How do Las Vegas domestic violence lawyers fight the charges?
The first step that Nevada criminal defense attorneys take when fighting battery domestic violence (BDV) charges is to conduct an independent investigation. Prosecutors typically base criminal charges on a one-sided police report that is full of inaccuracies, but there is always much more to the story.
Common evidence that defense attorneys search for in domestic violence cases include:
- Video surveillance footage of the incident;
- Eyewitness accounts of the incident;
- Medical records of the alleged victim; and/or
- Recorded communications from the accuser, such as text messages and voicemails
Then depending on what the investigation turns up, the defendant’s attorneys will formulate a defense. Common ones include:
- Self-defense. The accuser attacked the defendant first, and the defendant retaliated in reasonable and proportional self-defense.
- Accident. Any touching that occurred was purely accidental, and the defendant had no criminal intent to use unlawful physical force on the “victim.”
- False accusations. It is not uncommon for people in the midst of an argument to call law enforcement and falsely accuse their significant other of hitting them. Sometimes accusers will even apply for a restraining order and self-inflict their own wounds to back up their story. Often this is done out of anger, while intoxicated, or to try to get a leg up in a child custody case.
Finally, the defense attorney will meet with the prosecutors to discuss the criminal case. If the defense attorney can raise a reasonable doubt in the prosecutors’ minds, the state may agree to lessen or drop the case.
Can the charge be dismissed?
Possibly, but not immediately. Nevada law forbids district attorneys from lessening or dropping battery domestic violence charges unless they can show the judge that the case “is not supported by probable cause or cannot be proved at the time of trial.” In short, prosecutors in BDV cases are not allowed to “wheel and deal” by immediately offering a reduced charge in exchange for avoiding trial.
Even if the “victim” recants and claims that the defendant did nothing wrong, the D.A. still will not drop the charges – at least not right away. Prosecutors assume that victims recant because they are being pressured to by others, not because their original accusation was untrue.
Therefore, the defense attorney’s job is to show prosecutors how their evidence is too weak to sustain a conviction. Only then are prosecutors permitted to consider a charge reduction or dismissal.
If the state refuses to lessen or drop the charge, the defense attorney will discuss with the defendant the option of having a jury trial. If the defendant wins at trial, the charge will be dismissed entirely. But if the jury delivers a guilty verdict, the defendant will almost certainly face incarceration.
Defendants who plead guilty or no contest to a first offense misdemeanor BDV can usually avoid jail time only if they complete the following sentencing terms:
- Pay $200 to $1,000 in fines (the minimum fine is $300 with court costs);
- Perform 48 to 120 hours of community service;
- Attend domestic violence counseling for at least 1 ½ hours per week for at least 6 months (26 weeks);
- Avoid further arrests; and
- Abide by a protective order (if applicable)
Why should I hire a lawyer?
The consequences of a battery domestic violence conviction in Nevada are very serious. Even a misdemeanor BDV conviction deprives defendants of their gun rights and leaves them with a criminal record that may ruin future employment prospects.
Having an experienced domestic violence attorney fight the case gives defendants the best chance of getting the charge reduced or dismissed. Public defenders are too busy to give each BDV case the thorough investigation it requires to reveal the holes in the state’s evidence. And in practice, prosecutors are much more likely to consider a favorable plea bargain when a defendant is represented by private counsel.
Have you, a family member or a loved one been accused of domestic abuse in Nevada? Las Vegas Defense Group is on your side and will fight to get the criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Our Nevada criminal defense lawyers represent clients throughout the state, including Henderson, North Las Vegas, Boulder City, Clark County, and Reno as well as Las Vegas, NV. We can meet with you over the phone or in one of our criminal justice law offices. Our Las Vegas domestic violence attorneys can also represent you in your family law case.