There are many different possible penalties for an assault or battery conviction. The exact maximum possible sentence depends on the specific details of the case. While a judge can give a unique sentence for every case they hear, there are a few factors that determine the maximum possible penalties in your case.
If you are facing an assault or battery charge, it’s important to understand the particular nuances that can affect the penalties you receive. This knowledge can help you and your Las Vegas criminal defense attorney to better develop a defense strategy that will result in the best outcome possible. Here’s what you should know about the penalties for assault and battery in Nevada.
The Difference Between Assault and Battery
To understand the maximum possible penalties for your assault and battery case, you first need to know the difference between assault and battery. That’s because Nevada is one of several states that distinguish between assault and battery when it comes to maximum penalties. Battery occurs when a person unlawfully or offensively touches another person. It’s touching someone else without their permission in an offensive way.
Assault occurs when a person puts another person in fear or apprehension of a battery. That is, the battery doesn’t have to happen, but the person who commits assault must make the other person fear offensive contact or at least know that it’s coming. If there are aggravating factors in your case, battery can bring a more serious charge than an assault.
Penalties for Basic Assault or Battery
Without any aggravating factors, an assault or battery conviction is a misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The court can also order community service instead of jail.
Not everyone convicted of assault or battery serves the maximum sentence. In fact, most people don’t get the max. The judge has discretion within these maximum penalties to order a sentence that they think is fair.
Things that Make an Assault and Battery Charge More Serious
If there are one or more aggravating factors present in your assault or battery charge, the charge is more serious than a six-month misdemeanor. It’s up to the district attorney to include the aggravating factor when they charge the crime. Then, it’s up to the jury to decide if the aggravating factor exists. If it does, you face enhanced penalties.
Use of a Deadly Weapon
If there’s a deadly weapon involved, an assault or battery charge is a felony. Assault with a deadly weapon is punishable by between one and six years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
For battery, it’s punishable by between two and ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If there’s a deadly weapon involved and other aggravating factors, the maximum penalty can be even more.
The Victim is a Member of a Protected Class
An assault or a battery becomes a gross misdemeanor if the victim is a member of a protected class. This group includes police officers, firefighters, school employees, and doctors. The maximum penalty is one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
You’re in Jail, on Probation or Parole
When you commit a battery while you’re in jail or on probation or parole, your offense is a category B felony. The maximum penalty is one to six years in prison.
If you commit an assault while you’re incarcerated, and the victim is a member of a protected class, your offense is a category D felony. This crime is punishable by one to four years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
You Wanted to Commit a More Serious Crime
If your battery was part of an attempt to do something more serious like robbery or larceny, it’s a category B felony that comes with two to ten years in prison.
If you meant to commit sexual assault and substantial harm occurs, you can get life with or without the possibility of parole after ten years. If no harm occurs, you face two or five years to life with the possibility of parole. Whether the minimum is two or five years depends on the age of the victim.
The Victim Suffers a Serious Injury
A serious injury quickly enhances an assault or battery charge. An assault becomes a category B felony, punishable by one to six years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
A battery that results in substantial bodily harm is a category C felony punishable by one to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. When there’s more than one aggravating factor present but no intent to commit a sexual assault, the maximum penalty is 20 years in prison.
When an assault or battery occurs, and the victim lives with the offender, has a current or former dating relationship with the offender or has children in common with the offender, it’s domestic violence. The district attorney can choose to bring charges of domestic violence, assault and battery or both.
A first offense domestic violence is punishable by two to 60 days in jail, 48-120 hours of community service, and a $200 to $1,000 fine. A second offense can bring ten days to six months in jail, community service, and fines. A third domestic violence conviction within seven years is a felony.
Terms of a Suspended Sentence
When the court suspends your jail sentence, you can remain free unless you violate the terms of your suspended sentence. A suspended sentence means being on probation. You must also pay restitution to the victim. This means compensating the victim for their documented financial losses because of the offense.
It’s also common for the court to order you to avoid having any contact with the victim. You may also have to take tests like a breath test or urinalysis to prove that you’re not using or abusing alcohol or controlled substances.
Defenses and Options
Going to Trial
Although an assault or battery charge is always serious, assault and battery charges are also offenses that can have room for reasonable doubt. Assault and battery cases are often one person’s word against another. Your attorney can question witnesses and present evidence to challenge the district attorney’s version of the story.
Even if you’re convicted, record sealing may be an option. Record sealing removes a conviction from public view. Hiding the record can be helpful for your employment, membership in associations and groups, and it can be good for your morale. Your attorney can help you understand what you need to do to qualify for record sealing.
Preparing Your Defenses
To prepare your best possible course of action when you’re facing an assault or battery charge, the first step is to understand the charges against you. While a simple assault or battery is a six-month misdemeanor, circumstances of the offense can make the charges much more severe. An experienced Las Vegas defense lawyer can help you understand the possible and likely penalties as well as help you prepare an aggressive and viable defense.