NRS 200.4685 is the Nevada statute that prohibits child trafficking. Child trafficking comprises buying or selling a child, or permanently leaving a child with a non-relative.
Child trafficking is a category C felony in Nevada punishable by
- 1 to 5 years in prison, and
- a possible fine of up to $10,000 plus restitution.
However, there are various defenses that could get these charges reduced or dismissed altogether.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is child trafficking?
- 2. What are the best defenses?
- 3. What are the penalties under NRS 200.4685?
- 4. Are there immigration consequences?
- 5. Can my criminal record be sealed?
- 6. What is Nevada’s child trafficking statute?
1. What is child trafficking?
You can be convicted in Nevada of trafficking a child (under 18 years old) for either:
- selling or purchasing a child; or
- transferring a child to be bought or sold; or
- aiding any transaction where a parent (or person with custody) permanently abandons their child with a non-relative.
Obviously, child trafficking does not comprise giving your child up for adoption, foster care, or a guardianship as long as you go through the legal process.1
Nevada also has a Safe Haven law where you can legally surrender your baby as long as:
- the infant is less than 30 days old; and
- the infant shows no signs of abuse; and
- you leave the infant with a Safe Haven provider, which includes:
- police stations,
- fire stations,
- hospitals, and
- emergency medical services.2
Note that child trafficking is a separate offense from human trafficking, which is buying, selling, or transporting undocumented people (adults or children) for the purpose of:
- financial gain, or
- involuntary servitude or other illegal purposes.3
Child trafficking is also a separate offense from sex trafficking, which is causing or forcing a person (adult or child) to be a prostitute.4
2. What are the best defenses?
Nevada’s child trafficking law has been in effect only since 2015, and there are no court cases that have interpreted it. This allows criminal defense lawyers to be imaginative when fighting charges.
Based on our experience handling child neglect cases, one of the strongest defenses is to argue that there was no intention to permanently abandon the child. There are many valid reasons for a parent to leave a child with another person, such as:
- they were working,
- they were on vacation,
- they were incarcerated,
- they were deployed in the military, or
- they were in the hospital or otherwise incapacitated.
Another potential defense is false accusations. It is not uncommon for co-parents to levy false allegations at each other, especially during contentious custody disputes.
Sometimes, false allegations come from the child themself. The child might have been angry and did not understand the implications of their lies.
As with any criminal case, the D.A. has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt – a very high bar. As long as we can show that the state’s evidence is insufficient or problematic, criminal charges should not stand.
3. What are the penalties under NRS 200.4685?
Child trafficking is a category C felony in Nevada, carrying:
- a prison sentence of 1 to 5 years, and
- up to $10,000 in fines (at the court’s discretion).5
If applicable, the court can also order you to pay restitution for:
- the trafficking victims’ medical and psychological treatments,
- child care costs, including housing and transportation,
- property damage,
- expenses incurred by law enforcement in the case, and/or
- repatriation costs to the child’s home country.6
4. Are there immigration consequences?
Depending on the circumstances of the case, child trafficking may be deportable.7 Therefore, non-citizens charged with this crime should retain legal counsel immediately to try to get the charge dropped or changed to a non-deportable offense.
5. Can my criminal record be sealed?
Nevada law is unclear.
Category C convictions are usually sealable five years after the case closes. However, Nevada law prohibits the sealing of certain “crimes against children” – such as kidnapping.
Since child trafficking is similar to kidnapping, prosecutors may argue that child trafficking qualifies as an unsealable offense.8
Note that if your criminal charge gets dismissed, then you can petition for a record seal right away.9 Learn more about how to seal Nevada criminal records.
6. What is Nevada’s child trafficking statute?
NRS 200.4685. Trafficking in children; penalty.
1. Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person shall not:
(a) Recruit, transport, transfer, harbor, provide, obtain, maintain or solicit a child in furtherance of a transaction, or advertise or facilitate a transaction, pursuant to which a parent of the child or a person with custody of the child places the child in the physical custody of another person who is not a relative of the child, for the purpose of permanently avoiding or divesting himself or herself of responsibility for the child.
(b) Sell, transfer or arrange for the sale or transfer of a child to another person for money or anything of value or receive a child in exchange for money or anything of value.
2. The provisions of subsection 1 do not apply to:
(a) A placement of a child with a relative, stepparent, child- placing agency or an agency which provides child welfare services;
(b) A placement of a child by a child-placing agency or an agency which provides child welfare services;
(c) A temporary placement of a child with another person by a parent of the child or a person with legal or physical custody of the child, with an intent to return for the child, including, without limitation, a temporary placement of a child while the parent of the child or the person with legal or physical custody of the child is on vacation, incarcerated, serving in the military, receiving medical treatment or incapacitated;
(d) A placement of a child in accordance with NRS 127.330, 159A.205 or 159A.215;
(e) A placement of a child that is approved by a court of competent jurisdiction; or
(f) Delivery of a child to a provider of emergency services pursuant to NRS 432B.630.
3. A person who violates the provisions of subsection 1 is guilty of trafficking in children and shall be punished for a category C felony as provided in NRS 193.130.
4. As used in this section:
(a) “Advertise” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 127.310.
(b) “Agency which provides child welfare services” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 432B.030.
(c) “Child” means a person who is less than 18 years of age.
(d) “Child-placing agency” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 127.220.
Arrested? Contact our Las Vegas criminal defense law firm for legal advice. We practice in Clark County, Reno, and throughout the state of Nevada.
- NRS 200.4685.
- NRS 432B.630.
- NRS 200.467; NRS 200.468. Human trafficking cases are category B felonies.
- NRS 201.300(2). Sex trafficking can be a category B- or category A felony depending on the victim’s age. NRS 201.300(1) defines pandering. See, for example, Sheriff, Clark County v. Gordon, (1980) 96 Nev. 205, 606 P.2d 533 and Sheriff, Clark County v. Horner, (1980) 96 Nev. 312, 608 P.2d 1106.
- See note 1.
- NRS 200.469.
- See 8 U.S. Code § 1227.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.
- National Human Trafficking Hotline
- Polaris (help for human- and commercial sex trafficking victims)
- Shared Hope International
- Human Trafficking Task Force, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
- Southern Nevada Sex Trafficking Multidisciplinary Team, Office for Victims of Crime
- Human Trafficking, United Nations
- Human Trafficking, FBI.gov
- Human Trafficking, Nevada Attorney General