Nevada Statutory Rape Laws

Statutes governing Nevada's age of consent, associated criminal charges, available defenses, and penalties for conviction.

By , MSLIS · Long Island University
Updated by Rebecca Pirius, Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated September 14, 2023

People who engage in sexual activity with children younger than 16 may be prosecuted for statutory rape crimes in Nevada. The state also has laws that prohibit sexual relations between teachers and students who are 16 and older.

What Is the Age of Consent in Nevada?

Sixteen is the age of consent in Nevada. In a prosecution for statutory rape, it's irrelevant whether the victim consented, or even initiated the activity. Sex with an underage person is illegal, period. Of course, someone who commits a sex act against another person, whether an adult or a child, by means of force or fear can expect to be prosecuted for sexual assault.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 200.366, 200.508 (2023).)

Nevada's Statutory Rape Laws and Penalties

While Nevada doesn't use the term "statutory rape," the age-based conduct involved falls under the definition of several criminal acts.

Statutory Sexual Seduction: Crime and Penalties

A person commits the crime of statutory sexual seduction by engaging in consensual sexual intercourse, oral or anal sex, or any other sexual penetration with a 14- or 15-year-old when the defendant is 18 or older and at least 4 years older than the victim. For example, a 19-year-old who engages in heavy petting with a 14-year-old may be prosecuted for this crime.

The penalties for statutory sexual seduction depend on the age of the defendant.

Age 21 and older. If the defendant is 21 or older, statutory rape is a category B felony, punishable by one to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Age 18 to 20. Defendants age 18 to 20 face gross misdemeanor penalties of up to 364 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. However, if that 18- to 20-year-old defendant has a prior sex offense conviction, the penalty increases to a category D felony, which carries one to four years of prison time and a $5,000 maximum fine.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 193.140, 200.364, 200.368 (2023).)

Sexual Assault: Crime and Penalties

A person commits the crime of sexual assault by engaging in sexual intercourse, oral or anal sex, or any other sexual penetration with a child younger than 14. To be convicted, the defendant must be at least 18 or, if younger than 18, at least 2 years older than the victim. A conviction for sexual assault—a category A felony—carries a prison sentence of 35 years to life.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.366 (2023).)

Sexual Conduct Between Teachers and Students: Crimes and Penalties

It is also a crime in Nevada for a person age 21 or older in a position of authority at a public or private school, college, or university (such as a teacher, instructor, coach, or administrator) to engage in sexual conduct with a student 16 or older who is enrolled or attending the same school. This offense is a category C felony, punishable by one to five years in prison, and a fine of not more than $10,000.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 201.540, 201.550 (2023).)

Does Nevada Have a Romeo-and-Juliet Law for Close-in-Age Teens?

In many states, lawmakers have enacted "Romeo and Juliet" exceptions to protect young people from criminal prosecution based on consensual sex with their peers. Nevada is one of them.

Under Nevada's laws, statutory seduction charges don't apply when both teens are younger than 18 or when the two people are less than four years apart in age. The law also carries less severe penalties for acts committed by adults younger than 21.

The sexual assault laws are less lenient but still offer close-in-age protections. For this offense, teens younger than 18 who are less than two years apart in age (like a 13- and 14-year-old) don't fall under the criminal provisions.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 200.364, 200.366, 200.368 (2023).)

Defenses to a Statutory Rape Charge in Nevada

Defendants charged with statutory rape offenses have the usual defenses available to all criminal defendants, such as "Someone else committed this crime," or "The alleged conduct did not occur." The marriage defense also applies to sexual conduct cases between teachers and students.

Consent, of course, is not a defense to this strict liability crime, and neither is mistake of age. Nevada follows the majority rule that a defendant's mistaken belief that a child is over the age of consent is no defense to a charge of statutory rape, even if the child actively misrepresents their age. (Jenkins v. State, 877 P.2d 1063 (1994).)

Statutory Rape and Sex Offender Registration in Nevada

People in Nevada who are convicted of any sex crime are required to register as sex offenders. Sex offender registration lasts at least 10 years. Failure to register is a felony and extends the registration period.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 179D.095, 179D.097, 179D.441, 179D.490, 179D.550 (2023).)

Getting Legal Help

A conviction for statutory rape can have serious consequences, including time in prison or jail, sex offender registration, and a criminal record. If you are charged with statutory rape, contact a local criminal defense attorney in Nevada.

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