If you have been charged with a sex crime in Las Vegas or anywhere else in the state of Nevada, the consequences of a conviction can be extremely severe and long-lasting, depending on the nature of the charges and your previous criminal record (if any). And even the mere accusation of a sex crime brings with it an immediate social stigma, despite the fact that nothing has yet been proved.
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we understand that many people are falsely accused of sex crimes in Las Vegas and other parts of Nevada and that many others have exaggerated allegations filed against them. It's all too easy to make an accusation, and without an experienced defense attorney handling your case, the chances of conviction are very high.
Martin Hart has deep experience in handling all manner of Nevada sex crime defense cases and has a long track record of winning the best possible outcome for his clients. To learn more and to avail yourself of a free legal consultation on the details of your case, call Martin Hart anytime 24/7 at 702-380-4278.
What Is a "Sex Crime" Under Nevada Law?
"Sex crime" is a general term that groups together a number of different specific acts criminalized and given sentencing guidelines in the Nevada penal code. Any unwanted or illegal sexual contact or exposure of any kind can come under this broad umbrella term.
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we understand each sex crime charge down to the legal minutia and know how to build you a solid defense. Below, we give a brief overview of some of the most common classes of Nevada sex crimes:
- Sexual Assault
What Nevada law calls "sexual assault" can also include what most would refer to as "sexual battery" or "rape." Any sexual intercourse wherein there was a lack of consent and the defendant knew or should have known that such a lack of consent existed, is sexual assault.
And note that if the victim was too young to legally be competent to give consent to a sexual act or was physically/mentally unable to withhold consent, it still counts as sexual assault (rape). This even includes a person being too drunk or drugged up to be capable of making the decision.
Also note that a person can withhold or later withdraw consent in more ways than just saying the word "no." Actions, like pushing a person away, also count as withholding consent.
In Nevada, sexual assault is a Class A Felony, the most serious category of crime in the books. Yet, the punishment varies based on the defendant's past criminal record, the age of the victim, and whether or not bodily injury was inflicted. Any felony in Nevada will get you at least a year in state prison, and a Class A Felony can be punished by life in prison with or without parole or even the death penalty.
Possible defenses against a sexual assault charge include:
- Lack of physical evidence and reliable testimony due to a long gap between the alleged crime and the filing of charges. And it is even possible for the wait to push the allegation beyond the statute of limitations.
- The sexual contact was with consent or the defendant had good reason to believe he/she had consent.
- False accusations. It is not uncommon for trumped up charges of sexual assault to be filed or even for a case of mistaken identity to occur.
- Weak evidence may force the prosecution to reduce the charge to "simple battery," which has much less harsh penalties and does not require the defendant register as a sex offender.
- Statutory Sexual Seduction
"Statutory sexual seduction" is basically Nevada's legal term for statutory rape. This crime is defined as sexual intercourse or certain other sexual acts with a person under 16 by a person 18 years old or older.
Consent is not a defense against statutory rape because those under 16 are not considered to be legally capable of giving such consent with a true understanding of what they are doing. In essence, Nevada's purpose in this law is to protect minors from being taken advantage of by adults.
In cases of statutory sexual seduction, the state and not the child victim presses the charges, so the victim has no ability to drop the charges. Also, unlike some other states, Nevada does not accept the defense that a mistake was made as to the child's actual age.
Statutory sexual seduction is punishable as follows:
- If the defendant was over 21, it is a felony, punishable by 1 to 5 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- If the defendant was under 21, it is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in county jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.
- Probation is often possible, but you must first pass a state-approved psychological exam to see if you are deemed likely to be a repeat offender or not.
- Open/Gross Lewdness
Open or gross lewdness is a very general term in the legal world. It is also referred to as "indecent exposure" and can include any act of willfully exposing oneself in such a way that it could reasonably be expected to offend another person who saw you. However, when prosecutors cannot prove sexual assault, they often resort to a lewdness charge in its place. Thus, almost anything short of sexual assault can fall into this category.
First-time offenders convicted of open or gross lewdness will be subject to misdemeanor penalties, including up to 12 months in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
Repeat offenders, however, face a felony charge, punishable by 1 to 4 years in state prison and a fine of as much as $5,000.
For a first-time offense, you may or may not have to register as a sex offender. For a repeat offense, sex offender registration is mandatory.
Defenses include: lack of evidence, false accusation, the act was not "lewd" in nature, had a legitimate purpose, or was not done in public.
- Teacher-Student Sexual Misconduct
Originally, sex crimes involving teachers taking advantage of their students were charged under the "regular" categories, but several years ago when many teacher-student sex crimes were prevalent in the news media, Nevada created a special legal category of sexual misconduct between a teacher and a student.
However, it is not strictly teachers but anyone working with children in a school setting who can be charged with this crime. This includes substitute teachers, principals, school counselors, and everyone who works for the school. It applies to public schools and private schools alike and at the college/university level.
Those convicted of this crime will almost certainly lose their jobs, and many lose their job just by being accused of it. And a lifetime registration as a sex offender and an undying social stigma and difficulty in finding new employment will also likely follow.
When a teacher has sexual relations with a student, it is a crime even if the sexual contact was consensual and is always a felony offense. However, penalties are more severe the younger the student.
If the victim was 16 to 17 years old, you can get 1 to 5 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine. If the student was 14 or 15, you can get up to 6 years in state prison. For those under 14, the penalties are even more severe.
The common defenses against teacher-student sexual misconduct are the same as those against other similar sex crimes, except that the status of the parties as "teacher" and "student" could possibly be in dispute. At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we know how to defend against even the most extreme charges and do not shrink from taking on any type of sex crimes case.
- Internet Crimes Against Children
"Internet crimes" against children do not necessarily involve the Internet, which is a peculiarity of the Nevada Revised Statutes, though they oftentimes do in fact involve the Internet. This category of sex crime covers such things as possession, production, or distribution of child pornography and using "technology" (often the Internet) to lure minors into situations where they can be filmed for child porn, arrested on charges of sex crimes, or become the victims of sex crimes.
Here is how some of the different offenses covered under the rubric of Internet Crimes Against Children can be punished:
- Allowing or encouraging a minor to appear in pornographic materials is a Class A Felony, punishable by life in prison with possibility of parole after 10 years, if the child was under 14, and after 5 years if the child was over 14.
- Advertising child pornography is a Class B Felony, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $15,000.
- Possession of child pornography is a Class B Felony, punishable by up to 6 years in state prison. But a repeat offense can get you life in prison without parole.
Anyone facing any kind of charge involving child porn or other offenses covered under Internet Crimes Against Children should waste no time in availing himself of an expert defense attorney. Martin Hart has deep experience in this practice area and is familiar with the most effective defense strategies.
- Sex-Worker Crimes
Many suppose that prostitution/soliciting a prostitute are 100% legal activities in Las Vegas. This is simply not the case, however. Both of these activities, along with "pandering" (encouraging others to enter the sex-for-hire business) are against the law in all parts of Nevada. Las Vegas' culture confuses many on this point, but law enforcement are quick to correct the confusion.
Prostitution/solicitation of a prostitute are misdemeanors in Nevada, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of $1,000. You can also be subject to taking an AIDS Awareness class and rendering some form of community service. And all arrested for prostitution-related crimes must be tested for AIDS. If they test positive for HIV and then commit another prostitution-related offense, it will be a felony.
Pandering is a felony offense, punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 5 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Common defense strategies against sex-worker crime charges include:
- The defendant did not realize he/she was engaged in a prostitution relationship and thought it was simply consensual adult sex.
- When no payment has been made and no sex taken place, the prosecution may proceed based on the existence of an agreement to exchange sex for money. However, if the agreement was not "specific" and "actionable," a good lawyer can get the charge dismissed.
- Police entrapment. Many times, prostitution charges are based on sting operations, which often enough go over the legal line and constitute entrapment. In that case, the charges can be dismissed once the evidence is declared inadmissible in court.
Contact Us Today for Help
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we stand ready to apply our intricate knowledge of Nevada sex crimes law and great familiarity with local Las Vegas court processes to win your case. Martin Hart is a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer who will fight tenaciously in your best interests from day one and secure you the best possible outcome to your case.
To learn more about Nevada sex crimes defense in general or in the particular practice area, or for a free legal consultation on the details of your case, do not hesitate to call us 24/7/365 at 702-380-4278.