In Nevada, the crime of statutory sexual seduction (also called statutory rape) is when an adult engages in sexual penetration with a minor who is
- 14 or 15 years of age and
- at least four years younger than the perpetrator.
Nevada’s legal age of consent for sex is 16 years of age.
Under NRS § 200.368, statutory sexual seduction is a felony when the defendant is at least 21 or has prior sex crime convictions. Otherwise, it is treated as a gross misdemeanor. All such convictions require the defendant to register as a sex offender. It makes no difference if the sex was consensual or even if the minor actually initiated the sexual activity.
Below our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers discuss:
- 1. What is the legal definition of statutory rape in Nevada?
- 2. Does Nevada have a Romeo & Juliet Law?
- 3. What are the penalties for statutory sexual seduction?
- 4. What are the defenses?
- 5. Is sex registration required?
- 6. Can the criminal record be sealed?
- 7. Are there immigration consequences?
- 8. Related sexual offenses
1. What is the legal definition of statutory rape in Nevada?
Statutory rape — called statutory sexual seduction in Nevada — has four “elements” that the prosecutor must prove in court:
- The defendant and victim have penetrative sex;
- The defendant is at least 18 years old;
- The victim is 14 or 15 years old; and
- The defendant is at least four years older than the victim.
Penetrative sex comprises any of the following sex acts:
- Ordinary sexual intercourse (vaginal intercourse),
- Anal intercourse,
- Fellatio, or
- Penetration with fingers or objects
If no penetrative sex occurs, adults who have sexual contact with a minor instead face sexual abuse charges for lewdness with a child (NRS 201.230).
The rationale behind statutory seduction laws is that young teens lack the intellectual and emotional capacity to consent to penetrative sex. In Nevada, 16 is the age of consent (NRS 200.364).1
2. Does Nevada have a Romeo & Juliet law?
Yes. Nevada has a Romeo & Juliet law, also called a “close-in-age exception” to statutory sexual seduction. Minors ages 14 and 15 may have sex with teens less than four years older than them.2
Example: Rex is 18 years old. He has consensual sex with Kyla, who is 15. Even though Kyla is under the age of consent, Rex is not committing statutory rape. This is because their age difference is less than four years. Rex and Kyla fall under the “close-in-age exception.”
If Rex in the above example was 19 years old, then he would be committing statutory sexual seduction. That is because he would then be at least four years older than Kyla.
3. What are the penalties for statutory sexual seduction?
The punishment for statutory sexual seduction in Nevada under NRS 200.368 depends on the age of the defendant.
|Age of defendant||
Nevada penalties for statutory rape
|21 or older||Category B felony:
|Under 21||Gross misdemeanor if the defendant has no prior sex crime convictions:
Category D felony if the defendant has a prior sex crime conviction:
4. What are the defenses?
Three common arguments to fight statutory sexual seduction charges include:
- The defendant was falsely accused;
- The alleged victim was old enough to consent; or
- No penetrative sex occurred
Statutory rape is a strict liability crime. This means that defendants may be convicted even if they believed the victim was old enough to consent. It makes no difference if the victim lies about his/her age to the defendant.4
4.1. The defendant was falsely accused
Sometimes people get falsely accused of statutory sexual seduction out of anger, revenge, or a misunderstanding. In some cases, these false accusers leave a trail of damning voicemails and text messages that reveal their motives for lying.
A criminal defense attorney’s job would be to conduct a thorough investigation to unearth all the available evidence. If the prosecutors see that the accuser may be untrustworthy, they may drop the charges.
4.2. The alleged victim was old enough to consent
NRS 200.368 charges do not apply if the victim was either:
- At least 16 years old, or
- 14 or 15 years old and less than four years younger than the defendant
If the defendant can show through records and IDs that the victim was old enough to consent, the charges should be dropped.
4.3. No penetrative sex occurred
Statutory rape only applies to situations involving penetrative sexual relations. And the prosecution may have insufficient evidence to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.
Assuming there is no physical evidence such as video, recorded confessions, or medical records, the D.A. may have to drop the case for lack of proof.
5. Is sex registration required?
Yes. Defendants convicted of felony statutory sexual seduction must register as Tier III sex offenders for life. And defendants convicted of gross misdemeanor statutory rape must register as Tier I sex offenders for 15 years.5
6. Can the criminal record be sealed?
It depends. Gross misdemeanor convictions of statutory sexual seduction can be sealed two years after the case ends. But felony convictions may never be sealed.6
If the statutory rape charge gets dismissed, the defendant can petition for a record seal right away. It makes no difference whether the original charge was for a felony or a gross misdemeanor.7
Learn about how to get a Nevada record seal.
7. Are there immigration consequences?
Yes, statutory rape in Nevada is an aggravated felony and therefore a deportable offense.8 Therefore, non-citizens accused of it should consult with an attorney right away. Getting the case dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge may remove the deportation risk.
8. Related sexual offenses
8.1. Sexual conduct between students and school employees
Nevada prohibits sexual conduct between school employees (such as teachers) and pupils who are at least 16 years old. Student-teacher sex is a category C felony, carrying:
- 1 – 5 years in prison, and
- Possibly up to $10,000 in fines
Learn more about high school student-teacher sex laws (NRS 201.540) and college student-teacher sex laws (NRS 201.550).
8.2. Date rape
Date rape is a type of sexual assault where the accused takes advantage of the victim while on a date. It is punished the same as sexual assault, which carries a life sentence. Parole may be possible depending on the circumstances of the case.
Incest (NRS 201.180) occurs when two relatives closer than second cousins (or cousins by half-blood) get married or have sexual intercourse. It makes no difference if the sex is consensual.
Incest is a category A felony punishable by two years to life in prison with a possible $10,000 fine. Though the judge may grant probation instead.
For additional help…
Arrested for a sexual act with an underage person? Contact our Nevada criminal defense lawyers for legal advice. We are a Las Vegas law firm that defends against all types of charges from DUI to domestic violence. For more information see our articles on oral copulation with a minor and child sex crimes.
Arrested in California? Visit our page on Penal Code 261.5 PC.
Arrested in Colorado? Visit our page on CRS 18-3-402.
- Nevada Revised Statute 200.364; NRS 200.368.
- NRS 200.364.
- NRS 200.368.
- Jenkins v. State, (1994) 110 Nev. 865, 877 P.2d 1063 (1994). See also Thomas v. Sheriff, Clark County, (1973) 89 Nev. 17, 504 P.2d 1313; Cooper v. State, (1979) 95 Nev. 114, 590 P.2d 166.
- NRS 179D.097; NRS 179D.113; NRS 179D.117. See also Austin v. State, (2007) 123 Nev. 1, 151 P.3d 60, 123 Nev. Adv. Rep. 1.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.
- See Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions, (2017) 581 U.S. ___ , 137 S. Ct. 1562.