Exploring Nevada’s Domestic Violence & Battery Laws
Las Vegas Metro Police respond to more than 60,000 domestic violence calls each year.
Domestic violence can be a misdemeanor or felony charge depending on your criminal history and the exact circumstances present in the case. It’s important to find the right criminal defense attorney to help you answer to these charges. Here’s what you need to know about Nevada domestic violence and domestic battery laws.
What Is Domestic Violence Under Nevada Law?
Nevada law 200.485 prohibits domestic violence. Under the law, domestic battery is any intentional, offensive touching of a qualifying person. To put it another way, domestic violence is a wilful use of force against a person you have a domestic relationship with.
A battery can’t be an accident. It must be an intentional touching. While a person doesn’t have to be injured for a battery to occur, you must touch them both intentionally and offensively.
An Example of Domestic Violence
Pat and Kelly are roommates. They get into an argument. Pat grabs Kelly from behind. Pat throws Kelly to the floor and breaks Kelly’s wrist. Pat has committed domestic violence.
An Example That’s Not Domestic Violence
In another example, Pat and Kelly are joking around. They decide to wrestle in the living room. Pat grabs Kelly from behind. Pat jokingly throws Kelly to the floor and breaks Kelly’s wrist. This is not domestic violence.
What Are the Possible Penalties for Domestic Violence?
A first domestic violence conviction is punishable by at least two days in jail and not more than six months in jail. You must complete at least 48 hours of community service and pay a fine between $200 and $1000. The court may allow you to serve your jail time nonconsecutively so that you can work around your employment obligations.
If you get a second domestic violence conviction within seven years, you must serve between 10 days and six months in jail. You must perform 100-200 hours of community service and pay a fine of $500-1000. A third domestic violence conviction within seven years is a class C felony offense. In all cases, the court may order you to participate in weekly counseling and get treatment if they think you have an alcohol or drug problem.
Are There Common Defenses to Allegations of Domestic Battery?
Even though domestic battery cases are some of the most common types of criminal charges in Las Vegas, they are often hard for the state to prove. A domestic battery case often comes down to the credibility of the victim with little other evidence to prove who is telling the truth. It’s up to the state to prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Here are common defenses to explore in all domestic violence charges:
- The victim is lying to manipulate and control the accused person
- A touching that occurred was just an accident
- The person charged acted in self-defense
- The victim is lying to manipulate a custody or divorce case
Is Our Relationship Considered Domestic?
To be a domestic battery instead of just a battery, the victim and the offender must have a domestic relationship. Qualifying relationships include:
- Family member
- Dating relationship
A dating relationship must be more than just casual. Nevada law 33.018 defines a domestic relationship as frequent, intimate interactions with expectations of affection or sexual contact.
How Does a Domestic Violence Case Unfold?
If your case is a misdemeanor, it goes to a bench trial in front of a judge. If the case is a felony, you have the right to a jury trial. Nevada law says that the state can only offer a plea resolution if the state believes there’s a lack of evidence against you and they’re not likely to win the case at trial. That makes it critical to work with a Nevada defense attorney to build your defense aggressively and show the state’s attorney where their case is weak.
Can a Domestic Violence Conviction Impact My Custody Case?
A domestic violence conviction can have consequences that extend far beyond the criminal courtroom. If you’re convicted of domestic violence, the family court might order you to have little or no contact with your children. It can give the other side the upper hand for determining child custody and parenting time.
If you’re going through a divorce or custody proceeding or if you have an active custody case, it’s all the more critical to defend against the domestic violence charges aggressively. It’s also important to give the other person’s statements extra scrutiny as they may have a lot to gain from making sure you’re convicted of the charges against you.
What Are Some Other Common, Related Charges?
If you’re facing domestic battery charges, you might also be facing one or more related charges. Another common charge that’s related to domestic violence is assault with a deadly weapon. A deadly weapon is any object that can cause substantial bodily harm or death. For example, if you throw a heavy object at your partner, you can face this serious felony charge in addition to charges of domestic violence.
Another related charge is battery with substantial bodily harm. If a victim suffers serious injury because of domestic violence, the person who commits an act of violence can face felony charges. A serious injury is any lasting disfigurement or any injury that causes significant physical pain.
If you face one of these related charges, you have a right to a trial by jury. Your attorney can help you evaluate the charges so that you understand the accusations and what the state would need to show to prove the case against you.
How an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
When you’re facing a domestic battery charge in Las Vegas, your life turns upside down in an instant. You’re likely facing the loss of your freedom, your finances, lengthy community service, counseling requirements, and even loss of contact with your children.
Fortunately, you can fight back against a domestic battery charge. Working with a qualified defense attorney can help you build a defense that aggressively fights the charges against you. Your attorney will use their expertise to help you understand the specifics of the charges, and what options are available for fighting them.