Sexual Assault and Rape Charges in Nevada
In Nevada, the crime generally referred to as rape is formally called sexual assault. The legislature criminalizes sexual assault through NRS 200.366. The crime of sexual assault is committed by penetrative sexual acts against a person who does not (or cannot) consent to those acts.
NRS 200.366 states that rape is any act that “[s]ubjects another person to sexual penetration, or 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.”
Sexual Assault Penalties
Sexual assault is one of the most serious crimes in Nevada. People convicted of sexual assault face a potential life sentence in the Nevada Department of Corrections.
Sexual assault is a Category A felony, which is the highest (most serious) level of felony in the State of Nevada. A conviction carries a life sentence in State Prison as well as lifetime sexual offender registration.
The precise punishment depends primarily upon the age of the victim. If the victim was 16 years of age or older, the penalties can be:
- Life in prison without the possibility of parole, or
- Life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years, or
- Life in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years
If the victim was under the age of 16, and the defendant has no prior convictions for sexual offenses, the penalties would be:
- Life without the possibility of parole
- Life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years
- Life in prison with the possibility of parole after 35 years
How do we Defend a Sexual Assault Case?
Every case is different and requires its own unique strategy. Sexual assault penalties are so extreme that anyone accused of sexual assault needs an attorney who recognizes the need to fully investigate every possible defense available.
There are several possible arguments to fight Nevada sexual assault charges under NRS 200.366, including:
- Mistaken identity (someone assaulted the victim, but the police accused the wrong person).
- Consent (sex did occur, but the “victim” consented).
- Discredited Accuser (the accuser is biased against or has a motive to invent lies against you).
- Law enforcement violated your rights when obtaining evidence against you.
- Sexual contact did occur, but penetration did not occur.
- False accusations.
- Lack of criminal intent or mens rea
Can the Charges be Reduced to Something Less Serious?
Every case is different, but in general, the harder your attorney fights for you, the better chance you have of receiving a favorable plea deal. In any case involving a potential life sentence, such as sexual assault, you need attorneys to attack every single angle and leave no stone unturned. In many cases, it is possible to undermine the prosecution's case enough that a favorable plea deal, with much less serious penalties, can be negotiated.
How is Sexual Assault Prosecuted?
Sexual assault is usually a crime that occurs in private, so it can be difficult for the prosecution to meet their burden of proof. There is usually two witnesses two the alleged sexual assault, the defendant and the alleged victim, which makes it a “he says, she says” situation.
However, it is possible for the jury to convict a defendant based solely upon the testimony of an accuser, so long as the jury finds that testimony to be credible and to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt. But cases with only the accuser – and not any corroborating evidence – are extremely vulnerable to defense strategies at trial which can secure a not guilty verdict.
Due to the difficulty in proving sexual assault cases, the prosecutor will often rely upon circumstantial evidence. The prosecutor might obtain records of text messages, voicemails, and other recordings which support the State's theory of the case. The prosecutor will also usually reply upon expert medical testimony to support the witness's account of what happened, including testimony about rape kits and forensic examinations.
Is there a Time Limit for Sexual Assault Charges?
In Nevada, sexual assault victims have twenty years to report the incident to police. If they do not report the assault within twenty years, the prosecutor cannot prosecute the case. However, there is no time limit if the report was made within the required 20 years, or if DNA proves the identity of the rape suspect.
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Sexual assault allegations are among the most serious allegations in Nevada criminal law. Call one of our attorneys today to start fighting the case and getting your life back.