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Can I Go to Jail for Lewd Behavior in Las Vegas?


When people come to Las Vegas, there is a general assumption that “anything goes.” The old adage “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” may work for advertisements, but rest assured a criminal record will follow you long after you leave town. At Lobo Law, we aggressively defend clients who have been charged with crimes involving alcohol, drugs or offenses like open and gross lewdness in Las Vegas. Here’s what you need to understand about Nevada’s lewdness laws.

Definitions are Vague on Purpose 

The Legislature left open the definition of what constitutes lewdness for a reason. After all, it is a somewhat subjective standard and there’s no end to possible behaviors people may exhibit. Whether it’s a person exposing genitals on a public bus or someone defecating in public, “open or gross lewdness” is a flexible charge that can be used by prosecutors in a host of rare and unusual situations. Of course, this creates a different problem – sometimes the law is overused.

Under Nevada Revised Statutes, Section 201.210, there is no clear definition of the word “lewd,” but there are definitions of sexual acts and conduct that tends to qualify as prohibited under the statute. These include things like:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Exposing genitals
  • Lewd or lascivious conduct with one’s own body or someone else’s
  • Public masturbation
  • Any form of oral sexual stimulation

How Serious Are Lewdness Laws? 

Very. In fact, a first offense is a gross misdemeanor, which can carry a jail term and huge fines. Worse yet, a subsequent offense is generally a Class D felony, which almost always carries the potential for over a year in jail. Plus, felonies can have a wide range of other effects on one’s life.

While it may come as a bit of a surprise that lewd conduct can be so illegal in a place where prostitution and marijuana use are widely reported as legal, the fact is that even both of those are not really understood by most people – even folks who live in Las Vegas. The truth is, marijuana is legal for use in Las Vegas, but only in private homes and only when purchased from licensed dispensaries. Even then, there are many rules that limit marijuana, making it extremely difficult for tourists to buy or use it legally in the city.

Likewise, prostitution is not actually legal in Las Vegas. It is only legal in certain counties but is illegal in counties with populations of more than 700,000 – which includes Clark County, Nevada. Therefore, the vast majority of Las Vegas prostitution is illegal.

Getting Serious Legal Help After an Arrest 

After being arrested in Las Vegas, hiring a lawyer should be your number one priority. You cannot afford a felony or sex crime on your record – even if you made an innocent or honest mistake. Maybe you drank too much and just wanted to let down your guard on vacation. Perhaps you were convinced that Vegas was more relaxed about public behavior. Whatever the case, you deserve a fighting chance when going up against the government’s lawyers. Give Lobo Law a call today to see if we can help.

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