In a legal terms, sexual assault occurs when an individual knowingly engages in nonconsensual touching or contact of a sexual nature with another individual. The touching may be either through direct skin contact to an individual’s body, or touching through an individual’s clothing. Typically sexual assault involves the use of force, the threat of force, and/or violence. Importantly, the crime of sexual assault does not require the act of penetration.

For example, if an individual grabs another individual’s genitals, even if the individual that is touched is fully clothed, that touching may result in a criminal charge of sexual assault. Another example would be kissing someone without their explicit consent.

States have different criminal and civil laws which address sexual assault. Although the specific requirements for committing sexual assault can vary considerably between states, the elements necessary for the prosecution to prove are as follows:

  • There must be a touching that is sexual in nature;
  • The other person must not have properly consented to the touching; and
  • The individual accused of the sexual touching must not have reasonably beleived the other person consented to the touching.

One major difference between the states is whether sexual assault can be charged as aggravated assault. Many state laws classify sexual assault as aggravated assault if the act involved the use of force or violence which resulted in bodily harm to the person who was sexually assaulted. Aggravated assault charges carry harsher penalties than simple sexual assult, including longer prison sentences and heavier criminal fines.

How Is Sexual Assault Defined in Nevada?

In Nevada, sexual assault is defined as the penetration or touching of a sexual nature by an individual that is done without the explicit consent of the touched individual. As can be seen, Nevada requires the act of penetration in order to convict an individual for sexual assault. Nevada also has separate sexual assault penalties dependent on the age of the victim that was touched, as well as whether any serious bodily harm was inflicted to the victim.

The criminal laws regarding sexual assault in Nevada can be found in Title 15 of the Nevada Statutes. Title 15 covers crimes and punishments in Nevada. The laws regarding sexual assault specifically state that an individual is guilt of sexual assault if the individual:

  • Subjects another person to sexual penetration, or or forces another person to make a sexual penetration on themselves or another, or on a beast, against the will of the victim or under conditions in which the perpetrator knows or should know that the victim is mentally or physically incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of the perpetrator’s conduct; or
  • The individual commits sexual penetration upon a child under the age of 14 years or causes a child under the age of 14 years to make a sexual penetration on themselves or another, or on a beast.

What Is Serious Bodily Injury?

As noted above, the crime of sexual assault can become aggravated if the sexual assault also caused substantial bodily harm to the victim. Serious bodily injury is any type of physical harm that results in permanent harm, or harm that an individual cannot recover from within a year.

Examples of serious bodily injuries include, but are not limited to:

  • Serious cuts, large abrasions, or deep gouges;
  • Permanent scarring or disfigurement of the victim’s body; or
  • Paralyzed or lost limbs.

A person who commits sexual assault involving serious bodily injury to the victim is guilty of a category A felony in Nevada, which carries the following criminal punishments:

  • Imprisonment of up to life, without the possibility of parole; or
  • Imprisonment of up to life with the possibility of parole, after a minimum of 15 years have been served.

What Is the Age of Consent in Nevada?

As mentioned above, consent may be a legal defense to the act of sexual assault. In Nevada, the age of consent is defined as the age at which a person is considered old enough to legally consent to sex, which is 16 years of age.

Thus, anyone below the age of 16 is considered a minor in terms of the law, and sexual assault against them is treated as a separate and more serious crime than if they were 16 or older.

Does Nevada Separate Sexual Assault Penalties Depending on a Minor’s Age?

Yes, the state of Nevada separates the criminal penalties of sexual assault for adults and minors under the age of consent. Nevada has many different laws that prohibit the sexual assault and molestation of children under the age of 18.

Offenses involving sexual assault of a minor include, but are not limited to:

  • Statutory Rape: Statutory rape in Nevada is any act of sexual penetration with an individual over the age of 17 with an individual under the age of consent in Nevada (i.e. under the age of 16);
  • Lewdness With a Minor Under the Age of Consent: The crime of lewdness in Nevada involves the touching of a child under the age of 16, that falls short of rape, but still involves sexual intent. Therefore, an individual can still be charged with sexual assault, even without the touching of genitals;
  • Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of a Child: Nevada laws also include a catch-all provision that allows prosecutors to charge an individual with sexual abuse of a child that is not otherwise covered by Nevada laws;
  • Luring a Child by Using a Computer, System or Network: An individual may also be charged with sexual assault through utilizing technology to lure a child to sexual situations; and
  • Child Pornography: In Nevada, it is a crime for any child under the age of 18 to make or be involved in pornographic materials. Individuals in possession of such materials may be charged with the crime of child pornography.

It is important to note that any individual that is convicted of sexual assault of a minor may be required to register with the Nevada Sex Offender registry. Further, if the individual is related to the child, then that individual will also be charged with the crime of incest. Incest is a felony and carries a a prison sentence of two years to life without parole, regardless of the age of the minor.

It is also important to note that the only true defenses to child sexual assault is if the victim falsely accused the defendant. Thus, it is not a defense if the perpetrator honestly believed that the child was at least 16 years of age. It is also not a defense if the child lied about their true age, or if they “consented” or initiated the sex. This is because, once again, the age of consent is 16 years of age, so any child under that age cannot consent to sex.

Do I Need A Lawyer For First Degree Statutory Rape In North Carolina?

If you have been arrested or charged with sexual assault of a minor, you should immediately contact an experienced Nevada criminal defense attorney.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand your state’s specific laws on sexual assault of a minor, and how those laws will affect your legal rights and options.

They will also be able to determine whether there are any legal defenses available to you based on the specifics of your case. Finally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as needed, throughout the process.