NRS 200.481 - Nevada "Battery" Laws

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NRS 200.481 is the Nevada law that prohibits battery, which the statute defines as:

[A]ny willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.

Common examples of battery are punching and kicking but can also include throwing objects at, poisoning, and strangling.

Battery penalties range from small fines to long Nevada State Prison sentences depending on the seriousness of the case:

Nevada battery charge

Penalties under NRS 200.481

The defendant did not use a deadly weapon

If the victim sustained substantial bodily harm in Nevada or was strangled, battery is a category C felony in Nevada:

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

Otherwise, battery is a misdemeanor in Nevada:

  • up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000

The defendant used a deadly weapon

Category B felony in Nevada, carrying at least 2 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $10,000.

If the victim sustained substantial bodily harm or was strangled, the maximum prison sentence is 15 years. Otherwise, it is 10 years.

The victim was working as either an:

  • officer,
  • health care provider,
  • school employee,
  • taxi driver,
  • transit operator, or
  • sports official

And the defendant knew – or should have known – of the victim's job (if the victim was a sports official, the battery must be based on the victim's performance at a sporting event)

If the victim sustained substantial bodily harm or was strangled, battery is a category B felony:

  • 2 – 10 years in prison, and/or
  • up to $10,000

Otherwise, battery is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000

If the defendant was a:

  • prisoner,
  • probationer,
  • parolee, or
  • person in lawful custody

Category B felony:

If the defendant did not use a deadly weapon, the prison term is 1 - 6 years.

If the defendant did use a deadly weapon, the minimum prison term is 2 years. If the defendant sustained substantial bodily harm or was strangled, the maximum term is 15 years. Otherwise, the maximum term is 10 years.

There are entirely separate punishments for the Nevada crime of battery domestic violence (NRS 200.485), which comprises physical conflict between certain family members or romantic (ex)partners.

It may be possible to negotiate down or dismiss battery charge through a Nevada plea bargain. Possible defenses to NRS 200.481 allegations include: 

  • the incident was an accident;
  • the defendant's actions were legal under Nevada self-defense laws; or
  • the defendant was falsely accused

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss the Nevada crime of battery. Click on a topic below to jump to that section:

fist
NRS 200.481 prohibits inflicting unlawful physical force on another.

1. Legal definition of battery in Nevada

NRS 200.481 defines battery as deliberately using unlawful physical force on another person.1 Examples include:

  • punching, slapping, or pinching
  • kicking, pushing, or shoving
  • stabbing, strangling, or shooting
  • spitting on, throwing objects at, or ripping objects (such as clothes) away

Note that a person can commit battery without directly touching the victim. For example, throwing a rock at a car could be considered battery if a person is inside the car. And spiking a person's drink is battery as well because it qualifies as unlawful force on the victim's body.

Also note that intention is a key element of the Nevada crime of battery. As discussed below in section 3, accidental or inadvertent physical touching does not count as battery.

2. Battery penalties in Nevada

The punishment for battery under NRS 200.481 turns on the circumstances of the case. Two key factors are whether the defendant:

  1. used a "deadly weapon"; or
  2. caused the victim to sustain serious "substantial bodily harm";

Courts consider weapons to be deadly if they are "inherently dangerous", such as guns and knives. But a screwdriver for example would not be considered a deadly weapon.2

A victim's injuries qualify as "substantial bodily harm" if they cause prolonged physical pain or a large risk of death or impairment of bodily functions.3 Examples would include gunshot or stab wounds as well as concussions.

Note that defendants face prosecution for the separate Nevada offense of battery with intent to commit a crime (NRS 200.400) if they committed battery for the purpose of carrying out either the:

  1. Nevada crime of mayhem (NRS 200.280),
  2. Nevada crime of robbery (NRS 200.380),
  3. Nevada crime of grand larceny (NRS 205.220),
  4. Nevada crime of sexual assault (NRS 200.366), or
  5. Nevada crime of killing a person (NRS 200.300)

Committing battery with the intent to commit either of the above five offenses is always a Nevada felony, even if no deadly weapon was involved or the victim sustained no serious injuries.

2.1. Battery without a deadly weapon

Simple battery is battery that does not involve strangulation or cause serious injuries. Simple battery is generally a misdemeanor under NRS 200.481. The sentence is:

fight
Battery is generally only a misdemeanor in Nevada as long as no deadly weapon was used and no one sustained substantial bodily harm or strangulation.
  • up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines

Meanwhile, battery that does involve strangulation or cause substantial bodily harm 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)

Finally, battery is always a category B felony if the defendant is an inmate, probationer or parolee. The punishment carries one to six (1 - 6) years in prison.

2.1.1. The victim is a member of a protected class

A victim is considered a member of a "protected class" if he/she was on duty at the time of the battery as either a(n):

  • officer (such as a law enforcement officer),
  • health care provider (such as a doctor),
  • school employee (such as a teacher),
  • taxi driver (the law is unclear whether this includes ride-sharing drivers),
  • transit operators (such as public bus or monorail drivers), or
  • sports officials (such as umpires)

If the victim was a member of a "protected class," battery with no strangulation or serious injuries becomes a gross misdemeanor, carrying:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

Meanwhile, battery that does involve strangulation or serious bodily harm becomes a category B felony, carrying:

  • two to ten (2 - 10) years in prison, and/or
  • up to $10,000 in fines

Note that victims are considered members of a protected class only if the defendant knew – or should have known – of the victim's job. If the victim was a sports official, the battery must be based on the victim's performance at a sporting event.

Also see our related article on the Nevada crime of battery on a peace officer.

2.2 Battery with a deadly weapon

Battery with a deadly weapon under NRS 200.481 is always a category B felony carrying at least two (2) years in prison and possibly a $10,000 fine. (However, judges do not impose this fine on defendants who were in custody, on parole or on probation at the time of the alleged battery.)

If there was no strangulation or substantial bodily harm, the maximum prison term is ten (10) years. If the defendant did use strangulation or cause substantial bodily harm, the maximum prison term is fifteen (15) years.4

3. Fighting Nevada battery charges

fight
People can fight back in self-defense in Nevada if they use proportional force to deflect the threat.

Each case has unique facts which dictate which defense strategies would be most successful. Three common defenses to NRS 200.481 allegations include:

  1. Accident
  2. Self-defense
  3. False accusations

Note that "consent" can be a battery defense in some circumstances. For instances, willing participants in a lawful boxing match commit no crime by punching each other.

3.1. Accident

NRS 200.481 is meant to punish people for only intentional acts of physical force or violence. Inadvertent accidents are not crimes, even if they cause an injury.5

Example: Jim is at a pool party at night. Jim jumps off the diving board and falls on Sam, who was swimming underwater by the diving board. This causes Sam to sustain a painful bruise. Angry, Sam calls the police and claims Jim battered him by jumping on him. But Jim should not get arrested because when jumped off the diving board, Jim had no idea Sam would be underneath him in the water.

Note that Sam in the above example might be able to sue Jim in civil court for negligence. But Jim should not face criminal charges since he had no intention of inflicting unlawful physical force on Sam.

3.2. Self-defense

It is perfectly legal in Nevada to defense oneself or others against unlawful physical force as long as the defendant uses no more force than reasonably necessary.

For instance if a person throws a rock at another person, the victim could probably lawfully defend himself by throwing a rock back. This is because throwing a rock back is a measured response to the situation.

But if a person throws a rock and the victim shoots the rock thrower, the victim probably would not be able to claim self-defense. This is because shooting is a gun is not proportional force to merely throwing a rock.

3.3. False accusations

stamp
People who make false allegations sometimes self-inflict their own injuries.

It is not uncommon for people to falsely accuse other people of battery out of anger, revenge, or a misunderstanding. In some cases, self-proclaimed victims will self-inflict their own wounds to embellish their claims.

In these cases, defense attorneys would investigate the accuser in search of evidence that suggests he/she is unreliable or has a motive to lie. There are also medical expert witnesses who are skilled at identifying wounds that were self-inflicted.

As long as the prosecutor fails to show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the criminal case should be dropped.

4. Deportation for battery in Nevada

Non-U.S. citizens convicted of any violent crime are vulnerable to deportation. Felony battery convictions are more likely to trigger removal proceedings than misdemeanor convictions, but legal status in the U.S. is never a sure thing.6

Therefore, immigrants charged with a crime should always seek legal counsel to try to ensure that they can stay in the U.S. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

5. Sealing Nevada criminal records for battery

People convicted of battery under NRS 200.481 should be eligible for a record seal after a predetermined wait time. The length of this waiting period depends what category of crime the defendant was convicted of:

Nevada battery conviction

Record seal wait time

Misdemeanor

2 years after the case closes

Gross misdemeanor

2 years after the case closes

Category C felony

10 years after the case closes

Category B felony

10 years after the case closes

Ordinarily for record seals, misdemeanors carry only a one-year wait time, and felonies carry only a five-year wait time. But since battery is considered a "crime of violence," Nevada law doubles the waiting period.7

Note that defendants whose battery charges get completely dismissed are eligible to seal their arrest record right away.8 Learn more about how to seal criminal records in Nevada.

6. Related offenses

sign
Assault is like an attempted battery in Nevada.

6.1. Assault

The Nevada crime of assault (NRS 200.471) is putting another person in immediate apprehension of physical harm. An example is holding a first at someone's face and threatening to punch.

Like battery, assault can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the seriousness of the case.

6.2. Mayhem

Mayhem under NRS 200.280 is a serious kind of battery where the defendant allegedly maims another person. Examples include cutting off a limb or taking out an eye. 

Mayhem is a category B felony, carrying:

  • two to ten (2 - 10) years in prison, and
  • up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

6.3. Hazing

The Nevada crime of hazing (NRS 200.605) is imposing physical brutality on an initiating or current member of either a high school or college club. Sports teams and Greek organizations such as fraternities and sororities are notorious for hazing rituals that involve alcohol.

If the hazing causes no substantial bodily harm, it is a misdemeanor. The sentence is:

  • up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines

Otherwise, hazing is a gross misdemeanor. The sentence is:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines
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Arrested for battery in Nevada? Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE consultation. We can usually negotiate a charge reduction or dismissal with no trial.

Arrested in California? See our article on California battery laws | Penal Code 242 PC.

Arrested in Colorado? See our article on Colorado battery laws | C.R.S. 18-3-206.


Legal References

  1. NRS 200.481  Battery: Definitions; penalties.

          1.  As used in this section:

          (a) “Battery” means any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.

          (b) “Child” means a person less than 18 years of age.

          (c) “Fire-fighting agency” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 239B.020.

          (d) “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, matron or other correctional officer of a city or county jail or detention facility;

                 (5) A prosecuting attorney of an agency or political subdivision of the United States or of this State;

                 (6) 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, without limitation, a person acting pro tempore in a capacity listed in this subparagraph;

                 (7) An employee of this State or a political subdivision of this State whose official duties require the employee to make home visits;

                 (8) A civilian employee or a volunteer of a law enforcement agency whose official duties require the employee or volunteer to:

                       (I) Interact with the public;

                       (II) Perform tasks related to law enforcement; and

                       (III) Wear identification, clothing or a uniform that identifies the employee or volunteer as working or volunteering for the law enforcement agency;

                 (9) A civilian employee or a volunteer of a fire-fighting agency whose official duties require the employee or volunteer to:

                       (I) Interact with the public;

                       (II) Perform tasks related to fire fighting or fire prevention; and

                       (III) Wear identification, clothing or a uniform that identifies the employee or volunteer as working or volunteering for the fire-fighting agency; or

                 (10) A civilian employee or volunteer of this State or a political subdivision of this State whose official duties require the employee or volunteer to:

                       (I) Interact with the public;

                       (II) Perform tasks related to code enforcement; and

                       (III) Wear identification, clothing or a uniform that identifies the employee or volunteer as working or volunteering for this State or a political subdivision of this State.

          (e) “Provider of health care” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 200.471.

          (f) “School employee” means a licensed or unlicensed person employed by a board of trustees of a school district pursuant to NRS 391.100 or 391.281.

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

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

          (i) “Strangulation” means 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.

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

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

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

          2.  Except as otherwise provided in NRS 200.485, a person convicted of a battery, other than a battery committed by an adult upon a child which constitutes child abuse, shall be punished:

          (a) If the battery is not committed with a deadly weapon, and no substantial bodily harm to the victim results, except under circumstances where a greater penalty is provided in this section or NRS 197.090, for a misdemeanor.

          (b) If the battery is not committed with a deadly weapon, and either substantial bodily harm to the victim results or the battery is committed by strangulation, for a category C felony as provided in NRS 193.130.

          (c) If:

                 (1) The battery is committed upon an officer, provider of health care, school employee, taxicab driver or transit operator who was performing his or her duty or upon a sports official based on the performance of his or her duties at a sporting event;

                 (2) The officer, provider of health care, school employee, taxicab driver, transit operator or sports official suffers substantial bodily harm or the battery is committed by strangulation; and

                 (3) The person charged knew or should have known that the victim was an officer, provider of health care, school employee, taxicab driver, transit operator or sports official,

    --> for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 10 years, or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.

          (d) If the battery is committed upon an officer, provider of health care, school employee, taxicab driver or 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, provider of health care, school employee, taxicab driver, transit operator or sports official, for a gross misdemeanor, except under circumstances where a greater penalty is provided in this section.

          (e) If the battery is committed with the use of a deadly weapon, and:

                 (1) No substantial bodily harm to the victim results, for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 10 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000.

                 (2) Substantial bodily harm to the victim results or the battery is committed by strangulation, for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 15 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000.

          (f) If the battery is committed by a probationer, a prisoner who is in lawful custody or confinement or a parolee, without the use of a deadly weapon, whether or not substantial bodily harm results and whether or not the battery is committed by strangulation, 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.

          (g) If the battery is committed by a probationer, a prisoner who is in lawful custody or confinement or a parolee, with the use of a deadly weapon, and:

                 (1) No substantial bodily harm to the victim results, for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 10 years.

                 (2) Substantial bodily harm to the victim results or the battery is committed by strangulation, for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 15 years.

    Nevada Assembly Bill 60 (2019) 
    1. Whether or not a warrant has been issued, a peace officer may arrest a person when the peace officer has probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has, within the preceding 24 hours, committed a battery upon:
    (a) A person with whom he or she is actually residing;
    (b) A sibling, if the person is not the custodian or guardian of the sibling; or
    (c) A cousin, if the person is not the custodian or guardian of the cousin.
    2. Nothing in this section shall be construed to impose liability upon a peace officer or his or her employer for a determination made in good faith by the peace officer not to arrest a person pursuant to this section
  2. See Rodriguez v. State, 407 P.3d 771, 133 Nev. Adv. Rep. 110 (December 28, 2017)(Lexis: Since the Supreme Court of Nevada has consistently defined "deadly weapon" according to both the functional and the inherently dangerous definitions, the district court had discretion to determine which definition of "deadly weapon" was appropriate given the facts of the case.).
  3. NRS 0.060; Andrason v. Sheriff, Washoe County, 88 Nev. 589, 503 P.2d 15 (1972).(Lexis: Evidence that the victim, a middle-aged female, was kicked in the groin and lost consciousness as the result of the pain therefrom, that the area turned black and blue, was swollen, and a lump developed, that four months after the incident her legs still bothered her after standing any length of time, and that she was treated by two doctors for her injury supported a reasonable inference that the victim sustained a “serious physical injury” within the meaning of this section as it formerly read.).
  4. NRS 200.481; Washoe County Sheriff v. Zimmerman, 99 Nev. 480, 663 P.2d 1194 (1983)(Lexis: Subdivision 2(c) of this section, providing an enhanced penalty for committing a battery upon an officer, is for the protection of peace officers; this objective justifies interpreting the “performance of his duty” provision in subdivision 2(c)(1) of this section broadly. This interpretation is particularly appropriate with regard to policemen charged with preventing crime and apprehending violators.).
  5. McDonald v. Sheriff of Carson City, 89 Nev. 326, 512 P.2d 774 (1973)(Lexis: A battery charge could not withstand a pretrial habeas challenge where the record reflected that the alleged injury was accidentally inflicted.).
  6. See, e.g., Matter of Short, 20 I. & N. Dec. 136 (BIA 1989); United States v. Belless, 338 F.3d 1063 (9th Cir. Aug. 11, 2003); 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9); INA § 101(a)(43)(F), 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(F); INA § 237(a)(2)(E)(i), 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(E)(i); INA § 101(a)(43)(A), 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(A).
  7. NRS 179.245.
  8. NRS 179.255.

 

 

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