June 11, 2015
Las Vegas, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt issued the following statement on Assembly Bill (AB) 49, AB 193 and Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 17, otherwise known as Marsy’s Law. Taken together, these pieces of legislation enhance penalties for various crimes involving sexual offenses against children; add various provisions regarding expert testimony; change rules governing the admission of evidence in sexual assault cases; and permit hearsay evidence to be admitted at certain pre-trial proceedings. Once passed, Marsy’s Law will amend the Nevada Constitution to expand victims’ existing rights.
“I will continue to fight for victims of crime to ensure that their voices are heard, and am encouraged by those elected officials and community members who have lent support in this effort,” said Laxalt. “Ultimately, this office is committed to ensuring that the most vulnerable receive the respect, care and assistance they need to cope with the crime or crimes committed against them.”
AB 49, a bill sponsored by the Office of the Nevada Attorney General, revises various provisions regarding sexual offenses. Among other requirements, the bill enhances penalties for various crimes involving sexual offenses against children; sets forth new provisions relating to expert testimony in the prosecution for cases of sex trafficking and sexual abuse of children; allows for the presumption of admissibility of prior sexual offenses committed by a defendant in his or her own prosecution; prevents defendants from imposing psychological examinations on victims of certain sex offenses; and establishes the crime of unlawful dissemination of an intimate image of a person, in response to the growing problem of revenge pornography.
Washoe County District Attorney Christopher Hicks stated, “These bills mark a significant improvement to our criminal justice system. They will empower and protect victims of crimes in Nevada for years to come.”
AB 193 permits hearsay evidence at pre-trial hearings and grand jury proceedings for the following types of sexual offenses involving children aged 16 and under: sexual assault; statutory sexual seduction; battery with intent to commit sexual assault; child sexual abuse; lewdness with a child; and sex trafficking, to name a few types of cases. The bill also applies to cases of physical abuse of children aged 16 and under, as well as for victims of domestic violence whose injuries result in substantial bodily harm to the victim. As a result of this bill, audiovisual testimony will also be permitted in certain circumstances in pre-trial hearings and grand jury proceedings.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson commented, “AB 49 and AB 193 passed during the 2015 legislative session are instrumental to protecting victims of crime and giving prosecutors the tools they need to seek the appropriate justice in each case.”
SJR 17, or Marsy’s Law, proposes an amendment to the Nevada Constitution in an effort to expand victims’ rights. The resolution would create a victims’ bill of rights expanding these existing rights to require, in part, that victims be treated with fairness and respect throughout the criminal justice process; be reasonably protected from the defendants that committed crimes against them, have their safety and the safety of their families acknowledged when considering the release of a defendant prior to trial, after conviction, or on parole; and receive full and timely restitution. In order for Marsy’s Law to ultimately become a part of Nevada’s Constitution, the resolution must again pass both houses of the legislature in 2017, and be voted on by the people in 2018.
For more information on AB 49, AB 193 and SJR 17 or Marsy’s Law, visit leg.state.nv.us.