Nevada takes sex crimes involving children very seriously. This is, after all, something that should be taken quite seriously. However, the strictness of these laws can make the defense of someone who is, for example, falsely accused of this crime or is otherwise innocent of what they’re being charged with somewhat difficult. Cases of this nature, in which there is a great deal of stigma or taboo involved, can make even the mere allegation of such a thing devastating for the person being charged.
This shadow of possible guilt may extend even further – affecting their family, their co-workers or place of employment, and any other organization with which they might be affiliated. It is a necessity that the law not only penalizes those who are found guilty of their crimes but also vindicates those who are innocent. Anyone who has been charged with the crime of lewdness with a child needs to make the acquisition of a very experienced attorney their top priority.
The Legal Definition of Lewdness with a Child Under 14 Years of Age
As paraphrased for clarity from NRS 201.230, lewdness with a child under 14 years is:
- When a person willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act upon or with the body or any part of a child who is under the age of 14, with the intention of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions or sexual desires of that person or that child. This includes any acts that are not considered to fall under the crime of sexual assault – meaning any act that involves sexual activity up to but not including unlawful penetration.
For example, physical touching that is intended to be sexual in nature is considered lewdness. If that touching involves physical penetration of any kind, it becomes statutory rape. The physical touching also does not have to involve the sexual organ, of either the adult or the child involved. It is simply the sexual intent of the touching that qualifies as lewdness.
Penalties for the Conviction of Lewdness with a Child in Nevada
Penalties for sexual crimes involving children have significant penalties in the state of Nevada, including life in prison and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
A conviction for committing lewdness with a child who is under 14 years old is a category A felony.
First Time Offense
The penalty for this crime for someone for whom this is a first time offense of this nature is:
- A life sentence in Nevada state prison, with the eventual possibility for parole. Parole eligibility starts when a minimum of 10 years have been served.
- Fines up to but not exceeding $10,000.
- Mandatory registration with the Nevada Sex Offender Registry for life as well as lifelong monitoring by the Nevada Department of Parole and Probation if parole is approved after the minimum 10 year sentence.
Second Time Offense
A conviction for this crime for someone who has been previously convicted of either lewdness with a child or any other sexual offense against a child or who has committed an offense in another jurisdiction that, had it been committed in Nevada, would have constituted lewdness with a child or any other sexual offense against a child is also a category A felony. The penalty in this case is:
- A life sentence in Nevada state prison without the possibility for parole.
A conviction for lewdness with a minor under 16 years old is a category B felony.
First Time Offense
The penalty for this crime, if it is a first time offense is:
- From 1 to 10 years in Nevada State Prison
- Fines up to $10,000
- Mandatory registration with the Nevada Sex Offender Registry for life, as well as lifelong monitoring by the Nevada Department of Parole and Probation upon release from prison.
Are There Defenses Against a Charge of Lewdness with a Child Under 14?
This crime does have several possible defenses that may apply to different situations.
- False Allegations – Because this crime involves children, who can sometimes lie about or exaggerate the events of an encounter of this nature without having any grasp of the consequences of their lie, cases of false allegations do occur. For cases involving children under the age of 14, and most often for children who are under the age of 10, the court may require the prosecution to bring in an expert witness who can assess whether or not the child in question both understands what the truth of the matter is or was and that they are telling the truth about the encounter.
- Lack of Sexual Intention – This crime is only a crime of lewdness if the contact with the minor was done with a sexual intention. If there is no proof that the contact in question was of a sexually intended nature, then the charge of lewdness cannot be applied.
- Age of the Child – This charge also cannot be considered lewdness with a child under 14 or lewdness with a minor under 16 if the child is older than these limits. There will need to be solid proof that the child or minor in question was of a relevant age when the act in question took place.
- Insufficient Evidence – The prosecution is responsible for proving that guilt in this matter is beyond a reasonable doubt in order for a conviction to be made. If the evidence presented in the case is inadequate, contradictory, or unreliable, then the charges should not stand in court.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with the crime of lewdness with a child, it is imperative that you seek the assistance of an experienced, professional attorney who understands Nevada’s laws and penalties for crimes of this nature. Because the penalties for a conviction of this crime are so serious and so damaging, the sooner you begin work with a qualified attorney, the better. We offer free case evaluations and are willing to hear your side of the story.