as 18. 5) The Nevada crime of statutory rape (also called “statutory sexual seduction”) occurs when an adult age 18 or older has sexual penetration with someone age 15 or 14, and the child is at least 4 years younger than the adult. It makes no difference if the adult didn’t know that the child was under 16, or if the child initiated the sex. LAS VEGAS DEFENSE GROUP, LLC: Las Vegas Defense Group, L.L.C. represents clients all throughout Nevada including Las Vegas, Henderson, Washoe County, Reno, Carson City, Laughlin, Mesquite, Bunkerville, Moapa, Elko, Pahrump, Searchlight, Moapa Valley, Goodsprings, Boulder City, North Las Vegas, Beatty, and Tonopah. Our offices are located in Las Vegas and Reno: 2970 W. Sahara Ave. Las Vegas, NV 89102 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) fax: 702-974-0524 200 S. Virginia St. 8th floor Reno, NV 89501 (775) 348-9685 Learn more at https://www.shouselaw.com/nevada. Or call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).

NRS 200.364 is the Nevada law that sets the age of consent to sixteen (16). The statute states that all penetrative sex is illegal when it is:

committed by a person 18 years of age or older with a person who is 14 or 15 years of age and who is at least 4 years younger than the perpetrator.

Therefore, Nevada has a "Romeo and Juliet" exception. Children age 14 or 15 may have consensual sex with people less than four (4) years older.

An NRS 200.364 violation is prosecuted as "statutory rape" or "lewdness." Penalties include fines and time behind bars. But the worst punishment is Nevada sex offender registration.

Below our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss the age of consent in Nevada:

Children under age 16 in Nevada cannot consent to have sex.

1. What is the age of consent in Nevada?

Sixteen (16) is the age of consent in Nevada.1 Children under 16 cannot consent to penetrative sex. It is irrelevant if the child is mature. It is also irrelevant if the child initiates the sex.

"Age of consent" laws should deter adults from seeking underage sex partners. Sex carries major risks. And children are not mature enough to make these decisions.

2. What is statutory rape?

The legal term is statutory sexual seduction in Nevada (NRS 200.368). Statutory rape occurs when an adult:

  1. is at least 18-years-old,
  2. has consensual penetrative sex with a child aged 15 or 14, and
  3. is at least four (4) years older than the child2

This applies to all types of sexual conduct with penetration. It makes no difference if the adult and child are opposite- or same-sex. Examples of penetrative sex include:

Adults may not have sex with kids under 16 in Nevada. An exception is if they are within 4 years of age.
  • vaginal intercourse
  • oral sex (fellatio or cunnilingus)
  • anal sex
  • analingus
  • fingering
  • inserting body parts or objects (even just slightly) into a person's vagina or anus
  • penetrative sex with animals3

A person may be found guilty of statutory rape even if he/she genuinely believed the child was at least 16. It is not a defense to statutory rape charges that the child lied about being of age.4

The penalties depend on the age of the defendant. Statutory rape is a category B felony if the defendant is at least 21. The sentence is:

Penalties are less harsh when the defendant is younger than 21. Then statutory rape is a gross misdemeanor. The penalty carries:

Rape charges only apply when the sex is not consensual. The legal term for rape is sexual assault. Learn more about Nevada rape charges (NRS 200.366).6

3. Does Nevada have a "Romeo & Juliet" law?

Nevada has a "close in age" exception to statutory rape. Children age 14 and 15 can have consensual sex with people less than four (4) years older.

Example: Jamie is an 18-year-old high school senior. She is in a sexual relationship with 15-year-old sophomore Kelly. Jamie at 18 is an adult. Kelly at 15 is under consenting age. But Jamie is not guilty of statutory rape because their age difference is less than four (4) years. In short, Jamie and Kelly fall under the "close-in-age" exception.

This close-in-age exception is also called a "Romeo and Juliet" law. It is a relatively new law: It was instituted only in 2015.7

4. What is "lewdness with a minor under 16?"

Adults who molest children without penetration face lewdness charges. The most common lewdness example is groping.

Penalties for lewdness turn on the age of the child. It is a category A felony in Nevada if the child is under 14. A first offense carries:

16 sign
Children aged 16 are old enough to consent to sex in Nevada.
  • life in prison with the possibility of parole after ten (10) years,
  • possibly a fine of up to $10,000, and
  • sex offender status

There is no parole if the defendant has a prior lewdness conviction. It does not matter if the prior case was in Nevada or elsewhere.

Lewdness is a category B felony if the minor is 14 or 15. It carries the same penalty as statutory rape by a 21+ adult:

  • one to ten (1 - 10) years in prison,
  • possibly a fine of up to $10,000, and
  • sex offender status8   

Learn more about the Nevada crime of lewdness with a child under 16 (NRS 201.230).

5. What about sex between students and teachers?

Nevada forbids sex between students and school staff who are at least age 21. It makes no difference if the students are at the age of consent. There is always a power imbalance.9

The "sexual conduct" that NRS 201.540-.550 forbids includes:

  • penetrative sex (scroll up to section 2 for a full definition)
  • oral-genital contact
  • contact with unclothed genitals or pubic area to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of either person
  • sadomasochistic abuse
  • lewd exhibition of unclothed genitals
  • any lewd or lascivious act upon the body10

Student-teacher sex is a category C felony in Nevada. The punishment includes:

  • one to five (1 - 5) years in prison, and
  • possibly up to $10,000 in fines, and
  • sex offender status11

Statutory rape or lewdness charges would apply if the student is under 16. Scroll up to sections 2 and 4 for more information on these crimes.

dictionary definition of consent
Consent is not a statutory rape defense.

Learn more about the Nevada crime of student-teacher sex (NRS 201.540). And learn more about the Nevada crime of student-teacher sex in college (NRS 201.550).

6. Are there legal defenses?

Many people accused of sex crimes are innocent. Here are common defenses:

  • False accusations.  People may lie about being victims. The motivation may be anger, jealousy, or revenge. Or it may be to change the outcome of a child custody hearing. The defense attorney might be able to show that the accuser is lying. Valuable evidence may include old text messages and eyewitnesses. If the defense attorney can persuade the D.A. that the allegations were fake, the case should be dismissed.
  • Age of consent.  Statutory sex or lewdness charges apply only if the victim was under 16. If the D.A. fails to establish that the alleged victim was under age 16, the criminal case should be dismissed.
  • No sexual conduct occurred.  The accuser could have misconstrued the touching as sexual. Or the touching could have been accidental. The prosecution has to prove sexual touching occurred beyond a reasonable doubt. Charges should not stand if the defense attorney shows that the state's case is too weak.

Honestly believing the child was at least 16 is not a defense. It makes no difference if the child lied about his/her age.12

7. How old do you have to be to get married in Nevada?

The age of majority in Nevada is 18.13 People aged 18 or older get can get married without permission.

Children who are 17 or 16 may marry with the consent of their parent or guardian. The parent or guardian would need to be present at the wedding. Or else they would need to give their consent through a notarized document.14

Children under the age of consent may get married with permission. They need judicial approval and the consent of their parent or guardian.15

8. Raising the consenting age under NRS 200.364

Like Nevada, the majority of U.S. states recognize 16 as the age where children can consent to have sex. There is no initiative to raise the consenting age in Nevada. At least, not at this time.

Other lawmakers in other states are seeking to raise the age of consent to 18. Indiana State Rep. Karlee Macer proposed raising the consenting age from 16 to 18.16

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Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

Accused of violating Nevada age of consent laws? Call our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). The consultation is free. We may be able to reduce or drop your charges so your record stays clean.

Arrested in California? Go to our article on California statutory rape laws (Penal Code 261.5 PC). Also go to our article on California age of consent laws.

Arrested in Colorado? Go to our article about Colorado age of consent laws.

Legal References

  1. NRS 200.364(10); Manning v. Warden, Nev. State Prison, 99 Nev. 82, 86, 659 P.2d 847, 849 (1983)("NRS 200.364 now defines statutory sexual seduction and specifies sixteen as the age of consent for sexual intercourse, anal intercourse, cunnilingus or fellatio.")
  2. NRS 200.364; NRS 200.368.
  3. NRS 200.364.
  4. Jenkins v. State, 110 Nev. 865, 877 P.2d 1063, (1994)(A mistake of fact regarding the child's age is not a defense.)
  5. NRS 200.368. 
  6. NRS 200.366.
  7. NRS 200.364; Nevada Assembly Bill 49 (2015).
  8. NRS 201.230.
  9. NRS 201.540; NRS 201.550.
  10. NRS 201.520.
  11. NRS 201.540; NRS 201.550.
  12. NRS 200.364; NRS 200.368; Jenkins v. State, 110 Nev. 865, 877 P.2d 1063, (1994)(A mistake of fact regarding the child's age is not a defense.).
  13. NRS 129.020; State v. Hughes, 127 Nev. 626, 627, 261 P.3d 1067, 1070 (2011)("The Legislature regularly defines 'minor' as a person under 18 years of age.").
  14. NRS 122.020.
  15. NRS 122.025.
  16. Emily Ketterer, Bill to raise age of consent proposed again, Nuvo (Jan 5, 2018).

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