NRS 201.190 - "Commission of certain sexual acts in public" in Nevada


NRS 201.190 is the Nevada sex crime law which prohibits adults from having oral and anal sex in public. This statute states:

[A] person of full age who commits anal intercourse, cunnilingus or fellatio in public is guilty of a category D felony [in Nevada.]

The penalties for violating NRS 201.190 include:

But it may be possible to negotiate a Nevada plea bargain where the charge gets substantially reduced or possibly dismissed. Four potential defenses to this crime include:

  1. the defendant was falsely accused;
  2. the defendant was under 18;
  3. no oral or anal sex was performed; or
  4. the sex acts did not occur in public

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss Nevada's laws for commission of certain sexual acts in public under NRS 200.190:

couple kissing
Showing affecting in public is legal in Nevada. But having anal or oral sex in public is a felony.

1. Definition of "Commission of certain sexual acts in public"

NRS 201.190 prohibits adults age 18 and older from doing either of the following sexual acts in public:

  • anal intercourse;
  • cunnilingus; and/or
  • fellatio

This Nevada law has the clinical title, "Commission of certain sexual acts in public." For much of the twentieth century, earlier versions of this law were referred to by more provocative names, such as "sodomy" and "infamous crime against nature." Learn more about Nevada sodomy laws.1

Note that if the oral or anal sex is allegedly non-consensual, the defendant could instead face charges for the Nevada crime of rape (NRS 200.366). Or if the defendant's sex partner is under 16, the defendant could potentially face charges for the Nevada crime of statutory sexual seduction (NRS 200.368) and/or the Nevada crime of lewdness with a minor (NRS 201.230).

2. Penalties

Violating NRS 201.190 is a category D felony. The punishment includes:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison,
  • up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion), and
  • Tier I Nevada sex offender status

Tier I offenders are required to register as a sex offender in Nevada at least once a year for 15 years. However, they are not publicly searchable on the Nevada sex offender registry database unless the victim--if any--was a child.2

The prosecutor may be willing to reduce an NRS 201.190 charge down to a lesser offense with no sex registration requirements. Defendants who have a clean criminal history are more likely to get a favorable plea negotiation.

3. Defenses

The best way to fight Nevada charges of the "commission of certain sexual acts in public" turns on the specific facts of the case. Four possible defenses to this offense are:

sign
If a defendant can show he/she was falsely accused, the criminal charges should be dropped.
  1. the defendant was falsely accused;
  2. the defendant was under 18;
  3. no oral or anal sex was performed; or
  4. the sex acts did not occur in public

Note that it is not a defense that the sex was consensual or that no member of the public saw the sex.

3.1. The defendant was falsely accused

Perhaps the defendant was falsely accused by someone out of anger or revenge. Or perhaps the police officer arrested the defendant after mistakenly identifying him/her as the real culprit. Valuable evidence that could show the defendant was not the person performing the sex acts include:

  • video surveillance footage
  • eyewitness accounts
  • alibis that can testify that the defendant was not at the time and place of the alleged crime

3.2. The defendant was under 18

Only people 18 and older may be prosecuted with violating NRS 201.190.3 Defendant may be able to prove they are under 18 by showing their:

  • driver's license
  • birth certificate
  • passport
  • any other form of ID that shows a birthday

Note that juveniles caught having oral or anal sex in public would probably still be arrested. But they instead might face delinquency proceedings in a Nevada juvenile court.

3.3. No oral or anal sex acts were performed

NRS 201.190 specifically prohibits only anal intercourse, cunnilingus, and fellatio. Therefore, the charge should be dropped if the defense attorney can show that any sex acts that occurred do not fall under those categories. Video and eyewitness accounts would be helpful evidence.

If there is evidence that the defendant did engage in some other kind of sex act in public, he/she could instead face criminal charges for the Nevada crime of open or gross lewdness (NRS 201.210). A first-offense is only a gross misdemeanor in Nevada, which carries up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines. 

3.4. The sex acts did not occur in public

keyhole
Consensual sex acts that take place in private are not illegal.

NRS 201.190 specifically prohibits having anal or oral sex in public. If the defense attorney can show that any sexual activity occurred in private, then the charge should be dismissed.

As long as there is no video or eyewitness evidence of the defendant having anal or oral sex in public, the D.A. may have trouble proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

4. Deportation for "commission of certain sexual acts in public"

It is very possible that an immigration judge would consider an NRS 201.190 violation to be a crime involving moral turpitude in Nevada. Therefore, any non-citizens facing charges of this crime should seek out legal counsel right away.

Perhaps the attorney can get the charge changed to a non-deportable offense or possibly dismissed. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

5. Sealing criminal records for "commission of certain sexual acts in public"

People convicted of violating NRS 201.190 should be able to pursue a record seal five (5) years after the case closes. But if the defense attorney managed to get the case dismissed, the defendant can ask the court to seal it right away.4

Learn more about sealing criminal records in Nevada.

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Have you been arrested in Nevada for a criminal offense? Then speak to our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers for free to discuss your options. We are here 24/7 at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). We may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed without a trial and sex offender registration. But if necessary, we are ready to take the matter to a jury and fight zealously for a "not guilty" verdict.


Legal References

  1. NRS 201.190 Commission of certain sexual acts in public: Definition; penalty.  
    Except as otherwise provided in NRS 200.366 and 201.230, a person of full age who commits anal intercourse, cunnilingus or fellatio in public is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
    Allan v. State, 91 Nev. 650, 541 P.2d 656 (1975)("Full age" means at least 18.); In re Benites, 37 Nev. 145, 147 (1914)("It is sufficient, we believe, to say that the infamous crime against nature as mentioned by our statute should be no less in its scope that which was understood to be within the crime of sodomy as designated by Hawkins in his Pleas of the Crown, wherein he states, 'All unnatural carnal copulation seems to come under the notion of sodomy.'").
  2. Id.; NRS 179D.113.
  3. Allan v. State, 91 Nev. 650, 541 P.2d 656 (1975)("We have previously defined "full age" to mean 18 years.")
  4. NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.

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