NRS 201.540 is the Nevada sex crime law that prohibits sexual contact between students and their schoolteachers in Nevada. It makes no difference if the child is above the Nevada age of consent (16). The statute states:
[A] person who:
(a) Is 21 years of age or older;
(b) Is or was employed by a public school or private school in a position of authority or is or was volunteering at a public or private school in a position of authority; and
(c) Engages in sexual conduct with a pupil who is 16 years of age or older, who has not received a high school diploma, a general educational development certificate or an equivalent document and:
(1) Who is or was enrolled in or attending the public school or private school at which the person is or was employed or volunteering; or
(2) With whom the person has had contact in the course of performing his or her duties as an employee or volunteer,
--> is guilty of a category C felony [in Nevada]…
A conviction for violating NRS 201.540 carries prison but also disgraces the teacher’s career. However, our skilled Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys may be able to negotiate or litigate a favorable resolution that keeps the teacher out of custody and saves his/her credentials and career.
This article outlines the Nevada offense of sexual conduct between students and teachers under NRS 201.540. Scroll down to learn about the law, punishments, and common defenses in Las Vegas.
Is sex between students and teachers illegal in Nevada?
The legal definition of “sexual conduct between teachers and pupils” in Las Vegas, Nevada, forbids the following behaviors between school employees and students:
- ordinary sexual intercourse
- anal intercourse
- any oral-genital contact including fellatio or cunnilingus
- physical contact with the teacher’s or student’s unclothed genitals or pubic area for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of either person
- penetration, however slight, of an object into a genital or anal opening of the body of the teacher or student for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of either person
- masturbation or the lewd exhibition of unclothed genitals, or
- sado-masochistic abuse
Note that NRS 201.540 applies to both classroom teachers as well as school administrators, coaches, and teacher’s aids. This law also applies to secondary schools. And it doesn’t matter whether the school is private or publicly run by the Nevada Department of Education.
Furthermore, a school employee or volunteer may be convicted of this crime even if he/she is no longer employed at the school when he has sexual relations with the pupil.
Nor does it matter whether the pupil attends the specific school where the defendant worked … if the defendant had contact with the pupil through the course of his/her school duties, then he/she may be liable under NRS 201.540.
The only times a Nevada school employee may legally have sexual relations with a student at that school under NRS 201.540 is when the employee and student are lawfully married.
Also note that this law does not apply to teachers or school employees under twenty-one (21). However, Nevada schools generally don’t employ people in this age range.
Finally, note that Nevada law also forbids sex between certain university employees and certain students. Learn more about the Nevada crime of sexual conduct between college employees and students (NRS 201.550).
What are the best defenses to NRS 201.540 charges?
There are several different defenses available to fight an allegation of having sexual contact with a student in Las Vegas under NRS 201.540. The following include common strategies a defense attorney might use depending on the circumstances of the case:
- False accusations: Perhaps the student falsely accused the teacher of sexual relations out of anger, jealously or revenge. If the defense attorney can make a convincing argument that the student fabricated the charge, then the case may be dismissed.
- Lack of evidence: In every criminal case prosecutors have the burden to prove that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the defendant to be convicted. If a defense attorney can demonstrate to the judge that the D.A.’s evidence doesn’t meet that standard because it’s inadequate or erroneous, the defendant shouldn’t be liable.
- Police misconduct: Police are allowed to conduct searches only if they reasonably believe there’s probable cause that a crime has occurred. If the police may have lacked probable cause, then a defense attorney can file a Nevada motion to suppress asking the judge to disregard all the evidence the police discovered from their illegal search. If the judge agrees and grants the Nevada motion to suppress, the whole matter may be dropped due to lack of evidence.
What are the consequences?
The punishment for a conviction of sexual conduct between a pupil and teacher under NRS 201.540 is a category C felony. The sentence includes:
- 1 – 5 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- maybe up to $10,000 in fines
- Tier II sex offender registration (NRS 179D.115)
Note that this also carries lifetime supervision under NRS 176.0931. But it may be possible to get off lifetime supervision after 10 years.
Depending on the facts of the case, the D.A. may instead choose to bring charges for the Nevada crime of sexual assault (NRS 200.366), the Nevada crime of lewd conduct with a child (NRS 201.230), or the Nevada crime of statutory rape (NRS 200.368):
- Nevada crime of sexual assault (NRS 200.366). If the student is thirteen (13) or younger the sentence is life in prison. If the child didn’t sustain injuries, then the teacher may be eligible for parole after thirty-five years.
- Nevada crime of lewd conduct with a child under 16 (NRS 201.230). This crime also carries life in prison. If the teacher had a prior conviction for a similar offense, he/she may not have the possibility of parole.
- Nevada crime of statutory rape (NRS 200.368). Even if the student-teacher sex was consensual, the teacher under this law faces one to ten years in prison and maybe up to $10,000 in fines.
Civil and Administrative penalties
Teachers accused of taking advantage of their students may also face civil lawsuits for hefty money damages. The schools themselves may impose administrative penalties such as job termination or suspension.
Arrested? There’s help . . . .
If you’re a teacher or school employee who’s been accused of sexual conduct with a pupil under NRS 201.540, contact Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys for a free consultation. Their aim is to try to get your case reduced to a lesser offense or dismissed. And if necessary they’ll take your case to trial to fight for your innocence and professional reputation.