Assault with a deadly weapon in Nevada is a very serious felony carrying high fines and/or prison time. It also looks awful on your criminal record and may keep you from getting hired for various jobs.
Keep reading to learn about the Clark County crime of assault with a deadly weapon and how our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers may be able to help get your charges reduced or dismissed. Phone us today at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation.
Legal Definition of Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Las Vegas, Nevada
In order to understand the Nevada offense of assault with deadly weapon, let's break it down into its two components: 1) assault, and 2) deadly weapon.
The Nevada crime of assault comprises either:
- "Unlawfully attempting to use physical force against another person; or
- Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm."
So assault does not involve actual physical touching-if there is touching, it would then be the Nevada crime of battery. Instead, assault is like attempted battery where the suspect intentionally acts in a way that causes the "victim" reasonable apprehension of being unlawfully touched in the immediate future.
A common example of assault includes deliberately holding up your fist to someone in a way that would make the person think you're about to punch him/her. Even using fighting words like, "I'm gonna break your arm right now" may qualify as assault under certain circumstances.
Like it sounds, deadly weapons comprise the following kinds of devices:
- "Any instrument which, if used in the ordinary manner contemplated by its design and construction, will or is likely to cause substantial bodily harm or death, or
- Any weapon, device, instrument, material or substance which, under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing substantial bodily harm or death" (NRS 193.165)
Therefore, deadly weapons aren't just guns or knives but could also include normally innocuous objects like pipes or bricks that could be used in a deadly way.
Assault with a deadly weapon
The Las Vegas crime of assault with a deadly weapon is an assault "made with the use of a deadly weapon or the present ability to use a deadly weapon." So this includes situations where you don't necessarily use or brandish the weapon . . . simply having the weapon on your person or within your reach during the assault would qualify as assault with a deadly weapon.
Typical scenarios amounting to an assault with a deadly weapon in Nevada include pulling a gun or knife on another person. In a bar fight context, hurling a beer bottle at someone else might qualify as well. Throwing a punch usually won't be considered an assault with a deadly weapon unless you're someone like a professional boxer or wearing "brass knuckles."
Assault with a deadly weapon is a scary crime to be charged with in Nevada. But remember that you cannot be convicted of it if the prosecutor fails to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. Depending on your case, there may be various effective strategies your attorney could use that could raise this reasonable doubt. Typical defenses include:
- Lack of intent. Assault is an intent crime-you cannot be convicted if you didn't intend to act in the way that caused someone else reasonable apprehension of being battered. So if the state's evidence fails to demonstrate that you had intent, then the case should be dismissed. Accidents don't count as assaults.
- Lack of reasonable apprehension. Assault by definition is intentionally acting in such a way that puts someone else in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm. So if your attorney can show that the victim's fear was unreasonable or that the bodily harm threatened was not immediate, then the case should be thrown out.
- Self-defense. Nevada self defense laws permit you to defend yourself against immediate bodily harm as long as you don't fight back with any more force than necessary. So if your attorney can show that the other person "started it" and that you acted reasonably, then you shouldn't be found guilty.
- Consent. This defense usually comes into play in the arena of sports where physical contact is just part of the game. If your attorney can show that the other person somehow consented to being assaulted, then the assault charges won't stand.
- No deadly weapon. If the prosecution can't show that a deadly weapon was used or was available to be used, the charge should be at least reduced to plain assault (which is only a misdemeanor).
Assault with a deadly weapon is a category B felony in Las Vegas carrying
- 1 - 6 years in Nevada State Prison, and/or
- up to $5,000 in fines
This penalty remains the same whether or not the assault was against a "protected class" such as police officers or whether it was committed by a prisoner or someone currently on parole or probation in Nevada.
Depending on the case, a criminal defense attorney may be able to persuade the prosecutors to dismiss a Nevada assault with a deadly weapon charge down to:
All of these offenses are only misdemeanors in Nevada. The standard sentence includes:
- up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- up to $1,000 in fines (or equivalent community service time)
Call us if you've been arrested . . .
If you've been charged with assault or any other crime in Nevada, then call our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) today for a free phone meeting. We will do everything possible to try to get your case reduced to lesser charges or dismissed so your criminal record stays clean.
To learn about California assault with a deadly weapon law, go to our information page on California assault with a deadly weapon.