In Nevada, battery on a peace officer is knowingly using unlawful physical force on police, firefighters, correction officers, judicial officers, or certain state or civilian employees. This crime carries harsher penalties than simple battery (NRS 200.481) if the defendant knows – or should know – the victim is a peace officer, and if the peace officer is on-duty at the time of the attack.
Battery on an officer includes such scenarios in Nevada as:
- kicking a Nevada Highway Patrol officer
- throwing an object at a volunteer fireman
- spitting on a jailer
- punching a bailiff
The punishment for battery on a peace officer in Nevada depends on the severity of the situation. As long as the officer did not sustain substantial bodily harm and was not strangled, the defendant will be charged with a gross misdemeanor. This carries:
- up to 364 days in jail, and/or
- up to $2,000 in fines
Meanwhile, battery on an officer involving major injuries or strangulation is a category B felony, carrying:
- 2 to 10 years in Nevada State Prison, and/or
- up to $10,000 in fines
Note that the felony sentencing range may be as high as fifteen years if the incident involved a deadly weapon.
Common ways to fight Nevada charges for battery on a peace officer charges include:
- The incident did not amount to battery
- The defendant had no intention to hit or unlawfully touch the peace officer
- The peace officer was not on active duty at the time
Sometimes people find themselves falsely accused of battery on a peace officer in Nevada merely for talking back to a police officer. Therefore, evidence such as witnesses and surveillance video become very important to rebut the state’s accusations.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about the Nevada crime of battery on a peace officer or battery on a police officer or battery on an officer. Scroll down to learn more or click on a topic below to go directly to that section.
- 1. How do I get arrested for “battery on a peace officer” in Nevada?
- 2. How do I fight charges of “battery on a peace officer in Nevada?
- 3. Can I go to jail for “battery on a peace officer” in Nevada?
The legal definition of “battery on an officer” in Nevada consists of three elements:
- The defendant commits battery on the victim;
- The victim is a peace officer; and
- The peace officer was on active duty, and the defendant knew (or should have known) this
Each of these elements is discussed below.1
The definition of battery in Nevada is the willful and unlawful use of force or violence on another person. Common examples include punching, pushing, burning, kicking, slapping, stabbing, throwing an object at, poisoning, biting, or pulling an object out of the victim’s hand. Note that the physical touching constitutes battery only if the defendant does it intentionally.
Peace officers comprise anyone holding the following occupations:
- police officers (also called peace officers)
- firefighters (including volunteers)
- correction officers, including jailers, guards, and matrons
- judicial officers, such as judges, hearing masters, commissioners, and referees
- any state employee whose job includes making home visits
- certain civilian employees and volunteers of law enforcement agencies, fire-fighting agencies, this State, and political subdivisions of this State (AB 132 (2017))
Certainly, it is a crime in Nevada to commit battery on anybody whether he/she is a peace officer or not. But Nevada law mandates harsher penalties when the alleged victim is a peace officer. This law is intended to underscore their position of authority and to deter violence against them.
The final element of the Nevada crime of battery on a peace officer is, in turn, two-fold:
- the battery occurs while the officer is in the course of performing his/her duty, and
- the person accused of the battery knew or should have known, that the alleged victim was an officer
Therefore, the defendant’s state of mind is key to determining whether “battery on a peace officer” may have occurred. North Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse gives an example:
Example: John is storming down the Strip angry over losing his job. An active-duty plain-clothes officer yells at him to slow down since the street is crowded with pedestrians. This sets off John, who punches the officer in the nose. The officer then arrests him and books him at the Clark County Detention Center for battery on a peace officer. But since John had no idea the officer was an officer — let alone on active duty — he may be convicted of battery but should not be convicted of battery on a peace officer.
If the officer in the above example was dressed in uniform and John punched him, then he likely would be prosecuted for battery on an officer in Nevada. This is because the uniform would give a reasonable person notice that the officer was an active-duty officer.
Every case is different and lends itself to different defense strategies. The following are just some of the possible ways that a criminal defense attorney could fight Nevada charges of “battery on a police officer.”
It is not battery on a peace officer to simply yell at a police officer or to run away from them. If a defense lawyer can show the prosecutor that no violence took place, then the accused may face charges for committing breach of peace or even resisting arrest but not battery.
Battery is an intent crime, so the accused cannot be found guilty of battery on a peace officer in Nevada if the state cannot prove that he/she deliberately used unlawful physical force against the police officer. Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker provides an illustration:
Example: Douglas is a bystander at a crowded political rally in Laughlin. At one point a fight breaks out, and someone knocks into Douglas who then falls onto an on-duty police officer paroling the area. The police officer immediately arrests Douglas and books him at the Tucker Holding Facility for battery on a peace officer. Fortunately, another bystander had the whole incident on iPhone video. Once the prosecutor saw that Douglas was at no fault for falling on the officer, he dropped the charges.
In short, purely accidental touching is not battery. Unless the prosecutor can prove that Henry should have reasonably known that being in the crowd would likely cause him to fall on the police officer, he should not be liable for a crime.
“Battery against a peace officer” charges cannot stand in Nevada if the officer was not acting in the course of duty when the incident happened or if the accused could not reasonably have known that the victim was an officer. So if the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim was on active-duty and that the defendant knew that, the case should be dismissed or at least reduced to simple battery.
Note that self-defense may also be a defense to “battery on a peace officer” charges in some circumstances.
The specific circumstances of a “battery on a peace officer” case in Nevada dictate the harshness of the punishments:
The typical “battery against a peace officer” case in Nevada that has no extenuating circumstances is a gross misdemeanor. The sentence is:
- a maximum of 364 days in jail, and/or
- a maximum of $2,000 in fines
3.2 Punishment for “battery on a peace officer” in Nevada involving strangulation or substantial bodily harm
“Battery on a peace officer” involving strangulation or resulting in substantial bodily harm to the victim is charged as a category B felony. The sentence is:
- two to ten years imprisonment, and/or
- a maximum of $10,000 in fines
“Battery on a peace officer” involving deadly weapons is a category B felony. If it resulted in no substantial bodily harm to the victim or did not involve strangulation, the sentence is:
- two to ten years imprisonment, and
- maybe a maximum of $10,000 in fines
If the case did result in substantial bodily harm or involved strangulation, the sentence is:
- two to fifteen years imprisonment, and
- maybe a maximum of $10,000 in fines
In other words, the more egregious the alleged circumstances, the harsher the punishment.2
|Battery on a Peace Officer in Nevada||Penalties|
|Gross Misdemeanor charge||364 days in jail, and/or|
up to $2,000
|Category B Felony charge involving strangulation or substantial bodily harm||2 – 10 years in Nevada State Prison, and/or|
up to $10,000
|Category B Felony charge involving deadly weapons with no strangulation nor substantial bodily harm||2 – 10 years in Nevada State Prison, and|
maybe up to $10,000
|Category B Felony charge involving deadly weapons with strangulation or substantial bodily harm||2 – 15 years in Nevada State Prison, and|
maybe up to $10,000
In some cases, prosecutors may be amenable to lowering a Nevada “battery on a peace officer charge” to “simple battery.” Simple battery is only a misdemeanor carrying:
- up to $1,000 in fines, and/or
- up to six months in jail
The advantage of pleading to only a misdemeanor battery in Nevada is that you may petition to get the criminal record sealed after only two (2) years from the time the case is closed. Gross misdemeanors also mandate a two (2) year waiting period. Violent felonies mandate a ten (10) year waiting period.3
And in cases where the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the charge or at trial where the defendant is found “not guilty,” the defendant can begin the record seal process right away; no conviction equals no waiting period for record seals.
Arrested for “battery on a peace officer” in Nevada? Call us now.
If you have been charged with the Nevada crime of battery on a peace officer, our Las Vegas battery on a peace officer lawyers may be able to negotiate with prosecutors to get your case reduced or even dismissed. Call us today for a free consultation so we can move forward with putting this behind you.
- Also see our articles on the evading police (NRS 484B.550) and obstructing a public officer
- Read about California Battery on a Peace Officer Law
- NRS 200.481.
- NRS 179.245.