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Is "I Didn't Know He/She Was Underage" a Valid Defense to Statutory Rape?

In the state of Nevada, the age of consent when a person may knowingly and legally choose to engage in sexual activity is 16. Adults who have sex with minors younger than this age can be arrested and charged with statutory rape, a serious sex crime with harsh criminal penalties upon conviction. But what happens if a person has sex with a minor under the belief that the minor is actually of age?

Ignorance Is Not a Defense

Statutory rape is considered a “strict liability crime,” meaning that a defendant can be found guilty of this type of offense even if he/she was genuinely unaware that the alleged victim was under the age of consent. In other words, it is irrelevant whether or not the defendant had knowledge of the victim’s age, nor whether the minor agreed to the act. As impractical as it may be, adults have a legal responsibility to verify the age of all sexual partners.

Defendants can still be found guilty of statutory rape even under the following circumstances:

  • The minor lied about their age
  • The minor had a fake ID
  • The minor expressed their consent
  • The minor initiated the activity

Possible Defenses to Statutory Rape

Although pleading ignorance of a minor’s age is not a valid defense, there are still several different strategies that an attorney can use to defend against charges of statutory rape. Possible defenses include:

  • False accusations: Like domestic violence and sexual assault charges, many people who are charged with statutory rape are falsely accused by others out of anger, revenge, or some other ulterior motive. An attorney can seek to expose these allegations as false by identifying inconsistencies in the statements of the accuser, witnesses, and police.
  • Age of consent: If the alleged victim was indeed 16 years of age or older at the time of the sexual act, then the statutory rape charges cannot stand.
  • Lack of evidence: A defendant may only be convicted of statutory rape if the prosecution is able to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If an attorney can argue that the state’s evidence is insufficient or allows for too much ambiguity, the prosecution may reduce or dismiss the charges.

Accused of Statutory Rape? Call

If you have been accused of statutory rape, it is imperative you contact a powerful Las Vegas criminal defense attorney from the Law Office of David R. Fischer as soon as possible to begin building your defense.

Take a look at the benefits of hiring our firm:

  • Skilled negotiation & specialized settlement advocacy training
  • Recognized by Super Lawyers, and more for excellent service
  • Client-centered advocacy backed by thousands of hearings

With a 100% dedication to preserving the rights of the accused and a lengthy history of case victories, we have what it takes to guard your well-being during this frightening time.

Schedule your free case review today to find out more about how we can help.