Sex crimes are extremely serious offenses and should not be taken lightly by anyone. Because sex crimes can be very damaging to society and because the consequences of being convicted of a sex crime are so significant, it is imperative that these cases are handled with the utmost sensitivity, care, and thoroughness, so the right outcome prevails.
At De Castroverde Law Group, our Las Vegas sex crimes lawyers believe that every sex crime should be carefully investigated and that every person charged with a sex crime should know their rights and receive a fair trial. We are dedicated to ensuring that every person accused of a crime, including sex crimes, has skilled legal representation and the opportunity to tell their side of the story.
What Is a Sex Crime?
In Nevada, sex crimes include sexual assault, statutory sexual seduction, incest, and statutory rape. Sodomy was once illegal in Nevada, but this law has since been deemed unconstitutional and there are no longer anti-sodomy laws in the state.
There are many types of sex crimes that can take on different forms. Usually, these crimes will be defined as one of the following:
- Subjecting another person to sexual penetration (which is defined as sexual intercourse in its ordinary meaning, or insertion into a bodily cavity that can be reasonably construed as not for medical, health, or law enforcement purposes)
- Forcing another person to sexually penetrate themselves or another
- Forcing any sexual act on another against their will, especially when the victim is mentally or physically incapable of understanding the nature of their conduct
- Sexual acts with animals, forced or otherwise
- When the person committing the sexual act uses threats or force
- Sexual offense against a child, including luring via a computer or other device
- Sexual acts with a person under the age of 18 or with a person who is at least four years younger than the perpetrator (in the case of minors)
- Fornication between familial or related individuals
- Forced sexual activity with a spouse
These definitions encompass different forms of sexual assault and rape, which carry different punishments and conviction sentences. Depending on the charge, a person may have to register as a sex offender.
Definition of Sexual Assault
As in other states, the definition of sexual assault in Nevada involves the issue of consent. The crime is broadly defined under Nevada Revised Statutes as committing a sex act with another person that involves penetration against the person’s will.
However, Nevada law also includes other circumstances that go beyond the issue of consent. For instance, someone can be charged with sexual assault if they commit a sexual offense under the threat of force. Any sexual contact involving penetration of a person less than 14 years old falls under the sexual assault statute as well. Similarly, sexual assault is charged when an offender knows the victim is incapable, either mentally or physically, of resisting or consenting.
Penalties for sexual assault may vary depending on the exact circumstances. Any sexual assault charge, no matter the theory, is a serious matter under the law. If you have been accused, you need legal representation right away.
Las Vegas & Clark County Sex Crimes
In Clark County and Las Vegas, some types of sex crimes are more common than others due to the city’s culture and the presence of the Strip. For example, illegal prostitution and solicitation are more common in Las Vegas than in many other cities, while sex crimes related to patrons of bars, nightclubs, and casinos are also more common than in other areas.
Sex crime charges specified as common sex crimes committed in Nevada include:
- Prostitution and solicitation
- Sexual assault or rape
- Lewd conduct
- Indecent exposure
- Statutory rape or statutory seduction
- Solicitation of a minor
- Sex between school employees and students
- Child pornography
- Sex trafficking
- Teen sexting
- Sale of obscene materials to minors
- Intentional transmission of HIV
- Failure to register as a sex offender
- Committing sexual acts in public
- Sexual harassment (stalking, extortion, exposure, assault, peeping, etc.)
De Castroverde Law Group has assisted clients with many of the sex crime charges listed above as well as other criminal defense charges. It is imperative that you speak to one of our experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible after being charged with a sex crime. Our Las Vegas sex crimes lawyers can help you truly understand the charge and your options, including fighting the charge, getting a reduced sentence, or going to trial.
I Am Being Charged with a Sex Crime in Las Vegas. What Happens Now?
If you are accused of a sex crime in Las Vegas, you should seek representation from a sex crime defense lawyer as soon as possible. The repercussions of sex crimes are severe and an experienced attorney can help protect your legal rights.
Possible defenses for your charge might include arguing that:
- The victim gave consent to have sex
- The charges against you are false allegations or the victim has personal motives
- No sexual penetration occurred
- Evidence is missing, tampered with, or inadmissible in a courtroom
- The incident was not reported right away
- There are inconsistencies in the initial police report or the plaintiff’s testimony
Without more than the victim’s testimony, it can be difficult to prove that a crime took place. The prosecution must have substantiating evidence to deliver a solid case in court.
Remember Your Right to Remain Silent
Always remember your Fifth Amendment rights that grant you the right to remain silent at the time of your arrest. A confession can be condemnatory, and you may invertedly say something that can be used against you.
How Is Guilt Proven?
A prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crimes they are charged with. In many cases, the most compelling evidence in a sex crime is physical proof that a crime took place.
If a victim sought medical attention after a sexual assault, there will be documentation of their physical evaluation in their records. Rape kits and other examinations performed by a doctor or another medical professional can provide proof on behalf of the victim that a sex crime took place. Physical signs like bruising, scratches, tearing, and trauma are likely to lead to a conviction.
Other evidence like text messages, pictures, videos, and witness testimony can prove that a sex crime took place.
Unsubstantiated accusations are more difficult to convict because they do not provide any solid evidence that a crime took place. If there is no physical evidence or witnesses to help support a charge, then it is likely the verdict will be not guilty.
The Consequences of Sex Crime Convictions
The consequences of a sex crime conviction depend heavily on the type of crime and the details surrounding the crime. For example, prostitution and solicitation are considered misdemeanors in Nevada and could result in fines, a mark on your record, and up to six months in prison. Sexual assault by a repeat offender, on the other hand, could result in life in prison without parole.
If you are convicted of a sex crime in Nevada, you will need to register as a sex offender. While those who are convicted of misdemeanors or have a low risk of reoffending will not have their personal information publicly listed, those who commit felonies or have a high risk of reoffending will have their name and address released to the public.
Sex offenders are required to alert officials when they change their home address or employment address – not doing so can have serious consequences, including heavy fines and prison time. Being a registered sex offender may also affect where you can live, work, and travel.
Sentencing for Sex Crimes
Convictions for sex crimes fall into mostly felony categories. Sentences for the most common sex crimes are listed below. Keep in mind that these punishments can change depending on the age of the victim. Your Las Vegas sex crime attorney can help accurately predict the severity of a possible conviction.
- Sexual assault or rape – Category A felony with a life sentence. Possibility for parole after 10 years if no substantial bodily harm was inflicted.
- Statutory sexual seduction or rape – Category B felony with 1-10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
- Lewd conduct – First-time offense is a gross misdemeanor with up to 1 year of jail time. Subsequent offenses are a Category D felony with 1-4 years in prison and fines up to $5,000.
- Lewdness with a child under age 16 – Category B felony for a first offense with 1-10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. Penalties increase based on how young the victim is or with multiple offenses.
- Public sexual acts – Category D felony with 1-4 years in prison and fines up to $5,000.
- Indecent exposure – First offense is a gross misdemeanor with up to 1 year of jail time. Subsequent offenses are a Category D felony with 1-4 years in prison and fines up to $5,000.
Factors That Contribute to Conviction and Sentencing
Specific factors that can affect the severity of a conviction or punishment include the age of the victim, if penetration occurred during the incident, and the mental, physical, and emotional state of the victim.
The younger the victim is, the more serious the punishment and the easier it is to convict. If the victim is mentally or physically disabled, or if the victim was unconscious or drugged, the more serious the crime is.
A guilty verdict is not the end of the story in some cases. A criminal defense attorney can argue for a less strict punishment if the defendant has no criminal history, was abused as a child, or if they are regarded as an asset to their community.
Additional Penalties for Sex Crimes
Sex crimes carry a range of penalties in Nevada, based on the type of charge, the seriousness of the incident, and the criminal history of the person accused. Sexual assault is considered a category A felony, which is the most serious category of crime in Nevada. Category A felonies carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. In cases where a victim receives substantial bodily harm, a judge may impose a sentence of life without parole. Otherwise, an offender may be eligible for parole after 10, 25, or 35 years, depending on the age of the victim.
Other sex crimes may also be categorized as serious felonies:
- Statutory sexual seduction is a category B felony, carrying a sentence of one to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Intentional transmission of HIV is also a category B felony.
- Teen sexting carries a potential penalty of up to six months in a juvenile delinquency facility for repeat offenses.
- Open or gross lewdness is considered a gross misdemeanor upon first offense with a penalty of up to a year in prison, and subsequent charges may be elevated to a category D felony with a penalty of one to four years in prison.
- Lewdness with a child under the age of 16 is a category B felony, with a prison sentence of one to 10 years.
- Sexual acts in public is a charge that is a category D felony, punishable by one to four years in prison.
- Indecent exposure upon first offense is a gross misdemeanor, elevated to a category D felony upon repeat offenses.
- Having sexual contact with pupils or students is a category C felony, with a prison sentence of one to five years.
In many, if not most, instances, individuals convicted of sex crimes will also have to register as a sex offender for a lengthy period, which may or may not involve having their name disclosed to the public.
Sex Crimes Committed by Minors
If an offender and victim are in the same age bracket, the sex crime will likely be tried as a juvenile sexual offense. These convictions are typically much more lenient, but it may be difficult to secure a juvenile charge in some cases.
Juvenile offenders can be given lighter charges or sentences that would normally be harsher for an adult offender. However, sexual assault and rape are usually considered more serious crimes, requiring a prosecutor to charge a minor as an adult which brings longer sentences and more severe punishment.
Nevada’s Teen Sexting Law
Nevada has created a law to address teen sexting, which acknowledges that a child who sexts (i.e., sends sexually explicit photos of themselves) should not automatically be deemed a delinquent. In these cases, a child is not usually charged with child pornography and often receives community service or a fine instead. Additional or repeat offenses may result in admission into a juvenile detention facility for up to six months or more.
Nevada’s Romeo and Juliet Law
Nevada’s Romeo and Juliet Law protects minors who have consensual sex with other minors, as long as the age gap is no more than four years apart. This means that a 14-year-old and 17-year-old can legally engage in intercourse without accusation of statutory rape, but a 14-year-old and 18-year-old may be subject to criminal prosecution.
If your child has been accused of a sex crime, acting quickly to combat these claims is key to securing a juvenile charge and avoiding a serious conviction.
Sealing Sex Crime Convictions
The only instances where you may seal a sex crime from your criminal record are when you are acquitted (the charges are dropped) or you are found not guilty.
Rape convictions and other sexual offenses can never be sealed from your criminal record. Therefore, the public will have access to this information when running a background check.
Information about your sex offender registration will also be available for public disclosure if it does not contain any identifying information about the victim(s). You can petition to remove your name from the registry if you are a Tier I offender who has been registered for at least 10 consecutive years, or if you are a Tier III offender sentenced as a minor who has been registered for at least 25 consecutive years.
Impact of Sex Crimes Outside the Courtroom
Because sex crimes cannot be sealed or expunged from criminal records in Nevada and most sex crimes also require registering as a sex offender, a sex crime charge will likely impact you in everyday life.
Potential employers, landlords, creditors, college admissions departments, and other institutions that run background checks will have access to your criminal history. A conviction will likely make other personal aspects of your life difficult as well. Working with a Las Vegas sex crime attorney to avoid a conviction or settle on a punishment that does not involve the registry can make moving forward easier.
Can Victims of Sex Crimes Sue?
People who are convicted of sex crimes, especially rape and assault, face the threat of both criminal and civil charges that can include suing for battery, false imprisonment, or intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Defendants who lose a civil lawsuit may be required to pay the following to the victim:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Punitive damages
- Other costs related to the incident
Contact a Nevada Sex Crime Lawyer
Far too many people accused of sex crimes do not fight for their rights simply because they feel overwhelmed or embarrassed. The team at De Castroverde Law Group wants you to know that you have legal options and that a skilled defense attorney in Las Vegas can help you understand your best avenues for action.
We have over forty years of combined legal experience. Contact us today to learn more about our legal services, ask questions about your case, or speak with an experienced Las Vegas sex crimes lawyer.
Rape is a very serious sex crime that comes with severe consequences involving not only a prison sentence and fine but also a potential difficulty in finding a job or signing a lease to obtain proper housing. Under Nevada law, there are many additional crimes of a sexual nature that come with a pressing need for proper legal representation. Penalties may range from probation to a year in jail or a multi-year prison sentence if you’re convicted of a sex crime. You may also be required to register as a sex offender for a lengthy period.
Sex crimes put your freedom at risk, as well as your ability to earn a living and keep a roof over your head. If you have been accused of a sex crime, contact De Castroverde Law Group for an immediate consultation.
Fighting Sexual Assault and Sex Crime Charges
Getting accused of any type of sex crime is a serious matter that requires proper legal representation. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group can help you develop a defense based on evidence, facts, and the law. Potential defenses may center on the issue of consent. But you may also be able to show you have been falsely accused or that the alleged offense does not fit the definition of the crime.
Our team, which serves Las Vegas and the surrounding area in Nevada, will help identify the relevant information and recommend the best possible course of action for resolving the charges against you. Several of our attorneys spent time as prosecutors, so they have an experienced understanding of how cases are constructed and where they may be weakest. You don’t have a minute to waste. Call us or contact us online for a free consultation.