By Ryan Tarinelli
CARSON CITY — Nevada lawmakers are considering at least 17 bills on sexual assault, sex trafficking and sexual misconduct this session.
The bills would bolster rights and add protections for survivors and make it easier to prosecute some sexual offenses.
Assemblywoman Lisa Krasner, a Republican who has signed on to several of the bills, said there’s a “more of a consciousness” on the issues in Nevada, which elected the first female-majority Legislature last year.
Here are some of the bills under consideration:
RAPES OF INCAPACITATED VICTIMS
A bill seeking to expand the legal definition of sexual assault has an amendment that includes crimes when offenders assault victims who are asleep, unconscious or so intoxicated that they are unaware of the assaults.
Supporters have said it would strengthen existing law that makes it difficult to prosecute offenders in cases when victims do not remember assaults.
Authorities would have to prove that victims were so intoxicated that they were incapable of giving consent, said John Jones, a lobbyist with the Nevada District Attorneys Association.
Nadia Hojjat of the Clark County public defender’s office said current law already allows people to be convicted of raping incapacitated people.
Democrat Assemblywoman Brittney Miller has asked for clarity over how incapacitation due to intoxication would be measured.
“At what level of intoxication do we say that that person is no longer able to make a decision?” she asked.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
This measure would eliminate the 20-year statute of limitation in sex assault cases DNA evidence exists that identifies perpetrators. It’s co-sponsored by a dozen female lawmakers.
The legislation would remove time limitations on prosecuting sexual assaults cases when accused offenders are identified through a “genetic marker analysis of a biological specimen” and DNA profiles are found.
Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford and attorney Gloria Allred spoke in support of the legislation at a hearing last week. Allred represents multiple alleged victims of R&B star R. Kelley.
Allred says the bill does “open the courthouse door” to victims who have found to be victims of sexual assault by undergoing a sexual assault forensic exam known as a rape kit.
“It sends the important message that if you are a victim of rape, who has provided a rape kit, Nevada is here to support you,” she said.
SURVIVORS’ BILL OF RIGHTS
Sexual assault victims would be allowed to consult with counselors while they are undergoing the forensic exams and while they are being interviewed by police, prosecutors and suspects’ defense attorneys.
They would also be allowed to choose the gender of law enforcement officials who interview them and get the right to know whether rape kits yielded DNA from suspects.