Child Abuse & Neglect

In Nevada, child abuse, neglect, and endangerment is defined as willfully causing a child under the age of 18 to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering. The five forms of child abuse recognized by the law include mental abuse, physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse or exploitation, and endangerment.

Depending on the seriousness of the case, child abuse is prosecuted as a gross misdemeanor or felony. In some cases, the judge may grant probation in lieu of prison and some defendants may plea bargain the charges to a lesser offense or a full dismissal.

Physical Abuse

In Nevada, the following forms of physical abuse are illegal: punching, pushing, kicking, burning, crushing, cutting, strangling, throwing an object at a child, or doing anything else that causes unjustifiable pain. Corporal punishments like spanking or smacking are allowed under Nevada law.

If the child dies from an alleged act of physical abuse, then the defendant will be charged with first-degree murder. If the child survives but suffers grave abuse, the charge may be attempted murder.

A defendant accused of child abuse causing death may only be convicted of one charge: child abuse or murder, but not both.

However, if the defendant commits more than one act of child abuse and the child dies, then that person may be charged and convicted of both murder and child abuse. This is because part of the abuse was unrelated to the abuse that caused the child’s death.

Emotional Abuse

Under Nevada law, child emotional abuse is behavior that injures a child’s intellectual, psychological, or emotional capacity to the point of impairing normal range of performance.

Emotional abuse may include repeatedly telling a child that he or she is worthless, brainwashing or radicalizing a child with destructive or violent beliefs, or prohibiting a child from going to school, learning, or playing.

Emotional or mental abuse can cause intellectual, psychological, and emotional deficiencies in a child that hinder the development of academic and social skills.

To prove emotional abuse, prosecutors use psychological evaluations, medical experts, and witnesses of the child’s behavior.

Sexual Abuse

In Nevada, the age of consent is 16. Child sexual abuse includes acts of sexual assault and rape (resulting in penetration), incest, open or gross lewdness (sex acts without penetration), incest, and lewdness with a child under 16.

Sexual Exploitation

In Nevada, pimping a child for prostitution, using a child to make pornography, or exhibiting a child in a sexual way is sexual exploitation of a minor.


Child neglect is abandoning a child or leaving a child without proper supervision, food, shelter, medicine, or other necessary care. Child neglect is illegal inaction. Death from child neglect cannot be prosecuted as murder.

Medical Maltreatment

Parents or guardians are legally allowed to use non-medical treatments to nurse a sick child under the following conditions:

  • The non-medical treatment is recognized by the medical community as a suitable alternative
  • The parent or guardian chose the treatment in good faith

However, a parent or guardian may face neglect allegations if the child required immediate medical attention but didn’t receive treatment within a reasonable amount of time.

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