Nevada’s Rape and Sexual Assault Laws Explained: What You Need to Know If You’ve Been Falsely Accused

Sexual assault is considered one of the most serious offenses in Nevada. Not only do the convicted potentially face life in prison, they must also register as a sex offender. Even those who are paroled face a lifelong social sentence: perpetual difficulty finding a job, housing, and other basic benefits we take for granted.

falsely accused Nevadas Rape and Sexual Assault Laws Explained: What You Need to Know If Youve Been Falsely Accused

But not everyone accused of sexual assault is guilty. Innocent people can and do get falsely accused of sexual assault, often resulting in a legal headache. If you have been accused of sexual assault, an experienced sex crimes attorney is your strongest chance of clearing your name.

What to Know If You’ve Been Accused of Sexual Assault

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Sexual assault in Nevada under NRS 200.366 is defined as when a person “subjects another person to sexual penetration, or who forces another person to make a sexual penetration on himself or herself 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 his or her conduct.” Physically and mentally incapable of resisting includes when a person is passed out or drunk (common occurrences in many sexual assault cases).

Sexual assault is considered a Category A felony in Nevada. The standard punishment depends on the age of the victim, the extent of bodily harm to the victim, and the criminal history of the accused. If convicted, the penalty for sexual assault ranges from ten years to life in prison without parole.

 

If the prosecution determines that the accused did not sexually assault their victim but attempted to, the accused can be charged with the crime of attempted sexual assault. Attempted sexual assault carries penalties of two to twenty years in prison.

Groping or unlawfully touching a person in a sexual way that doesn’t include penetration is typically charged as a lesser crime, such as lewdness.

Image courtesy of Gabriel Sanz

Defenses for Sexual Assault

Since there are many moving parts and variables in a sexual assault case, your attorney may use several strategies to dispute the charges including:

Consent: As stated above, rape is when a person is forced to have sex against their will. If you and your attorney can demonstrate that the victim gave consent, then the incident is not legally considered sexual assault in Nevada.

Lack of Proof: Sexual assault is difficult to prove unless there is a video or other physical evidence. It often comes down to your word against the victim’s. A charge of sexual assault is often dropped if guilt beyond a reasonable doubt cannot be proven.

False allegations: Prosecutors and judges are aware of the reasons one might be falsely accused of sexual assault and have most likely encountered them before. If you and your attorney can raise reasonable doubt that you have been falsely accused, the case against you could be dismissed.

Other options

Please Bargains: Often a sexual assault charge can be “pled down,” to a less serious offense. If, for example, the state can prove that a victim was physically assaulted but lacks the evidence that a sexual assault occurred, the case be changed from a sexual assault to simply battery. In the case of battery, the penalty is less severe and the accused may not be required to register as a sex offender. However it is important to note that you should never plead guilty without your attorney present – even in exchange for a lesser charge.

If you have been accused of sexual assault in Nevada, contact defense attorney Brian J. Smith at (702) 380-8248 as soon as possible.

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