Ava had just turned 15 when her mom picked her up early from school and drove her to the Clark County Courthouse to see the judge. Ava wasn’t in trouble. She was seeking the judge’s permission to get married.
Her father, a soldier in the U.S. Army, was an alcoholic and was abusive when he was home. Ava believed marrying her 18-year-old boyfriend would be her golden ticket to happiness, safety, and contentment.
Her mom was easy to convince. Ava’s boyfriend had promised to pay all of her bills if she would approve the marriage.
In America, about 250,000 children — some as young as ten — have been legally married since 2000.
The stats are mind-boggling. Getting married under 18-years is legal in all 50 states. Half of those states, including Nevada, have no minimum age requirements.
It would take several more articles to fully explore the lunacy which says a 15-year old can’t have sex with someone 18 but can marry them.
Nevada Age of Sexual Consent Laws 2018
Nevada’s age of consent is 16-years-old. That is the minimum age where a person is deemed juridically old enough to participate in a consensual sexual activity. Persons 15-years-old or younger are not lawfully empowered to consent.
Nevada’s statutory rape laws are broken when an individual has consensual intercourse with a person under 16.
Romeo & Juliet Laws
Nevada’s laws do not include a “close-in-age” exemption. Often identified as ‘Romeo and Juliet’ laws, close in age exemptions are in place to block prosecutorial attempts of persons who participate in a consensual sexual activity when each party is close in age, but one, or both, parties are under the age of consent.
As there is no Romeo and Juliet law in Nevada, two individuals, bother under 16, who engage in consensual intercourse could be punished for statutory rape. No safeguards are maintained for situations where one party is 15, and the other is 16 or 17.
The state has multiple statutory sexual abuse charges which are relied on to prosecute crimes within the state. One, or more, of the accusations, could be used to prosecute violations.
Commission of sexual acts in public — Category D Felony
Prison for 1-4 years and a maximum fine of $5k
Lewdness with a child under 14 — Category A Felony
Life in prison and no parole or life in prison with the possibility of parole after ten years (depending on circumstances)
Sexual assault — Category A Felony
Life without the possibility of parole or life with the chance of parole after twenty-years
Sexual conduct between employees of college or university and student — Category C Felony
Imprisonment between 1 and five years with the possibility of a maximum fine of $10,000
Sexual conduct between school employees (or volunteers) and pupil — Category B Felony
Either imprisoned for one to six years and a $5K fine or imprisoned for 1 to 5 years and a maximum fine of $10,000
Soliciting a minor for sexual acts — Category A Felony
Life in prison with the chance of parole after five years, or life imprisonment with the chance for parole after ten years and up to a $2K fine
Statutory Sexual Seduction — Category C Felony
Punishment falls within guidelines outlined in Nevada law (NRS 193.130, or NRS 201.540)
Fighting the Charges
Statutory rape charges in Nevada do not always end in conviction. A person’s charges may be dismissed when:
- The accusations are false
- The victim’s age cannot be established
- The prosecution fails to provide sufficient evidence
Ignorance of the victim’s age is never permitted as an excuse regardless of how old the person may have looked or claimed.
Statutory Rape Laws Have a Checkered Past
A case before the Georgia Supreme Court illustrates how the law may misfire if it doesn’t keep up with changing morals.
In Dixon v. State, Marcus Dwayne Dixon was convicted of statutory rape for having sex with his 15-year-old classmate. Dixon was 18 at the time.
The case drew assertions of racialism since the victim was white and Dixon black.
One provocative question added to the visibility of this event: Can the law legitimately place teenagers behind bars for engaging in sex with other teens when force is absent. Dixon v. State challenged long traditions of criminal law which imprison men for consented sex with minor females who are near the age of legal adulthood.
Statutory rape laws have a checkered past, and the main objective was to preserve the virginity of “young maidens” facing corruption by unscrupulous cads. To hand over one’s “virtue” to someone reluctant to return with his hand in marriage was seen foolish and the result of adolescent, weak reasoning.
The law dealt more with guarding maidenlike virginity than the violence and force which define forcible rape. One indication is the fact a man could, and in Nevada, still can defend himself against statutory rape accusations by proving his victim was sexually active before their encounter and thus wasn’t ‘corrupted’ by the defendant.