Although the state of Nevada boasts several statutes related to illegal sexual behavior, the so-called Romeo and Juliet law is not among them. While the specifics of this law vary from state to state, most mean to characterize cases of illegal sexual conduct involving minors in relation to the specific age difference between the participants. Although Romeo and Juliet laws intend to prevent the conviction of minors who engage in consensual sex, they do not apply in Nevada for one simple reason: in many cases, Nevada does not consider it illegal for two underage individuals to have sex with one another.
This raises one important question: In the state of Nevada, what age is underage?
Nevada’s Definitive Age of Consent
Nevada has determined that anyone attaining the age of 16 has reached the legal age of consent. This means that in Nevada, children aged 16 or older can legally engage in sexual conduct with each other, with one caveat: It’s only legal if they restrict the activity to others in their age group. If one of the partners is aged 18 or older, the picture changes in a hurry. In addition, the age of consent jumps to a minimum of 18 years if the sexual partner in question should happen to be a coach, teacher or anyone else in authority at the school attended by the student with whom the act took place.
Statutory Rape in Nevada
In Nevada, charges of statutory rape will apply to anyone aged 18 or older who engages in sexual relations with a boy or girl under the age of consent. The charges will stand and conviction is possible even if the accused was unaware that the child in question was under the age of 16.
The penalties for a conviction will vary, however, according to the age of the person who stands accused. For anyone aged 21 or over, statutory rape is a category C felony that carries a sentence of up to $10,000 in fines and between one and five years behind bars in Nevada State Prison.
For a Nevada defendant who happens to be younger than 21, statutory rape is charged as a gross misdemeanor for which the penalties consist of up to $2,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, or both. In all cases, however, the judge may insist that the convicted individual register as a sex offender. This is a major reason why anyone accused of statutory rape in Nevada must seek the assistance of a defense attorney to hopefully negotiate a plea deal, thereby eliminating any need to register.
For individuals under the age of 18, Nevada does provide a so-called “close-in-age” exemption. Under its conditions, nobody under the age of 18 can face prosecution for statutory rape regardless of the age of his or her victim.
Sex Between Teachers and Students in Nevada
In Nevada, it against the law for anyone in a position of authority at an educational institution to have any sort of sexual conduct with a student at the same school unless the school employee was legally married to the student, or the student was at least 18 years old and willingly consented to the sexual contact.
If neither of these conditions is true, the punishment for the school employee in question will vary depending on the student’s age. For example:
- If the student was 16 or 17 years old at the time, the school employee will have committed a category C felony with a potential punishment of between one and five years in prison and as much as $10,000 in potential fines.
- If the student was only 14 or 15 years old, the school employee will have committed a category B felony for which punishment consists of a potential prison sentence of between one and six years and up to $5,000 in fines.
In either case, the court can order a convicted defendant to register as a sex offender. Failure to do so could lead to additional years behind bars and even higher fines.
Fighting the Charges of Sex With an Underage Partner
Charges of statutory rape in Nevada do not always lead to conviction. A skilled criminal attorney can often have his client’s charges dismissed in cases where:
- The accusations are false.
- The victim’s age is impossible to establish.
- The prosecution cannot supply sufficient evidence.
However, ignorance of the alleged victim’s age is never an excuse, regardless of how old the individual may have looked or claimed to be. In the eyes of the law, the defendant was responsible for nailing down the truth.
If you are facing charges of statutory rape or of violating age-of-consent laws in Nevada, the criminal attorneys at Weiner Law Group can help you fight them. It will often be possible to have the charges against you reduced or even dropped entirely. Call 702-202-0500 today for a free consultation to learn of the defenses that we might apply to your case.