In light of recent changes to Nevada sex offender registration requirements, it’s important to do everything possible to avoid conviction of alleged sex-related offenses such as “sexual assault.” While the path towards clearing your name may involve working with a defense attorney, the first step should be to understand how the Nevada criminal justice system treats these offenses.
Nevada defines sexual assault as the sexual penetration of a victim who is mentally unable to consent or resist the act, against the will of the victim (Nevada Revised Statute Section 200.366). Consent is not considered provided if the victim:
- Resists the sexual assault;
- Is under the state’s age of consent;
- Is impaired due to alcohol or drugs; or
- Has a mental disability.
The specific circumstances surrounding the event will determine how the offense is punished. The age of the alleged victim can also play a significant factor in the outcome of the case.
- If the alleged victim is 16 years or older at the time of the offense, the offender can be found guilty of a category A felony. This may come with life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years of imprisonment. If the alleged victim sustained substantial injury, the offender may face life without the possibility of parole or with the possibility of parole after 15 years imprisonment.
- If the alleged victim was under 16 years old at the time of the offense, the offender may face life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 25 years imprisonment. If there was substantial bodily injury, the offender may face life in prison with no possibility of parole.
- If the alleged victim is under the age of 14 years old, the penalties increase to life with the possibility of parole after 35 years in a Nevada State prison. There is no possibility of parole if the alleged victim sustained substantial bodily harm.
While the penalties for sexual assault are very clear, issues often arise due to how subjective some elements of the case may be. The charge itself may even be false or exaggerated. Despite the strength of the evidence present (or lack of evidence), the prosecution may be eager to convict. Additionally, the jury may not be entirely impartial (making jury selection an important part of your defense).
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and law enforcement agencies across the state do not take sexual offenses lightly. During investigation and questioning, they may be overly aggressive. Under this pressure, you may misspeak accidentally or give conflicting details. Attempting to protest your innocence is ill-advised. Anything you say will indeed be held against you in court. It’s in your best interests to work with a Las Vegas sexual assault attorney from the moment of arrest. He or she can help you avoid self-incrimination and begin building a strong defense.
Given the consequences of a conviction for sexual assault on your life and the very public nature of sex offender registration, you should carefully consider all of your legal options. An experienced defense attorney can help you fight for a case dismissal or not guilty finding. These are preferable outcomes as they maintain your innocence and help you clear your name.