Many good people are falsely accused of "battery on a peace officer" in Nevada simply for talking back to a cop, or as a result of an innocent accident. But if you are convicted, you may face serious prison time, high fines, and a sullied criminal record that will hinder your chances of future employment.
Keep reading to learn the law and penalties for the Clark County crime of battery on a police officer as well as how our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys may be able to fight the case.
Nevada battery law makes it a criminal offense to intentionally touch someone else in a violent or unlawful way. Common examples include punching, pushing, burning, stabbing, or biting.
The legal definition of battery on a police officer in Las Vegas, Nevada, is therefore the "willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of an officer." "Officers" comprise the following occupations:
police officers (also called peace officers)
firefighters (including volunteers)
correction officers, including jailers, guards and matrons
judicial officers, such as judges, hearing masters, commissioners, and referees
any state employee whose job includes making home visits
Certainly, it is a crime in Las Vegas to commit battery on anybody whether he/she is a police officer or not. But Nevada law mandates harsher penalties when the alleged victim is a peace officer. This law is intended to underscore their position of authority and to deter violence against them.
Duty and Knowledge
It's important to note that the Nevada offense of battery on a peace officer only applies when the following two conditions are met:
the battery occurs while the officer is in the course of performing his/her duty, and
the person accused of the battery knew, or should have known, that the alleged victim was an officer.
For example, if John punches an off-duty cop, he may be convicted of only battery in Nevada and not battery on a peace officer. Similarly if Joe punches an undercover cop and had no reason to know he was actually a cop, Joe cannot be convicted of battery on a peace officer in Las Vegas.
It's always scary being accused of a violent crime, but a good criminal defense team may be able to gain a successful resolution of your case through thorough investigation of the evidence and aggressive negotiation with the state. The following are just some of the possible defenses that may be used to fight Nevada battery on a police officer charges.
No battery - It is not battery on a peace officer to simply yell at a cop or to run away from them. If your lawyer can show no violence took place, then you may face charges for violating Nevada breach of peace law or even Nevada resisting arrest law but not battery under NRS 200.481.
Accident/ lack of intent - Battery is an intent crime, so you cannot be found guilty of battery on a peace officer in Nevada if the state cannot prove that you deliberately used unlawful physical force against the cop. Accidental touching is not battery.
Lack of knowledge or duty - If the officer was not acting in the course of his duty when the incident happened or if the accused could not reasonably have known that the victim was an officer, then battery against a peace officer charges cannot stand in Nevada.
The punishment a judge may impose upon a conviction for battery on a peace officer in Clark County depends on the circumstances. As long as no substantial bodily harm in Nevada resulted and the battery wasn't by strangulation, then it's just a gross misdemeanor in Nevada carrying a sentence of:
up to $2,000 in fines, and/or
up to 364 days in jail
But if substantial bodily harm did occur or if the battery involved strangulation, then battery on a peace officer in Las Vegas is punished as a category B felony in Nevada carrying:
up to $10,000 in fines, and/or
two to ten years imprisonment (or two to fifteen years if a deadly weapon was used)
If the suspect is on probation, parole or a prisoner, then any battery committed on a peace officer is an automatic felony in Nevada whether or not harm occurs.
In some cases, prosecutors may be amenable to lowering a Nevada "battery on a peace officer charge" to "simple battery," which is only a misdemeanor in Nevada carrying:
up to $1,000 in fines, and/or
up to six months in jail
The advantage of pleading to only a misdemeanor in Nevada is that you may petition to get the criminal record sealed in Las Vegas after only two years from the time the case is closed. Gross misdemeanors and felonies mandate longer waiting periods.
Arrested? Call us now . . . .
If you have been charged with the Nevada crime of battery on a peace officer under NRS 200.481, our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers may be able to negotiate with prosecutors to get your case reduced or even dismissed. Call us today for a free consultation at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) so we can move forward with putting this behind you.
- Read about California Battery on a Peace Officer Law
Learn more in our articles on get the criminal record sealed in Las Legas, misdemeanor in Nevada, gross misdemeanor in Nevada, category B felony in Nevada, Nevada battery law, Nevada breaching the peace law, Nevada resisting arrest law, substantial bodily harm in Nevada.