It may be easy to accuse people of rape in the post-#MeToo era, but it is still very difficult for prosecutors to prove.
Our Las Vegas sexual assault attorneys tackle each rape allegation piece-by-piece in an effort
- to destroy the accuser’s credibility,
- to undermine the D.A.’s evidence, and
- to show that the only victim in this case is you – the falsely accused.
1. How can I fight rape charges in Nevada?
The three common defenses to sexual assault charges are:
- The sex was consensual: Perhaps the accuser regretted the sex after the fact and is falsely accusing you to make themselves feel better about their choices. Or perhaps watching a TV show or news report about rape made the accuser second-guess what happened and wrongly believe they were raped.
- The accuser is lying: Maybe the accuser is angry at you and is trying to get their revenge on you by fabricating rape allegations. Sometimes accusers even self-inflict their own wounds to back up their story.
- There was no penetration: If no non-consensual penetration occurred, then by definition no sexual assault occurred. If the most that prosecutors can prove is non-consensual groping, then the felony sex assault charges should be reduced to open or gross lewdness – which is usually a gross misdemeanor.1
Ultimately, the district attorney has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed rape in order for you to be convicted. This is a very high bar, especially since there are usually no third-party eyewitnesses or video recordings of the alleged rape.
As long as your criminal defense attorney can show the court that insufficient evidence exists to sustain a conviction, the charge should be dropped.
2. What is the statute of limitations in rape cases?
In Nevada, prosecutors can bring sexual assault charges at any time if:
- There is DNA evidence identifying the suspect; or
- The alleged victim filed a police report within 20 years of the alleged sexual assault.
Otherwise, the statute of limitations to bring Nevada rape charges is 20 years after the incident.2
In reality, prosecutors have a more difficult time proving sexual assault the more time that goes by. Memories get distorted, and physical evidence can disappear or get contaminated. And juries tend to be suspicious in cases where the accusers and prosecutors waited a long time to press charges.
3. What is the worst-case scenario after a sexual assault conviction?
The penalties for rape in Nevada include life in Nevada State Prison. And even if you eventually get released on parole, you would need to register as a Tier III sex offender for the rest of your life – which could greatly impede your ability to work and lead a normal life.
Whether people convicted of rape are eligible for parole depends on the age of the alleged victim:
Nevada rape penalties
(in addition to sex offender registration)
|16 years old or older||If the alleged victim sustained substantial bodily harm, then: |
If there was no substantial bodily harm, then the sentence is life in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years.
|14- or 15-years old||Life in prison with no parole if either: |
Otherwise, the penalty would be life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
|13-years old or younger||Life in prison with no parole if either: |
Otherwise, the penalty would be life in prison with the possibility of parole after 35 years.3
All this is why anyone accused of rape in Nevada must retain experienced criminal defense counsel to fight the case. It may be very possible to achieve the best-case scenario of a charge reduction or dismissal by showing the prosecutors that their evidence is too unreliable, inadequate, or holey to justify a conviction.
4. Can I be released on bail?
Nevada judges are reluctant to grant bail release to defendants accused of sexual assault. But our Las Vegas sexual assault lawyers would still demand a bail hearing to fight for your release. And if the judge still refuses, we may be able to work out a compromise where you get released on house arrest.
5. How can a Las Vegas sexual assault lawyer help my case?
Our Nevada criminal defense attorneys take the following five measures to fight sexual assault charges:
- Gather all the evidence available that shows or suggests that you are innocent, such as alibis, surveillance video, and eyewitness accounts;
- Impeach the accusers’ credibility by unearthing their motivations to lie, which is often found in angry text messages, voicemails, and emails they left;
- Scrutinize any physical evidence – such as rape kits – for signs of contamination or mishandling by the lab techs;
- Negotiate aggressively with prosecutors for a substantial charge reduction or dismissal; and
- Go to trial (if necessary) and demonstrate to the jury that the prosecution lacks enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
We understand how high the stakes are after being charged with rape. Simply being accused can do permanent damage to your reputation. So we fight these allegations on every possible front in pursuit of the best resolution possible in your case.
If you have been arrested for rape in Nevada, contact our Las Vegas sexual assault lawyers today to discuss your case and how we will fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
- See, for example: Honea v. State, (2020) 466 P.3d 522, 136 Nev. Adv. Rep. 32; Vega v. State, (2010) 126 Nev. 332, 236 P.3d 632, 126 Nev. Adv. Rep. 33.
- NRS 171.083.
- NRS 200.366.