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By: Law Offices of Mace J. Yampolsky

Age of Consent in Nevada

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Age of Consent in Nevada Means Sweet Sixteen Or Else

While Las Vegas is known as an adult playground for the  United States of America, the Sin City moniker can lead some folks to make erroneous assumptions that can lead to hot water—or even criminal charges. For instance, many tourists come to the Strip, see the smut peddlers on the boulevard and assume—incorrectly, of course, that this is a laissez faire, anything goes kind of place. The reality is a bit more nuanced than that and what you might deem a “misunderstanding” could get you thrown behind bars and facing lifetime sex offender registration. Remember, in Sin City, as in the rest of these fertile plains, ignorance of the law is not an excuse!  Read on to learn about the age of consent in Nevada.

In Nevada, including throughout Clark County and in cities ranging from Henderson to Pioche, from Laughlin to Boulder City, and from Elko down to Primm—the age at which an individual can consent to sex is 16 years old. If he or she is not old enough to legally obtain their driver’s license, than he or she is not legally able to consent to sexual intercourse. The fact that you met the individual in a bar, casino, or through a website, or a dating application like Tinder or Friend finder, or through a social media site like Facebook and/or Instagram is of little consequence—this is as close to a “strict liability” offense as one can get. Either the person you are with has attained the age of consent or they have not. Period.

Nevada age of consent law is contained within the sexual assault and seduction subsection of Chapter 200 of the Nevada Revised Statutes, specifically within section 200.364. Persons aged 17 that have intercourse with someone under 16 may still be guilty of a crime—but that crime will not be sexual assault of a minor child, given that the so-called perpetrator in this scenario was also under the age of 18. If over 18, and found to be having sexual intercourse with an individual aged fifteen (“15”) or younger, you could be subjected to criminal charges ranging from Sexual Assault of a Minor to Statutory Sexual Seduction, Open and Gross Lewdness to Luring and Enticing a Minor to Perform a Sex Act. There are a host of felonies that could await an individual that fails to heed the age of consent.

Finally, I feel I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the age of consent of 16 is applicable to crimes against the person—but there are other crimes that certain individuals, by nature of their chosen profession—need to be aware of. For instance, teachers, coaches, clergy working at school sites, camp counselors, scout troop leaders, church youth group directors and the like are held to higher standard. Prior to 2015, this was not always the case. Teachers in high schools throughout the Las Vegas Valley had been having sex with students—seemingly with impunity thinking that the age of consent being reached gave them carte blanche. They were wrong.

The Nevada Legislature saw this as a problem and changed the law in the 2015 session.

State law now says that if someone is or was employed or volunteered at a public or private school, they cannot engage in sexual content with a student they’ve had contact with as part of their job who is 16 or older and who has not received a high school diploma or its equivalent. It’s a class C felony.

In practical reality, this can be a harsh rebuke for a man or woman that feels they are having a “consensual” relationship with a person “who has reached the age of consent.” For instance, if I am an 11th grade United States History teacher at the high school I cannot have sexual intercourse with the pretty 16 year old junior that sits in the back of my period 3 class. While this is not sexual assault by virtue of the student having attained the age of consent, this type of conduct violates county codes punishing violation of the public trust and the community. Specifically, adult professionals working in these capacities ought to be aware that.

If you are charged with a criminal offense involving the age of consent in Nevada then you need an experienced Las Vegas sex crimes attorney to assist you.  Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help!  Give us a call at (702) 385-9777 for a free consultation!

Frequently Asked Questions an Answers in conjunction with this topic:

What is “lewdness with a minor under 16?

The Nevada crime of Lewdness with a Minor under 16 is codified in Nevada Revised Statute 201.230 and prohibits all sexually gratifying contact by adults with minors under the age of consent of 16, but not under 14, i.e., it applies to 14 and 15 year old minors victimized by adults 18 and older sexually, but does not require sexual penetration, as would the related crime of Child Sexual Assault. Please note that the mandatory four year age difference will generally apply here, so tweens playing “doctor” are not imperiled by the law.

The punishment for so-called lewd and lascivious conduct with these minors is potentially devastating—10 years to life in Nevada State Prison, accompanied by lifetime sex offender registration. In the era of “Me Too,” there are few more serious and debilitating criminal charges one can face. Furthermore, given that minors under the age of consent CANNOT legally agree to the contact, defenses are challenging if the factually present circumstances provided an opportunity for the abuse.

What is statutory rape?

Statutory rape is having sex with someone that is not of legal age to consent. Even if that person were willing ,under Nevada Law that person can not legally consent . It doesn’t matter that the minor initiated sexual contact. It also doesn’t matter if the minor showed you a fake id saying she was 25. This is a strict liability crime. It doesn’t’ matter what you thought and it doesn’t matter if you didn’t think you were violating the law. You did!.

A Romeo and Juliet Law provides that a person can legally have consensual sex with a minor provided that he or she is not more than a given number of years older, generally four years or less.  Unfortunately Nevada does NOT have a Romeo and Juliet law

A person commits the crime of statutory rape (called statutory sexual seduction in Nevada)NRS 200.368 by engaging in consensual sexual intercourse, oral or anal sex, or any other sexual penetration with a person who is 14 or 15 years old when the defendant is age 18 or older and at least four years older than the victim. When  the defendant is between 18 and 21( unless  the Defendant has a prior sex crime)the   crime is a  gross misdemeanor. When the person is over 21 it is a felony  Here is the actual statute

  NRS 200.368  Statutory sexual seduction: Penalties.  A person who commits statutory sexual seduction shall be punished:

1. If the person is 21 years of age or older at the time of the commission of the offense, for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 10 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000.

2. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 3, if the person is under the age of 21 years, for  a gross misdemeanor.

3. If the person is under the age of 21 years and has previously been convicted of a sexual offense, as defined in NRS 179D.097, for a category D felony as provided in NRS 193.130.

(Added to NRS by 1977, 1627; A 1979, 14261995, 11872001, 7032015, 2236)

Does Nevada have a “Romeo & Juliet” law?

Romeo and Juliet laws (as they are commonly called) provide exceptions to the widely known crimes of statutory rape and/or statutory sexual seduction. While the Nevada statutory scheme never uses those exact words or that name, largely the answer is “yes”.  NRS 200.364 provides that the legal age of consent for sex in the State of Nevada is 16 years of age.  This statute further provides that the crimes of statutory rape or statutory sexual seduction CAN ONLY be committed by a person 18 years of age or older with a person that is 14 or 15 years old AND more than four years younger than the adult. So this provides some safe harbor in so-called Romeo and Juliet romances between, a high school senior and a high school freshman, for example.