Nevada prosecutors bring open or gross lewdness charges under NRS § 201.201 when they suspect either 1) you had sexual relations somewhere the public could see, or 2) you engaged in non-consensual sexual activity without penetration, such as groping.
The penalties for open or gross lewdness convictions turn on whether there are aggravating circumstances:
|Basic open or gross lewdness cases||Gross misdemeanor: |
|Open or gross lewdness if either: ||Category D felony: |
Here at Las Vegas Defense Group, we have represented literally thousands of people charged with sex crimes like open or gross lewdness. In our experience, the following four defenses are very effective with prosecutors, judges, and juries:
- You were entrapped by police;
- You are the victim of false accusations;
- The sex acts occurred in private; and/or
- The accuser gave their consent to the sex act.
Examples of open or gross lewdness:
- Having sex in a public place, such as a park
- Simulating sex in front of an open window where people could see in
- Masturbating on public transportation
- Grabbing someone’s behind or female breast without their permission
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers discuss:
- 1. What is open or gross lewdness?
- 2. Does it require sex offender registration?
- 3. What are the penalties under NRS 201.210?
- 4. How do I fight the charges?
- 5. Can I get the record of conviction sealed?
- 6. Can I get deported?
- 7. How is indecent exposure different?
Nevada’s broad legal definition of open or gross lewdness under NRS 201.210 comprises either of these two circumstances:
- A sexual act in public or in a private place where others could see, or
- A nonconsensual sexual encounter with no penetration (like groping).1
Note that public breastfeeding of a child is legal and does not qualify as open or gross lewdness.
1.1. Sex acts done openly
It is open or gross lewdness when you behave in a sexually explicit way that bystanders can see. It does not matter whether anyone actually sees or if you do not mean to offend anyone.2
1.2. Nonconsensual sex acts not amounting to rape
It is considered open or gross lewdness when:
- you touch another person in a sexual way but with no penetration, and
- that person does not consent to the touching.4
An NRS 201.210 violation is less serious than sexual assault/rape (NRS 200.366) because the latter involves penetration.5
Yes. If you get convicted of the Nevada crime of open or gross lewdness, you must register as a sex offender.
- For gross misdemeanor convictions, you are classified as a Tier 1 sex offender and must register for 15 years. This is not searchable in a public database as long as the victim – if any – is an adult.
- For felony convictions, you are typically classified as a Tier II or Tier III sex offender and are publicly searchable. If you are a Tier II offender, you must register for 25 years. If you are a Tier III offender, you must register for life.6
Open or gross lewdness in Nevada is a gross misdemeanor as long as:
- you have no prior sex offense convictions; and
- the act was not in the presence of a disabled person or child under 18.
Gross misdemeanor penalties include:
- up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines, and
- sex offender registration.
Otherwise, open or gross lewdness is a category D felony, carrying:
- 1 to 4 years in Nevada State Prison,
- up to $5,000 in fines (at the court’s discretion), and
- sex offender registration.7
The penalties for open or gross lewdness are less serious than those for rape (non-consensual sexual penetration). Rape is a category A felony carrying life with or without the possibility of parole.8
3.1. Plea bargains
It may be possible to get NRS 201.210 criminal charges reduced to a misdemeanor such as simple battery (NRS 200.481) or disorderly conduct (NRS 203.010). They carry lesser penalties and do not require sex offender registration.
Four defense strategies that our Nevada criminal lawyers use to show there is insufficient evidence for open or gross lewdness charges are:
- You were entrapped by police. When police trick you into committing a crime you were not predisposed to commit, it is entrapment.9 Las Vegas Metro Police routinely set up undercover sting operations in public restrooms and parks. Decoy officers pretend to be gay men out cruising to bait unsuspecting men into doing something sexual. (Our Las Vegas Nevada LGBT rights attorneys help fight back in cases of discriminatory policing where “suspects” are targeted based on sexual orientation.)
- You are the victim of false accusations. It is not uncommon for angry or vengeful people to falsely accuse enemies or ex-partners of breaking the law. In these cases, a skilled criminal defense attorney would conduct a thorough investigation of all the relevant sensitive information. Perhaps there is evidence (such as angry text messages and voicemails) that would impeach the accuser’s credibility.
- The sex acts occurred in private. Consensual sexual activity is legal if it occurs in private. As long as the D.A. cannot prove that any sex acts occurred where the public could see, the charge should be dismissed. Typical evidence in these cases includes eyewitnesses, surveillance video, and GPS records.
- The accuser gave their consent to the sex act. It is also not uncommon for people to regret their decisions to engage in sexual behavior and then blame their partner for it. However, regret does not reverse consent or lessen the D.A.’s burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Gross misdemeanor convictions of open or gross lewdness may be sealed two (2) years after the criminal case closes. Though felony convictions may never be sealed.10
Note that any lewdness charge that gets dismissed (whether through an acquittal or the D.A. dropping the case) may be sealed right away.11 Learn about how to seal Nevada criminal records.
Violating NRS 201.210 may be deportable.12 The most important step for non-citizens facing lewdness charges to take is to retain an experienced attorney. The attorney may be able to get the charge dismissed or reduced to a non-removable offense.
Open or gross lewdness refers to lascivious behavior. In contrast, indecent exposure (NRS 201.220) refers to displaying private body parts such as your genitalia whether or not it is sexually motivated – such as flashing or urinating in public.
In many cases, prosecutors bring NRS 201.210 charges in conjunction with indecent public exposure charges. Both offenses have identical penalties.13
- NRS 201.210.
- See Ranson v. State (Nev. 1983) 670 P.2d 574; see also Young v. State (Nev. 1993) 849 P.2d 336.
- NRS 201.190.
- Same; see Fisher v. State (Nev. Ct. App., 2016) No. 66974.
- NRS 200.366.
- Note 1; NRS 179D.495; NRS 179D.450; NRS 179D.097.
- Note 1.
- NRS 200.366.
- See Foster v. State (Nev. 2000) 13 P.3d 61.
- NRS 179.245; See also In the Matter of Petition of Michael Lorenzo Aragon (2020) 136 Nev. Adv. Op. 75.
- NRS 179.255.
- INA 237(a)(2)(A).
- Note 1.