Domestic Violence by Strangulation in Nevada

Domestic violence by strangulation in Nevada occurs when a person chokes a current or former dating partner, spouse, child, or relative (not including siblings or cousins).

Even if the strangling spanned only a moment and caused no lasting harm, prosecutors treat battery domestic violence (BDV) with strangulation as a category C felony in Nevada. The penalties include:

  • one to five (1 – 5) years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

However, the charges could possibly be reduced or dismissed through a Nevada plea bargain. Common defenses include:

  1. The defendant was acting in accordance with Nevada self-defense laws;
  2. The alleged victim falsely accused the defendant (and possibly self-inflicted his or her wounds);
  3. The incident was an accident, and the defendant was not intentionally strangling the victim; and/or
  4. The defendant battered the victim but did not strangle the victim (this defense might get the charge reduced to a Nevada misdemeanor, but it would not get the charge dismissed)

A conviction for DV by strangling remains on the defendant's criminal record for at least ten (10) years before he or she can pursue a Nevada record seal. And since BDV by strangling is a deportable offense in Nevada, non-citizens who get convicted of it risk being thrown out of the U.S.A.

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss strangling as a form of battery domestic violence in Nevada (NRS 200.485). Scroll down or click on a topic below to learn more:

Man holding woman's neck
Strangling is a felony in Nevada, even if it leaves no bruises.

1. Nevada definition of domestic violence (BDV) by strangulation

The Nevada crime of domestic violence by strangulation occurs when a person ("defendant") chokes his or her:

  • spouse or domestic partner (current or separated);
  • co-parent;
  • significant other (current or separated);
  • minor children of any of the above people;
  • relative by blood or marriage (with the exception of cousins or siblings unless they are in a guardianship or custodial arrangement with the defendant); or
  • a person the defendant is a guardian of

Nevada's legal definition of strangulation is "intentionally impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person in a manner that creates a risk of death or substantial bodily harm."

The choking does not need to last for more than a second to qualify as strangling. Just a brief wringing of one's neck counts as strangling even if the victim suffers no injuries.1

2. Penalties for domestic violence by strangulation in Nevada

DV with strangulation is a category C felony, carrying:

  • one to five (1 – 5) years in prison, and
  • up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

If the defendant also used a deadly weapon, BDV with strangulation is a category B felony in Nevada. The punishment carries:

woman strangling man
Strangling is legal if it is done in lawful self-defense in Nevada.
  • two to fifteen (2 – 15) years in prison, and
  • up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

However, it may be possible to persuade the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss the charges.2

3. Defenses to Nevada charges of domestic violence by strangulation

The best defense strategies turn on each case's unique circumstances. Some common defenses to charges of DV by strangling are:

  1. The alleged victim attacked the defendant, and the defendant reasonably defended him/herself by strangling the alleged victim.
  2. The alleged victim falsely accused the defendant, perhaps out of jealousy, anger, or revenge. 
  3. The incident was an accident, and the defendant's actions were not intentional. An example would be if the defendant accidentally tripped on the victim, or the defendant was sleeping and acting out a nightmare.
  4. Any battery that occurred was minor and did not include strangling. If successful, this defense could cause the felony charge to be reduced to a misdemeanor.

As evidence, the defendant's attorney may hire a medical expert knowledgeable about the marks that strangling leaves on the skin. Such an expert may be able to distinguish between genuine strangling bruises and those that are self-imposed by lying "victims."

In any case, the prosecution has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In cases with no physical evidence and just "he said/she said" testimony, it may be difficult for the state to meet this burden of proof.

4. Immigration consequences for strangulation

DV by strangulation is a deportable offense. Therefore, non-citizens who are convicted of it face being thrown out of the country.3

That is why it is important for immigrants to retain experienced attorneys as soon as they learn of the charges. The attorneys may be able to fight the case and to get the charges dropped or at lessened to a non-deportable offense. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

5. Sealing criminal records for domestic violence by strangulation in Nevada

A conviction for DV with strangulation may be sealed from the defendant's record no sooner than ten (10) years after the case ends. Note that if the case got dismissed, then there is no waiting period to petition for a record seal.4

The process of getting a record seal takes several weeks from beginning to end, and it involves a lot of paperwork and several steps. It is recommended that people retain experienced counsel to handle the process for them.

6. Strangulation penalties in non-domestic situations in Nevada

The sentence for committing the Nevada crime of battery (NRS 200.481) by strangulation is largely the same whether or not the victim is in a domestic relationship with the defendant:

"Battery by strangulation" charge

Penalties under NRS 200.481

Defendant did not use a deadly weapon

Category C felony:

  • 1 – 5 years in prison, and
  • up to $10,000 (at the judge's discretion)

If the defendant was in custody, in prison, on parole, or on probation, then battery is a category B felony, carrying 1 to 6 years in prison.

Defendant used a deadly weapon

Category B felony:

  • 2 – 15 years in prison, and
  • up to $10,000 (at the judge's discretion)

There is no fine if the defendant was in custody, in prison, on parole, or on probation

The victim was on duty as a police officer or other "protected class"

(Also see our article about the Nevada crime of battery on a peace officer)

Category B felony:

  • 2 – 10 years in prison, and
  • up to $10,000 (at the judge's discretion).5

receptionists
Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-333-3673 for a FREE consultation.

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Accused of a criminal offense in Nevada? We may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed. For a free consultation with our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys, call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).


Legal References

  1. NRS 200.485; NRS 200.481; NRS 33.018; Nevada Assembly Bill 60 (2019); LaChance v. State, 321 P.3d 919, 130 Nev. Adv. Rep. 29 (2014)("In reviewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, we conclude that a rational trier of fact could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that LaChance strangled Lane. The State presented evidence that LaChance placed his knee on Lane's chest and his hands on her clavicle/lower part of her neck and then put pressure on the area, impeding her breathing to the point that her vision was impaired. Depriving Lane of oxygen to the point where she lost vision supports a finding that LaChance applied pressure to Lane's throat or neck in a manner that created a risk of death or substantial bodily harm. Accordingly, we affirm the conviction for domestic battery by strangulation.").
  2. NRS 200.485.
  3. INA § 237(a)(2)(E).
  4. NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.
  5. NRS 200.481.

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