The latest news about Roy Moore and his attraction to teenage girls encourages new discussions about the age of consent and statutory rape. Even though he was never convicted, there is strong public opinion that he should have faced criminal charges for his actions, even though they occurred 40 years ago.
This is definitely the wrong climate to become sexually involved with those under the age of consent in Nevada. Here is an overview of these laws and the charges you may face if you are not careful with your choice of sexual partners.
Age of Consent in Nevada
The age of consent in Nevada is 16. If an adult has sex with a minor below the age of 16, it is considered a criminal act. The charges upgrade to sexual assault if the victim was under the age of 14.
There are circumstances where the age of consent is higher. Teachers, coaches, and school employees cannot have sex with students, even if the student is 16. In these cases, the age of consent is 18 unless the teacher and student are legally married.
Having sex with a partner below the age of consent is commonly known as statutory rape. However, Nevada law prefers to call it “statutory sexual seduction.”
Proving Statutory Sexual Seduction
Anyone 18 or older can face charges for statutory sexual seduction. While it is technically a violation if a 16 and 15 year old engage mutually in sexual acts, those cases are rarely prosecuted because the age difference is so close. The main concern is to protect minors from being taken advantage of by adults and those cases take priority.
Once both parties are 16 or older, statutory sexual seduction is no longer an issue. It can be sexual assault if one party did not consent to the sexual contact. As mentioned above, any sexual contact with victims under 14 is sexual assault, even if the minor consented to the act.
Proving statutory sexual seduction only involves proving the ages of the parties. If one party is below the age of consent and the other is over 18, there is no further argument. Even if a party believed the victim was older than their chronological age, that is not a defense. Prosecutors must use hard evidence to prove the victim was under the age of consent including birth certificates, immigration records, and other federal or state documents.
Penalties for the offense depends on the age of the perpetrator. If the offender is 18 to 20 years of age at the time of the crime, they face a gross misdemeanor. Punishment may include imprisonment in a county jail for no more than 365 days and a fine no more than $2,000.
However, if an individual who is under 21 has a previous sex offense conviction, they face a category D felony. Prison terms may last one to four years and fines are capped at $5,000.
Offenders who are 21 years of age or older face a category B felony. Possible prison terms range from one to 10 years and fines can reach a maximum of $10,000.
For offenses involving students and teachers or school employees, it falls under a category C felony. Prison terms range from one to five years and up to $10,000 in fines.
With few elements to prove and many emotions at stake, you risk long term impacts if you are successfully prosecuted for statutory sexual seduction. That is why it is so important to find a skilled criminal defense attorney to represent you.
It is possible to mount a successful defense against statutory sexual seduction charges. Strategies may include:
- Indeterminable age. While lack of knowledge regarding the age is not a defense, showing that the age of the victim is uncertain can reverse these charges. Prosecutors must prove the age of the victim using state records and birth certificates. If statements regarding the victim’s birthday are inconsistent or nonexistent, the charges may be dropped because the prosecutor cannot prove that the victim was under the age of consent.
- False accusations. Sometimes, defendants face charges that are untrue. Victims may advance false claims out of revenge, rage or even to sway child custody decisions in their favor.
- Lack of evidence. Like any other case, prosecutors must prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes, there is simply not enough evidence to meet this burden and judges dismiss the charges early in the proceeding.
Gabriel L. Grasso offers the legal expertise necessary to defend you against charges for statutory sexual seduction. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment so we may begin designing your defense strategy.