Despite significant legal progress, there’s still confusion surrounding the specifics of what’s considered lawful under Nevada’s sexual conduct statutes. In a historic move, Nevada repealed its anti-sodomy laws in 1993, formerly categorized under “the infamous crime against nature,” which prohibited all non-vaginal penetrative sexual acts. This reform marked a pivotal shift towards legal tolerance, yet it’s essential to recognize the exceptions that still apply under the state’s NRS 201.190. Despite significant legal progress, there’s still confusion surrounding the specifics of what’s considered lawful under Nevada’s sexual conduct statutes. This blog aims to demystify the current legislation regarding sodomy, clarifying what activities remain illegal today.

NRS 201.190 | Is Sodomy Still Illegal in Nevada?

Is Sodomy Legal in Nevada Today?

Previously, any non-vaginal sex act involving penetration was classified under sodomy and was punishable by law. However, since the repeal of Nevada’s sodomy law in 1993, the legal landscape has shifted considerably.

As of today, Nevada legally permits consenting adults, aged 16 and above, to engage in both oral and anal sex. The repeal of strict sodomy laws over two decades ago represented a significant advance towards respecting personal freedoms. Currently, the remnants of the state’s former anti-sodomy statute, NRS 201.190, solely prohibit performing these acts in public venues.

It’s noteworthy that while NRS 201.190 specifically addresses oral and anal sex in public, it does not expressively outlaw vaginal intercourse in such settings. To cover this gap, Nevada enforces another statute, Open and Gross Lewdness (NRS 201.210), which bans all sexual acts in public, regardless of their nature.

For residents and visitors in Nevada, understanding these distinctions is crucial to navigate personal and legal boundaries responsibly. Knowledge of what the law permits can prevent potential legal issues and promote a respectful community environment.

What Legal Consequences Do Individuals Face for Public Anal or Oral Sex in Nevada?

In Nevada, engaging in anal or oral sex in public settings is considered a category D felony, as detailed under the revised remnants of the state’s sodomy law, specifically NRS 201.190. The consequences of such actions can include:

  • Imprisonment ranging from 1 to 4 years in a Nevada State Prison,
  • Possible fines reaching up to $5,000, based on the judgment of the court, and
  • Mandatory registration as a Tier I sex offender under NRS 179D.113.

Private, consensual non-vaginal penetrative sex among adults remains legal within the state.

Non-Consensual Penetrative Sex
In instances of non-consensual penetrative acts, the offense escalates to sexual assault, also known as rape, regardless of whether the act was vaginal or not, in accordance with NRS 200.366. Classified as a category A felony, the penalties for sexual assault are severe and include:

  • A potential life sentence,
  • Tier III sex offender registration under NRS 179D.117, with parole possibilities variably dependent upon the victim’s age and the defendant’s prior criminal history.

For Victims Aged 16 or Older
Penalties range from life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, to life with parole eligibility after 10 or 15 years, depending on whether substantial bodily harm was inflicted.

For Victims Under 16
The severity of punishment intensifies, with life without parole for causing substantial bodily harm. For those without prior sex offense convictions, parole possibilities arise after 25 or 35 years depending on the child’s age and presence of substantial bodily harm.

Prior Offenders with Victims Under 16
The law mandates life imprisonment without parole for repeat offenders.

It’s crucial to note that individuals under 16 generally cannot give consent to penetrative sex acts. A narrow exception exists for teens aged 14 or 15 engaged with partners less than four years older.

Statutory Sexual Seduction Penalties
Known colloquially as statutory rape, statutory sexual seduction sanctions vary by the defendant’s age and past convictions.

  • For defendants 21 or older, it is a Category B felony, with penalties including 1 to 10 years in prison, fines up to $10,000, and Tier III sex offender registration.
  • Defendants under 21 without a prior sex crime conviction face gross misdemeanor charges, potential jail time up to 364 days, fines up to $2,000, and Tier I sex offender registration.
  • Previous offenders under 21 could be charged with a Category D felony, facing 1 to 4 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines, accompanied by Tier III sex offender registration.

This simplified guide aims to clarify the complex nature of Nevada’s legal penalties related to consensual and non-consensual sexual acts, focusing on readability and SEO to ensure it reaches individuals seeking clarification on these serious matters.

Beyond Criminal Penalties: The Shadow of Civil Litigation
The legal challenges do not end with the criminal penalties for those involved in a bigamist marriage. They may also find themselves entangled in civil lawsuits, where affected parties—such as the unknowing legal spouse—can bring actions for fraud and emotional distress. These civil actions recognize the profound personal and emotional violations that accompany bigamous relationships, offering a legal avenue for compensation for the hurt parties.

What Are Valid Defense Strategies for Public Indecency Charges in Nevada?

In Nevada, charges against individuals alleged to have engaged in oral or anal sex in public, according to NRS 201.190, can sometimes be contested with a few key defenses. The following points outline potential strategies for fighting such accusations:

  1. Wrongly Accused: The defendant may have been wrongly targeted out of spite or vengeance, leading to baseless allegations.
  2. Mistaken Identity: Police could have confused the accused with someone else, leading to an incorrect identification.
  3. Age of the Defendant: The anti-sodomy statute does not apply to individuals under 18; however, minors could face alternate repercussions for public displays of affection.
  4. No Prohibited Acts Conducted: Should evidence confirm that neither oral nor anal sex took place, the defendant might instead be subject to penalties for open and gross lewdness if other sexual activities occurred in public.
  5. Privacy of the Act: If it can be proven that the intimate encounter occurred in a private location out of the public’s view, then there may have been no infraction.

In such trials, surveillance footage and testimonies from witnesses are commonly presented as evidence. It is important to note that consent to the sexual act, or the absence of public witnesses to the act, does not constitute a defense against these charges.

What Was the Historical Sodomy Law in Nevada?

In 1911, Nevada enacted a statute, known as NRS 201.190, which criminalized what it referred to as “the infamous crime against nature.” This law was originally drafted as follows:

Offenses that deviated from natural procreative sexual acts, whether conducted with another person or an animal, warranted imprisonment. Penalties ranged from a one-year minimum to a possible life sentence.

The phrase “infamous crime against nature” lacked precision, prompting interpretation by the Nevada Supreme Court in 1914, where the court expounded: It was inferred that all unnatural acts involving penetrative sex, other than vaginal intercourse which could facilitate reproduction, fell within the definition of the “infamous crime against nature.”

Essentially, “sodomy” was understood to encompass any sexual activity not conducive to procreation. Although the law initially extended to forbid sexual acts with animals (a prohibition that remains valid under the more recently instituted NRS 201.455, addressing bestiality, in 2017), the focus on human sexual conduct underwent significant legal transformation.

In 1993, Nevada repealed its sodomy laws, effectively decriminalizing consensual conduct between adults, regardless of the specific sexual act. This legislative change occurred a decade before the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case in 2003, where the U.S. Supreme Court declared that similar laws criminalizing homosexual relations were unconstitutional.

For further legal assistance and to discuss your case with an expert, don’t hesitate to contact ATAC LAW.