Nevada Sexual Assault
This article is not intended as advice for your specific matter. Rather, it is a general article about Nevada law. If you have questions about your particular case, please call Hinds Injury Law Las Vegas immediately at (702) 940-1234. This information is valid as of July 24, 2017.
What is Sexual Assault under NRS 200.366?
Section 200.366 of the NRS defines the crime of sexual assault as subjecting a person to sexual penetration (any intrusion of any part of a person’s body into a person’s genitalia) against the will of the victim or where the victim is mentally or physically incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of the conduct. Physical force is not necessary because the crime can be committed on a victim that is asleep, in fear or incapacitated. Dinkens v. State, 92 Nev. 74 (1976).
Recently, the issue has come up in the news relating to campus sexual assault allegations. The controversy is that during President Obama’s administration, colleges and universities had to change the standard of proof from clear and convincing evidence to a much weaker standard called the “preponderance of the evidence” or just over 50% in sexual assault cases. Colleges and universities would have to do this in order to be in compliance with Title IX, the federal law that guarantees gender equality in education. Of course, in criminal cases the standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Universities and colleges tried to adjudicate these cases under the new rules, but if you wouldn’t trust them to handle a murder case, why would you trust them to find guilt in a sexual assault case? The results were disastrous for many innocent students and recently, the issue has been raised by the new Dept. of Education Secretary Besty DeVos.
What are the penalties for committing sexual assault?
The penalties are as harsh as they come for committing a crime short of murder. Some would say that the penalties for murder would be preferable to those for sexual assault. The crime is a category A felony and is punished differently depending on the age of the victim and whether there was substantial bodily harm to the victim. However, under all circumstances, the person will be required to register as a sexual offender under NRS 179D.460 and will be subject to lifetime supervision under NRS 176.0931.
If substantial bodily harm results, the judge will decide whether to sentence the defendant to life in prison without parole or life in prison with parole eligibility after 10 years. If no substantial bodily harm results then the penalty is life in prison with parole eligibility after 10 years. Those penalties are superseded if the crime was committed against a child under the age of 16 years of age.
If substantial bodily harm results to the child under 16, then the penalty is life without the possibility of parole, if not then life in prison with parole eligibility after 25 years. If the child is under 14 years old and no substantial bodily harm results, then the punishment is life in prison with parole eligibility after 35 years.
What are the defenses to sexual assault?
There are many defenses that an experienced criminal defense attorney can develop. To prove the crime, the State of Nevada has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt each element – sexual penetration that was without consent. Experienced criminal defense attorneys will begin an investigation into the history of the relationship between you and the accuser. Was the sexual conduct consensual? Was there actual penetration?
If the conduct was not against the accuser’s will, then the charge cannot be proven. Husney v. O’Donnell, 95 Nev. 467 (1979). That said, a victim can show her opposition in many ways and isn’t required to do more than is reasonable under the circumstances. Dinkens v. State, 92 Nev. 74 (1976). Sometimes a person will think that the other is consenting, but is mistaken. This is a defense to the charge of rape as well under Honeycutt v. State, 118 Nev. 660 (2002).
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