Updated July 1, 2020
According to NRS 200.400, the crime of battery carries harsher punishments in Nevada if the defendant also intended to commit further crimes such as theft, rape, or homicide. Penalties carry high fines and potentially decades in prison. But an adept Nevada criminal defense attorney may be able to get the charges lessened to simple battery or even a full dismissal.
This article explains the Nevada offense of battery with intent to commit a crime. Continue reading to learn what this offense constitutes, how to defend against charges, and what penalties the judge may impose.
Definition of battery with intent to commit a crime in Nevada
The Nevada crime of battery (NRS 200.481) is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon another’s person. Examples include hitting, burning, spitting on, and even poisoning. Therefore, the Nevada crime of “battery with intent to commit a crime” is when the defendant commits battery with the objective to then carry out any of the following offenses:
- the Nevada crime of mayhem, which means maiming or disfiguring the victim.
- the Nevada crime of robbery, which means to forcibly steal from another’s person or in his/her presence.
- the Nevada crime of grand larceny, which is stealing another’s property valued at $1,200 or more.
- the Nevada crime of sexual assault, which is the legal term for rape.
- the Nevada crime of killing a person.
Battery with intent to commit a crime is a complicated offense because it centers around the defendant’s mental state — namely, whether or not the defendant intended to commit a crime at the time of the battery. Mental state is a difficult thing for attorneys to prove because it is so subjective. Moapa criminal defense attorney Michael Becker explains with an example:
Jamie and John get into an argument at John’s Henderson house. Angry that John will not lend him his power tools, Jamie takes John’s electric screwdriver and hits John with it. John’s roommate witnesses the incident and calls the Henderson Police, who then book Jamie at the Henderson Detention Center for battery with intent to rob John’s power tools.
Jamie in the above example never intended to steal the power tools after striking John. However, the prosecution would argue that the court can infer that Jamie did intend to steal the power tools because he said he wanted them and physically picks up one of them. If the court finds the prosecution convincing, Jamie may be convicted of battery with intent to rob.
Battery with intent to kill versus Attempted murder
Battery with intent to kill is different from the Nevada crime of attempted murder. Attempted murder occurs when the defendant premeditated killing the victim. In contrast, a person may be convicted of battery with intent to kill even if he/she had no premeditation to kill. This concept is confusing, so Goodsprings criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse illustrates this distinction:
Jack comes home to his Las Vegas house and finds his wife in bed with another man. Enraged, Jack immediately hits the man on his head with his heavy briefcase, causing him to pass out from a brain hemorrhage. The wife calls the Las Vegas police, who book Jack at the Clark County Detention Center for attempted murder.
Jack in the above example probably never premeditated killing the man because there was no time to: The instant Jack beheld the adulterous scene, he instinctively tried to batter the man to death. Had Jack waited a moment to premeditate his desire to kill the man and then beat him, Jack may then be liable for attempted murder.
Note that there is no way for the court to know for sure what Jack was thinking when. It is up to the defense and prosecution to spin the facts in their favor, and the court determines which side is more convincing.
Defenses for battery to commit a crime in Nevada
Many defenses that are used to fight charges of simple battery in Nevada may also be effective in fighting charges for battery with intent to commit a crime. Among these defense strategies are the following:
- Self-defense. It is legal to hurt or kill someone in self-defense in Nevada if the defendant reasonably believes that person will cause him/her immediate substantial bodily harm or death. Therefore if the defense attorney can show the court that the defendant was justified in committing battery against the victim, the charges should be dropped.
- Insanity. The insanity defense in Nevada is a powerful but very narrow defense strategy. Pleading insanity relieves defendants of criminal liability for battery with intent to commit a crime only if the defense attorney can prove all of the following:
- the defendant suffered from a disease or defect of the mind while he committed battery with intent to commit a crime, AND
- the defendant’s delusion prevented him/her from understanding the nature of his/her actions or appreciating the criminality of his/her conduct, AND
- the defendant’s delusion — if true — justifies the defendant committing battery with intent to commit a crime.
- Insufficient Evidence. The prosecutor in every criminal case has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. So if the defense attorney can show the court that the state’s evidence falls short of meeting this burden, the defendant should be acquitted.
Another defense is that the defendant never intended to commit a crime beyond battery. If the court buys this argument, the defendant may then still be liable for the underlying battery. However, the defendant may be satisfied with this resolution because simple battery carries lesser penalties than battery with intent to commit a crime.
Penalties for battery with intent to commit a crime in Nevada
The punishment for the Nevada offense of battery with intent to commit a crime depends on the type of crime:
Battery with intent to commit mayhem, robbery, or grand larceny in Nevada
Battery with the intent to commit mayhem, grand larceny, or robbery is a category B felony in Nevada. The sentence includes:
- two to ten years in Nevada State Prison, and
- maybe fines of up to $10,000
Battery with intent to kill in Nevada
Battery with the intent to kill is a category B felony in Nevada carrying two to twenty years in Nevada State Prison. Note that this is the same punishment that attempted murder carries.
Battery with intent to rape
Battery with the intent to commit sexual assault is a category A felony in Nevada. The length of the prison sentence depends on whether the victim sustains substantial bodily harm in Nevada and if the defendant strangled the victim:
- If the victim does not sustain substantial bodily harm, and the victim is under age sixteen, the judge will impose a sentence of five years to life in Nevada State Prison. If the victim is sixteen or older, the judge will impose a sentence of two years to life in Nevada State Prison.
- If the victim does sustain substantial bodily harm or strangulation, the judge will impose a sentence of life in Nevada State Prison with or without the possibility of parole after ten years.
Note that the judge may also impose a fine of up to $10,000 in cases of battery with intent to commit sexual assault.
Note that rape with intent to rape also carries lifetime supervision under NRS 176.0931. But it may be possible to get off lifetime supervision after 10 years.
Learn more about Nevada sex crimes.
Other battery crimes in Nevada
For information about what punishments courts may impose for battery with no intent to commit a crime, see our article on Nevada battery penalties.
Arrested in California? See our article on California battery laws | Penal Code 242 PC.