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What is the penalty for a first offense of domestic battery in Nevada?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jan 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

A first-time offense of battery domestic violence in Nevada under NRS 200.485 is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor, carrying:

  • two (2) days to six (6) months in jail;
  • $200 to $1,000 in fines (as well as a $35 administrative assessment fee);
  • 48 to 120 hours of community service;
  • domestic violence counseling for at least 1.5 hours for six (6) to twelve (12) months at the defendant's expense; and
  • an order to pick up no new criminal arrests or citations other than minor traffic tickets while the battery domestic violence case is open

Note that a first-time offense of battery domestic violence will be prosecuted as a felony in Nevada if either:

  • the defendant strangled the victim,
  • the defendant used a deadly weapon,
  • the victim sustained substantial bodily harm, or
  • the defendant had at least two prior domestic battery convictions within the last seven (7) years

Getting a "battery domestic violence" charge reduced or dismissed in Nevada

Oddly, it is often more difficult in Nevada to get a domestic battery charge lessened or dropped than it is to get a murder charge reduced to manslaughter. The reason is that there is a specific law on the books that forbids prosecutors from agreeing to a domestic battery charge reduction or dismissal if they have sufficient evidence to support a conviction at trial. In other words, prosecutors may not plead down domestic battery charges if they believe they could get a guilty verdict.

Consequently, Nevada criminal defense attorneys have to work extra hard when representing clients faced with battery domestic violence charges. Defense attorneys need to comb through every aspect of the case in search of:

  • any evidence that is favorable to the defendant that may suggest he/she could be innocent;
  • any weak links in the state's evidence that cast doubt on the defendant's guilt; and/or
  • police misconduct such as coerced confessions or illegal searches, which could then result in any "tainted" evidence being thrown out

If the criminal defense attorney is successful, he/she may be able to persuade the prosecutor either to dismiss the charges or else lessen it to a more minor misdemeanor. Examples include simple battery or breach of peace.

Even though a first-time conviction of battery domestic violence is only a misdemeanor, it looks terrible on the defendant's criminal records. Potential employers may pass over otherwise qualified job candidates for it. Potential landlords may reject otherwise qualified tenants for it. And it may cost workers their professional licenses, such as medical licenses and bar cards. Therefore, anyone facing battery domestic violence allegations is advised to hire legal counsel to try to get the charges reduced or dismissed.

Learn about sealing Nevada battery domestic violence cases.

Defenses to "battery domestic violence" charges in Nevada

There are several possible ways to fight battery domestic violence charges in Nevada. As always, the best strategies depend on the specific facts of the case. Typical arguments are the following:

  1. The defendant acted in accordance with Nevada self-defense laws. Under Nevada law, it is perfectly legal to fight back with proportionate physical force.
  2. The defendant was falsely accused. In Nevada, it is not uncommon for angry spouses, children, or exes to falsely accuse their spouses, parents, or exes, respectively, of hitting them. Often they are fueled by rage and revenge. Sometimes alleged victims even self-inflict wounds to back up their false story.
  3. The incident was an accident. Battery domestic violence requires that the defendant acted intentionally. A purely accidental incident that results in someone getting touched is not criminal.

Common evidence in these types of cases include eyewitnesses, video recordings, communications (such as text messages), and expert medical testimony.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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