Selling or showing pornography to a child under 18 is a Nevada sex crime that carries misdemeanor penalties of up to six months in jail in Nevada.
But a seasoned Nevada criminal defense attorney may be able to reduce the charge or even get it dismissed.
This article summarizes the Nevada offense of selling or exhibiting obscene materials to minors. Read further to learn the law, possible defenses, and potential punishments in Las Vegas.
The legal definition of material that is "harmful to minors" in Nevada are items which in some way contain, describe or represent nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse while also:
- appealing to prurient, shameful or morbid interest of minors; and
- qualifying as patently offensive to prevailing standard in the adult community with respect to what is suitable material for minors; and
- lacking serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
The most common examples of material that are "harmful to minors" in Nevada include pornographic films or images. But such material can take many forms including:
- a book, pamphlet, magazine, newspaper, printed advertising or other printed or written material;
- a motion picture, photograph, picture, drawing, statue, sculpture or other visual representation or image; or
- a transcription, recording or live or recorded telephone message.
Consequently, a person faces prosecution for "exhibiting or selling obscene materials to minors" when someone knowingly commits any of the following acts to a person under eighteen years old:
- Distributing (or causing to be distributed) materials that are harmful to minors unless that person is a parent, guardian or spouse of the minor;
- Exhibiting for distribution to an adult in such a manner or location as to allow a minor to view or have access to examine material that is harmful to minors unless that person is the parent, guardian or spouse of the minor;
- Selling to a minor an admission ticket or pass for or otherwise admits a minor for monetary consideration to any presentation of material that is harmful to minors unless the minor is accompanied by his or her parent, guardian or spouse;
- Misrepresenting that he/she is the parent, guardian or spouse of a minor for the purpose of either a) distributing to the minor material that is harmful to minors, or b) obtaining permission of the minor to any presentation of material that is harmful to minors.
- Misrepresenting that he/she is eighteen or over for the purpose of obtaining either a) material that is harmful to minors, or b) admission to any presentation of material that is harmful to minors.
- Selling or renting movies which contain material that is harmful to minors on the premises of a business establishment open to minors unless the person creates an area within the establishment which prevents minors from observing the movies or any material that advertises the sale or advertising of the movies and is labeled "Adults Only" in a prominent and conspicuous location.
This law is why Las Vegas video stores keep any pornographic movies in a separate, closed off area. Note that NRS 201.265 does not apply to employees of state-run universities, community colleges, schools, museums or libraries who are acting in the course of their employment.
The vagueness of NRS 201.265 can actually work to a defendant's favor because it may make it more difficult for the prosecution to prove each element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The following are typical defenses a defense attorney may use to fight allegations of selling or exhibiting obscene materials to minors in Nevada.
- The materials weren't harmful: What qualifies as 'harmful to minors' is highly subjective. If a defense attorney can show that the material in question doesn't rise to the level of obscene and serves a greater artistic or scientific purpose, then criminal charges shouldn't stand.
- There was no criminal intent: It's no crime if a defendant accidentally shows a child obscene material or if the child happens upon obscene materials that the defendant had hidden away. As long as the prosecution can't prove that the defendant meant to sell or show the materials to the child, then the defendant isn't criminally liable.
- The police performed an illegal search: If Las Vegas Police found obscene materials through a search without having a warrant or probable cause, then the defense attorney can petition the judge to throw out all evidence found from the illegal search. Then if the judge grants the defense attorney's motion to suppress in Nevada, the D.A. may decide to drop the whole case for lack of proof.
The Las Vegas offense of selling or exhibiting obscene materials to minors is sentenced as a misdemeanor in Nevada. The maximum punishment a Las Vegas Court may impose for a misdemeanor in Nevada carries:
- 6 months in Clark County Detention Center (or other county jail), and/or
- $1,000 in fines
A defense attorney's first goal in any criminal case is to try to get the matter dismissed. But if the prosecution refuses to drop charges, a defense attorney would try to negotiate a plea bargain whereby the obscenity charge is reduced to something that carries less of a social stigma such as the Nevada crime of breaching the peace.
Once a defendant gets a misdemeanor conviction in Nevada, he/she has to wait for one (1) more year before the court may seal the criminal record. Once the record is sealed, the conviction won't show up in most background checks. Read more about sealing Nevada criminal records.
Arrested? Call . . . .
If you've been accused of exhibition or sale of obscene materials to minors under NRS 201.265, then schedule a free consultation with Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). They will try to negotiate a favorable resolution or else litigate the matter at trial and fight zealously for a "not guilty" verdict.
To learn about California Penal Code 288.2 | Harmful matter sent with the intent to seduce a minor, go to our information page California Penal Code 288.2 | Harmful matter sent with the intent to seduce a minor.