Nevada "Assault with Deadly Weapon" Laws (NRS 200.471)
(Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys)

Assault with a deadly weapon is a very serious Nevada felony even though these incidents often do not result in any injuries or even any physical touching. 

NRS 200.471 reads: "Assault means (1) Unlawfully attempting to use physical force against another person; or (2) Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm."

Charges for assault with a deadly weapon often arise out of verbal arguments that escalate or during other criminal acts, such as the Nevada offense of robbery or Nevada road rage.

Examples

Common "assault with a deadly weapon" scenarios in Nevada include:

  • brandishing a knife at someone's face
  • pointing a gun at someone
  • holding a fist up at someone's face while carrying a pistol
  • throwing a lead pipe or other heavy object at someone's direction

Penalties

Assault with a deadly weapon is a category B felony in Nevada carrying:

Defenses

It may be possible to fight Nevada "assault with a deadly weapon" charges by claiming one or more of the following defenses:

  • Lack of intent
  • Lack of reasonable apprehension
  • acting in accordance with Nevada self-defense law
  • Consent
  • No deadly weapon

In this article our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers answer frequently-asked-questions about the Nevada crime of assault with a deadly weapon. Scroll down for more information or click on a topic below to go directly to that section. 

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"Assault with a deadly weapon" is a felony in Nevada.

1. Legal Definition of "Assault with a Deadly Weapon" in Las Vegas, Nevada

The Nevada offense of assault with deadly weapon has two components: 1) assault, and 2) deadly weapon.1

1.1 Definition of "Assault" in Nevada

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 alleged victim reasonable apprehension of being unlawfully touched in the immediate future.

A common example of assault includes deliberately holding up a fist to someone in a way that would make the person think he/she is about to be punched. Even using fighting words like, "I'm gonna break your arm right now" may qualify as assault under certain circumstances.

1.2 Definition of "Deadly Weapon" in Nevada

Like it sounds, deadly weapons comprise the following kinds of devices:

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Deadly weapons in Nevada include not only guns and knives but objects such as bricks that could substantially hurt someone.
  • "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."

Therefore, deadly weapons are not just guns or knives but could also include normally innocuous objects like pipes or bricks that could be used in a deadly way.2

1.3 How "assault of a deadly weapon" works in Nevada

Assault with a deadly weapon in Nevada 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 do not necessarily use or brandish the weapon . . . simply having the weapon on your person or within reach during the assault would qualify as assault with a deadly weapon. North Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Michael Becker gives an example:

Example: Butch suspects Greg is fooling around with his girlfriend. Butch finds Greg in the Hard Rock Hotel and holds his fist up next to his face. Butch is also carrying a hunting knife on his belt. A security guard witnesses this encounter and calls the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, who then arrest Butch and book him at the Clark County Detention Center. Butch faces "assault with a deadly weapon" charges because he put Greg in reasonable anticipation of being battered but holding up his fist and having a knife within reach.

Other 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 are someone like a professional boxer or wearing "brass knuckles."

2. Defenses to "assault with a deadly weapon" charges in Nevada

Depending on the case, there may be various effective strategies a criminal defense attorney could use that could raise a reasonable doubt and preclude a guilty verdict. Typical defenses include:

2.1 Lack of intent as a defense to "assault with a deadly weapon" in Nevada

Assault is an intent crime in Nevada. This means a defendant cannot be convicted if he/she did not 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 the defendant had intent, then the case should be dismissed. Accidents do not count as assaults.

2.2 Lack of reasonable apprehension as a defense to "assault with a deadly weapon" in Nevada

Assault by definition is intentionally acting in such a way that puts someone else in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm. So if the criminal defense attorney can show that the alleged victim's fear was unreasonable or that the bodily harm threatened was not immediate, then the case should be thrown out. Henderson criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse provides an illustration:

Example: Kyle is openly carrying a pistol on his belt when he walks into a Mesquite 7-11 to buy a snack. Another patron sees the pistol and shrieks, fearful that Kyle is about to shoot her. The police come and book Kyle at the Mesquite Jail. However, prosecutors decline to press charges because they believe the patron's fear of being hurt were unreasonable.

In the above example, Kyle was allowed to openly carry the pistol at the 7-11, and nothing he did was suspicious. So even though the patron may have genuinely been scared upon seeing the gun, Kyle committed no crime.

2.3 Self-defense as a defense to "assault with a deadly weapon" in Nevada

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Self-defense may serve as a defense to Nevada charges of "assault with a deadly weapon."

Nevada self defense laws permit a person to defend him/herself against immediate bodily harm as long as he/she does not fight back with any more force than necessary. So if the criminal defense attorney can show that the other person "started it" and that the defendant acted reasonably, then the defendant should not be found guilty.

2.4 Consent as a defense to "assault with a deadly weapon" in Nevada

This defense usually comes into play in the arena of sports where physical contact is just part of the game. If the criminal defense attorney can show that the other person somehow consented to being assaulted, then the assault charges will not stand.

2.5 No deadly weapon as a defense to "assault with a deadly weapon" in Nevada

If the prosecution cannot 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 Nevada misdemeanor).

3. Penalties, punishment, and sentences for "assault with a deadly weapon" in Nevada

Assault with a deadly weapon is a category B felony in Nevada carrying

  • One to six 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.

3.1 Plea bargains for "assault with a deadly weapon" in Nevada

Depending on the case, a criminal defense attorney may be able to persuade the prosecutors to reduce a Nevada assault with a deadly weapon charge down to:

All of these offenses are only misdemeanorss. The standard sentence includes:

  • up to 6 months in jail, and/or

  • up to $1,000 in fines (or equivalent community service time)

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Call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE consultation with a Nevada criminal defense attorney today.

Call us if you have been arrested . . .

If you have been charged with assault or any other crime in Nevada, then call our Las Vegas assault with a deadly weapon 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.


Legal References:

  1. NRS 200.471 Assault: Definitions; penalties.

    As used in this section:

          (a) “Assault” means:

                 (1) Unlawfully attempting to use physical force against another person; or

                 (2) Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm.

          (b) “Officer” means:

                 (1) A person who possesses some or all of the powers of a peace officer;

                 (2) A person employed in a full-time salaried occupation of fire fighting for the benefit or safety of the public;

                 (3) A member of a volunteer fire department;

                 (4) A jailer, guard or other correctional officer of a city or county jail;

                 (5) A justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, district judge, justice of the peace, municipal judge, magistrate, court commissioner, master or referee, including a person acting pro tempore in a capacity listed in this subparagraph; or

                 (6) An employee of the State or a political subdivision of the State whose official duties require the employee to make home visits.

          (c) “Provider of health care” means a physician, a medical student, a perfusionist or a physician assistant licensed pursuant to chapter 630 of NRS, a practitioner of respiratory care, a homeopathic physician, an advanced practitioner of homeopathy, a homeopathic assistant, an osteopathic physician, a physician assistant licensed pursuant to chapter 633 of NRS, a podiatric physician, a podiatry hygienist, a physical therapist, a medical laboratory technician, an optometrist, a chiropractor, a chiropractor's assistant, a doctor of Oriental medicine, a nurse, a student nurse, a certified nursing assistant, a nursing assistant trainee, a medication aide - certified, a dentist, a dental student, a dental hygienist, a dental hygienist student, a pharmacist, a pharmacy student, an intern pharmacist, an attendant on an ambulance or air ambulance, a psychologist, a social worker, a marriage and family therapist, a marriage and family therapist intern, a clinical professional counselor, a clinical professional counselor intern, a licensed dietitian, an emergency medical technician, an advanced emergency medical technician and a paramedic.

          (d) “School employee” means a licensed or unlicensed person employed by a board of trustees of a school district pursuant to NRS 391.100.

          (e) “Sporting event” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 41.630.

          (f) “Sports official” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 41.630.

          (g) “Taxicab” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 706.8816.

          (h) “Taxicab driver” means a person who operates a taxicab.

          (i) “Transit operator” means a person who operates a bus or other vehicle as part of a public mass transportation system.

  2. A person convicted of an assault shall be punished:

          (a) If paragraph (c) or (d) does not apply to the circumstances of the crime and the assault is not made with the use of a deadly weapon or the present ability to use a deadly weapon, for a misdemeanor.

          (b) If the assault is made with the use of a deadly weapon or the present ability to use a deadly weapon, for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.

          (c) If paragraph (d) does not apply to the circumstances of the crime and if the assault is committed upon an officer, a provider of health care, a school employee, a taxicab driver or a transit operator who is performing his or her duty or upon a sports official based on the performance of his or her duties at a sporting event and the person charged knew or should have known that the victim was an officer, a provider of health care, a school employee, a taxicab driver, a transit operator or a sports official, for a gross misdemeanor, unless the assault is made with the use of a deadly weapon or the present ability to use a deadly weapon, then for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.

          (d) If the assault is committed upon an officer, a provider of health care, a school employee, a taxicab driver or a transit operator who is performing his or her duty or upon a sports official based on the performance of his or her duties at a sporting event by a probationer, a prisoner who is in lawful custody or confinement or a parolee, and the probationer, prisoner or parolee charged knew or should have known that the victim was an officer, a provider of health care, a school employee, a taxicab driver, a transit operator or a sports official, for a category D felony as provided in NRS 193.130, unless the assault is made with the use of a deadly weapon or the present ability to use a deadly weapon, then for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.

  3. NRS 193.165
  4. d

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