Nevada "Battery Domestic Violence" Defenses (NRS 200.485)
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

There are several ways to fight charges of battery domestic violence (abbreviated "BDV").  The most effective methods under Nevada domestic violence law are that the defendant acted in self-defense, that the incident was an accident, or that the "victim" hurled false accusations.

Scroll down to learn more about these defenses to the Nevada crime of domestic violence. Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys also discuss "Battered Person Syndrome" as well as accusers who self-inflict injuries in order to frame others for BDV.

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Self-defense

Courts handle many BDV cases where the purported victim assaulted the defendant first. Under Nevada self-defense law, people may lawfully fight back if they reasonably believe it's necessary to avoid immediate bodily harm or death to themselves or someone else.1

Self-defense works as an effective defense as long as the defendant acts quickly and uses no more physical force than necessary to protect him/herself. Las Vegas domestic violence attorney Michael Becker provides an example where self-defense could backfire:

During a verbal altercation in Reno, Jack spits on his wife Laney. Laney then grabs a butcher knife and throws it at him.  If caught, Laney would be booked at the Washoe County Detention Center for battery constituting domestic violence in Nevada. Laney claims self-defense at trial but the jury doesn't buy her defense.

Jack in the above example technically battered Laney first by spitting. However Laney's potentially fatal reaction of throwing a knife was excessive self-defense and unnecessary to protect her welfare or life.  Had Jack punched or strangled Laney, throwing the knife would probably have been valid self-defense.

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Battered person's syndrome is a condition that drives domestic abuse victims to hurt or kill their abusers.  This syndrome functions as a kind of self-defense, but there's one main difference:  A defendant with battered person syndrome needn't fight back right away in order to claim lawful self-defense-he/she can fight back later when there's no immediate threat of harm…2

Usually sufferers of battered person syndrome don't feel safe enough to flee from their abusers. And since their abusers may be stronger than them, these victims often strike when their abusers are asleep or otherwise vulnerable.  Note that battered person syndrome applies to only a narrow variety of battery domestic violence or homicide cases.

Accident

Nevada domestic violence law only punishes intentional uses of illegal physical force on a significant other, relative or housemate. Therefore people who batter someone by accident are not criminally liable.  Henderson battery domestic violence lawyer Mike Becker illustrates such a scenario:

Henderson husband and wife Bob and Barbara quarrel and go to bed angry. Barbara decides to try to smooth things over and leans over to kiss Bob. Not knowing that Barbara is leaning over, Bob yawns, causing his right fist to strike Barbara in the eye. Barbara calls 911, and Bob is booked at the Henderson Detention Center for BDV.
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In the above example, Barbara's black eye was an unfortunate, unforeseeable accident. The bedroom lights were off, and he and his wife had just been arguing, so Bob had no idea she was leaning over to kiss him. As long as the prosecutor can't show beyond a reasonable doubt that Bob intentionally hurt Barbara, the charge should be dismissed.

Similarly, the accuser in the case State of NV v. Jairo G. fell down in an accident that had nothing to do with the fight she was just having with her husband. Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Michael Becker persuaded the prosecutor to reduce the battery domestic violence charge to the minor Nevada offense of disturbing the peace. The case was closed without a trial.

False Allegations & Self-inflicted Injuries
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Many battery domestic violence cases in Las Vegas and throughout the state stem from lies. Angry relatives or vengeful dating partners may try to get the other into trouble by claiming that they were abused. Some people even go so far as to self-inflict wounds to back up their stories.

However a thorough case investigation can often uncover when the accuser is lying and fabricating evidence. Also, expert witnesses can frequently distinguish between genuine injuries and self-inflicted ones.  If the prosecution's evidence is too weak, holey or inadequate to support a guilty verdict beyond a reasonable doubt, the BDV charges may be dropped in Nevada.

Charged with battery domestic violence? Call an attorney…
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If you've been arrested for the "Nevada offense of domestic violence," call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free meeting to discuss how we can fight the case.  We may be able to get the charges dismissed or reduced, or else we'll fight for your innocence at trial.

We represent clients throughout Nevada, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Washoe County, Clark County, Reno, Carson City, Laughlin, Mesquite, Bunkerville, Moapa, Elko, Pahrump, Searchlight, Beatty, and Tonopah.


1Runion v. State, 116 Nev. 1041, 1046, 13 P.3d 52, 55 - 56 (2000) ("At common law, an individual had a right to defend himself against apparent danger to the same extent as if the danger had been real, provided he acted upon a reasonable apprehension of danger.").

2See Inb-Tamas v. U.S., 407 A.2d 626 (D.C. 1979); Rothenberg, Bess, "'We Don't Have Time for Social Change' Cultural Compromise and the Battered Woman Syndrome," Gender and Society, Oct. 2003:771-87.

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