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Nevada senator wants stiffer penalties for soliciting sex on children under 14

Updated March 8, 2017 - 9:58 pm

CARSON CITY — Predators who try to solicit children under the age of 14 for sex could be charged with trafficking, under a bill in the Nevada Legislature.

Someone convicted of the offense would face a prison term of 15 years to life. Supporters of Senate Bill 214 say the tough penalty is needed to fight the scourge of human trafficking.

“It’s a much stiffer penalty, but again these children are under the age of 14,” bill sponsor Sen. Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Under existing law, the punishment escalates for second and third offense and starts with a class E felony, which carries one to four years in prison.

Representatives for the Clark and Washoe county public defenders offices raised concerns, saying a defendant’s intent to commit a crime includes knowing the facts that make the conduct illegal. Under that principle, the bill does not account for situations like a defendant making a reasonable mistake in age and intending to commit a lesser crime of soliciting, they said.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-0661. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.

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