Battery domestic violence (BDV) in Nevada is defined as intentionally inflicting unlawful physical force on current or former spouses, dating partners or certain family members.
|1st BDV in 7 years|| |
|2nd BDV in 7 years |
|3rd BDV in 7 years|| |
|any BDV with aggravating factors || |
Five key things to know about NRS § 200.485 – Nevada’s battery domestic violence crime – are:
- Examples of BDV are slapping your wife or grabbing your boyfriend’s cell phone out of their hand.
- Three effective defenses to BDV charges are that you acted in self-defense, that the incident was an accident, or that you were falsely accused.
- Sometimes accusers injure themselves to back up their false abuse stories.
- Prosecutors will not drop BDV charges just because the accusers take back their allegations.
- Misdemeanor BDV convictions cannot be sealed until seven years have passed since the case closed, and felony BDV convictions must remain on your record for 10 years.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer 15 frequently-asked-questions about battery domestic violence in Nevada:
- 1. How does Nevada define battery domestic violence?
- 2. What is bail for domestic violence in Nevada?
- 3. How much time do you get for domestic violence in Nevada?
- 4. Is domestic violence a felony in Nevada?
- 5. How can I get a domestic battery case dismissed?
- 6. Can I get my criminal record sealed?
- 7. Will this show up on a background check?
- 8. What if the “victim” does not want to press charges?
- 9. Do I really need to hire a lawyer?
- 10. Will I lose my right to have a gun?
- 11. Will I get deported?
- 12. Is there a statute of limitations on domestic violence in Nevada?
- 13. What is the best and worst that can happen in a battery domestic violence case?
- 14. The police are on their way – what should I do?
- 15. What are the types of domestic violence?
- Resources for victims of domestic violence
1. How does Nevada define battery domestic violence?
Under NRS 200.485, the Nevada offense of “battery domestic violence” has two elements:
- You and the victim are or were in a domestic relationship; and
- You committed battery against the alleged victim.
The law is the same whether you are prosecuted by a deputy district attorney in Justice Court or by a city attorney in Municipal Court.
1.1 “Domestic relations” definition
In Nevada, battery domestic violence charges apply only when you and the alleged victim share a familial, intimate, or domestic relationship. Examples of these relationships include:
- spouses (current, separated, or divorced)
- domestic partners (current or separated)
- co-parents of a minor child
- significant others (regardless of whether the relationship is exclusive)
- minor children of the above or your minor children
- relatives by blood or marriage with the exception of cousins or siblings (unless they are in a guardianship or custodial arrangement with you)
- when you are the guardian of the alleged victim
Physical violence between friends, acquaintances, neighbors, or strangers may qualify as battery (NRS 200.481) but never as BDV.
1.2 “Battery” definition
Battery (NRS 200.481) is deliberately touching another person in a violent, aggressive, hostile, or simply unwanted way. In Nevada, battery charges typically involve allegations of
- cutting, or
- throwing objects at the victim.
We have seen cases where people were convicted of battery even if the alleged victim did not sustain any injuries or even felt pain. All that matters is that there was unlawful or unwanted physical touching, regardless of the consequences.1
Read more about the definition of BDV.
2. What is bail for domestic violence in Nevada?
Battery domestic violence offense in Nevada
Standard bail amount in Las Vegas Justice Court
3. How much time do you get for domestic violence in Nevada?
A first-time BDV in a seven-year period is typically a misdemeanor in Nevada. Penalties include:
- $200 to $1,000 (the minimum fine is $300 with court costs);
- 48 to 120 hours of community service;
- Domestic violence counseling for at least 1 ½ hours per week for at least 6 months (26 weeks);
- 2 days to 6 months in jail (in our experience, courts will suspend the jail sentence as long as you complete the other sentencing terms)
A second-time BDV in a seven-year period is also a misdemeanor, but there is a minimum 20-day jail sentence. The punishments include:
- $500 to $1,000 (the minimum fine is $800 with court costs);
- 100 to 200 hours of community service;
- Domestic violence counseling for at least 1 ½ hours per week for at least 12 months (52 weeks); and
- 20 days to 6 months of jail time
A third offense BVD in a seven-year period is automatically a category B felony, even if the victim sustains no injuries. The punishment is
- one to six years in Nevada State Prison and
- a $1,000 to $5,000 fine.
Note that once you get a felony-level BDV conviction, any future BDV cases get charged as a category B felony – even if the case is minor. The penalty is
- two to fifteen years in prison and
- $2,000 to $5,000 in fines.
Felony BDV convictions are not probationable.
3.1. BDV with aggravating factors
Battery domestic violence is always a category B felony in Nevada if you had a deadly weapon or the victim sustained substantial bodily harm. As defined by NRS 0.060, substantial bodily harm is either:
- Bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ; or
- Prolonged physical pain.
Examples include broken bones, organ damage, serious burns, black eyes, head injuries such as concussions, and anything requiring stitches.
BDV crime in Nevada
Category B felony penalties
|BDV resulting in substantial bodily harm but with no deadly weapon|| |
|The BDV caused no substantial bodily harm, but there was a deadly weapon|| |
|BDV with a deadly weapon and substantial bodily harm|| |
- one to five years in prison and
- up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge’s discretion).
3.2. BDV with pregnant victims
Battery domestic violence penalties are harsher in Nevada when you knew the victim was pregnant (or should have known the victim was pregnant).
A first-time BDV offense against a pregnant victim is a gross misdemeanor, carrying up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines. A subsequent offense is a category B felony, carrying
- one to six years in prison and
- $1,000 to $5,000 in fines.
3.3. Restraining orders after a BDV arrest
It is common in Nevada for battery domestic violence victims to have restraining orders taken out against them. Typical requirements are that you avoid contact with the victim and surrender any firearms. Violating a restraining order (NRS 33.100) is a crime in itself:
Type of Nevada protection order
Penalty for violations
|Temporary protective order (TPO), which lasts up to 45 days||Misdemeanor: |
|Extended protective order, which lasts up to one year||First offense is a misdemeanor: |
Second offense is a gross misdemeanor:
Subsequent offense is a category D felony:
If a restraining order is taken out against you, you can ask your attorney to file a motion to modify the terms so you can continue to see your children while your case is pending.
3.4. How BDV affects child custody cases
Nevada family law judges make their child custody decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child. So we see lots of cases where divorcing spouses make false BDV allegations in an effort to get primary custody.
Initially, Nevada law presumes that both parents get joint legal and physical custody. Though if a family law judge finds that there is “clear and convincing evidence” that you committed BDV, then the law presumes that the other parent should get primary physical custody. Then it can be very difficult for you to overcome this “rebuttable presumption” that you are unfit for custody.3
Fortunately, we have been very successful in exposing when accusers are making untrue accusations about our clients just to get a leg up in family court. We can usually impeach their credibility through “prior inconsistent statements” such as their past text messages, emails, and voicemails.
Read more about BDV penalties.
4. Is domestic violence a felony in Nevada?
In Nevada, domestic violence can be charged as a felony in four situations:
- You have two prior BDV convictions in the prior seven years.
- You had a deadly weapon.
- The victim was strangled.
- The victim sustained substantial bodily harm.
Otherwise, BDV is prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense in Nevada.4
5. How can I get a domestic battery case dismissed?
Here at Las Vegas Defense Group, we have represented literally thousands of people charged with battery domestic violence and have a long track record of getting these cases substantially reduced or dismissed so your record stays clear.
In our experience, the following six defense arguments are very effective with prosecutors, judges, and juries:
5.1. You acted in self-defense
Nevada law permits you to fight back in self-defense against an aggressor as long as:
- you reasonably believe it is necessary to avoid imminent injury to yourself or someone else, and
- you use no more force than necessary to deflect the attack.
We hire the best expert witnesses available to distinguish between injuries committed in self-defense and those inflicted in wrongful aggression. Credible expert testimony can make the difference between a conviction and a full dismissal.
5.2. The BDV accusations are false
Another potential defense is that the “victim” falsely accused you just to “get back” at you. This is particularly common during child custody battles.
Some accusers even self-inflict injuries before calling 911 in an attempt to back up their allegations. Certain expert witnesses can distinguish between self-inflicted injuries and those that are legitimate.
Common evidence we rely on in these cases includes eyewitness accounts and video surveillance. We also go through past communications by the accuser (such as text messages and voicemails) in search of evidence of their motivations to lie.
5.3. The incident was an accident
It can be an effective defense to argue that the incident was just an accident. As long as you did not knowingly touch the victim in an unlawful way, BDV charges should be dropped.
Video and eyewitness accounts are valuable evidence in these cases.
5.4. The police committed misconduct
Note that police misconduct could also get a BDV case dismissed. A big part of our job is investigating the police’s investigation in search of all the places where they broke protocol, thereby raising a reasonable doubt as to your guilt.
For example, if law enforcement conducted an illegal search, we can file a motion to suppress asking the judge to disregard any unlawfully-discovered evidence. If the judge agrees, the D.A. may be left with too weak a case to continue prosecuting.
5.5. There is insufficient evidence
In the rare event your BDV case is not resolved and goes to trial, we can argue that there is insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt – which is a very high bar.
Note that anyone charged with a misdemeanor or felony BDV has the right to a jury trial or a bench trial, where the judge decides the verdict.6 In most cases, you are advised to choose a jury trial over a bench trial.
In our experience, juries tend to be more sympathetic to defendants than judges are. Unlike jurors, judges are aware of any incriminating evidence that may have been suppressed during the case’s pretrial phase; therefore, it may be difficult for judges to disregard this evidence when determining if sufficient evidence exists to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
5.6. You suffer from Battered Woman Syndrome
In situations where you are a woman in an abusive relationship, it may be possible to argue that your actions were a reasonable, proactive way to prevent and protect yourself from further abuse.5
6. Can I get my criminal record sealed?
Yes. In the state of Nevada, a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor battery domestic violence conviction may be sealed seven years after the case closes. A felony BDV conviction is sealable 10 years after the case closes.
BDV charges that get reduced to simple battery can be sealed two years after the case closes. Or if the BDV charge gets completely dismissed, then we can petition the court for a record seal immediately.7
7. Will this show up on a background check?
Nevada battery domestic violence cases do show up on criminal background checks unless you get them sealed. We advise everyone with a BDV case to pursue a seal as soon as legally possible. Having a clean criminal record greatly increases the chances of getting a job, a professional license, loans, and housing.
8. What if the “victim” does not want to press charges?
Here at Las Vegas Defense Group, we have cases all the time where our client is charged with battery domestic violence, and their accuser regrets lying to the police and wants to take back (“recant”) their allegations.
However, alleged victims who do not want to press battery domestic violence charges against you cannot stop the case from going forward in Nevada. This is because:
- Criminal cases are between the state and you (the defendant). Victims have no say over whether charges move forward; and
- Prosecutors believe that victims who recant their BDV allegations have ulterior motives: For example, perhaps the victim needs you out of trouble to keep financially supporting the family; or perhaps your family is threatening to hurt the victim unless the victim recants.
8.1. How prosecutors prove BDV without the victim
When victims do not cooperate with prosecutors, the state relies on other evidence such as eyewitness testimony and medical records of the victim’s injuries. Prosecutors may even call recanting victims to testify at trial to impeach their credibility on the witness stand.
Though in some cases, the victim is the only real evidence prosecutors have. Plus if the victim fails to cooperate with the state, then prosecutors may have no choice but to drop your case for lack of proof.
8.2. Criminal consequences for recanting victims
Note that victims who recant their abuse allegations may face criminal charges for making a false police report (NRS 207.280). Plus victims who ignore their subpoena to appear at the BDV trial risk the judge finding them in contempt and issuing a bench warrant for their arrest – though judges do not always do this.8
9. Do I really need to hire a lawyer?
Retaining an experienced Nevada criminal defense lawyer increases your odds of winning a battery domestic violence case for three reasons:
- Private attorneys conduct a thorough investigation of each case in search of all evidence that could help weaken the state’s case. In contrast, public defenders often do not even look at their clients’ cases until minutes before the court hearing. They simply lack the time and resources to effectively represent their client and fight for a favorable resolution.
- As a private law firm, our Las Vegas domestic violence lawyers take as long as necessary to wear down prosecutors in pursuit of a dismissal or favorable plea deal. In contrast, public defenders have such an enormous caseload that they are motivated to settle quickly – even if it means a bad plea deal for the defendant.
- Prosecutors tend to offer better plea bargains to defendants who are represented by private counsel.
The stakes for a BDV case are so high. You face not just criminal penalties but potentially losing your job and professional license. By relying on our domestic violence attorneys’ legal advice, you can rest assured you are doing everything possible to pursue the best possible outcome in your case.
10. Will I lose my right to have a gun?
You will lose your right to own and possess firearms if you get convicted of battery domestic violence in Nevada. It does not matter if the BDV conviction was for only a misdemeanor. Nor does it matter if you are a law enforcement officer or member of the military, so one BDV case can be a career-killer.
The only way to get gun rights restored in Nevada is through a pardon. Record sealing does not restore gun rights.
Unlawful possession of a firearm (NRS 202.360) is a category B felony in Nevada. Penalties include one to six years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines (at the court’s discretion).9
11. Will I get deported?
A battery domestic violence conviction in Nevada can trigger deportation proceedings for non-U.S. citizens.10 Therefore, foreigners facing BDV criminal charges should hire an attorney to fight to get the charge dismissed or reduced to a non-deportable crime.
12. Is there a statute of limitations on domestic violence in Nevada?
Yes. Nevada’s criminal statute of limitations for misdemeanor battery domestic violence is one year after the offense allegedly occurred. Nevada’s criminal statute of limitations for felony battery domestic violence is three years after the offense allegedly occurred.11
13. What is the best and worst that can happen in a battery domestic violence case?
13.1. Best-case scenario
The best-case scenario if you are charged with battery domestic violence in Nevada is that the state will drop the charge. We have been able to achieve case dismissals, but not without a strong defense.
Nevada prosecutors are not legally allowed to dismiss or reduce BDV charges unless they can show the court that their case is too weak to support a guilty verdict.
13.2. Worst-case scenario
The worst-case scenario if you are charged with battery domestic violence in Nevada is that you get convicted and sentenced to the maximum term of incarceration. This rarely happens, especially in misdemeanor cases.
13.3. Middle-ground scenarios
Many defendants opt to plead no contest to BDV and receive the minimum penalties. Another possibility is that the charge be reduced to
which carries lesser penalties and stigmas than a BDV.
In certain cases, judges may grant you a stayed adjudication: This is where you enter a plea, but the judge holds off on a conviction. Then if you complete certain terms, the judge may reduce or dismiss the charge.
Sometimes the judge allows you to enter a submittal on the record: Here, you do not enter a plea at all. Then once you complete certain terms, the court dismisses the charge.
In sum, it is certainly possible for criminal defense lawyers to negotiate a charge reduction or dismissal in BDV cases. Just note that it is an uphill battle that requires intensive investigation and negotiation.
14. The police are on their way – what should I do?
If you or your (ex) significant other called 911 claiming that domestic violence occurred, use the time before they arrive to compile evidence in your favor. An example would be taking photographs of your injuries and getting the contact information of any witnesses who saw what happened.
When law enforcement arrives, they will observe to see if you or your (ex) significant other has injuries (though they can make arrests without there being visible injuries). Police will also probably question you both separately, and the most important thing is not to admit any guilt or make any confessions. Also, be polite and cooperative.
In Nevada, police must arrest someone if they have probable cause to believe that they committed battery domestic violence within the prior 24 hours.12 If police arrest you, exercise your Miranda right to remain silent since prosecutors can use anything you say to the police officers against you.
Note that the jail cannot release you on bail until there has been a 12-hour cooling-off period.13 During that time, do not speak to any cell mates either about your case – they may pass along your statements to prosecutors in attempt to get a better deal for themselves.
15. What are the types of domestic violence?
Under Nevada law, battery is only one type of domestic violence that can occur between people in an intimate relationship. Other acts that constitute domestic violence are assault (NRS 200.471), coercion (NRS 207.190), sexual assault (NRS 200.366), stalking (NRS 200.575), arson, trespass (NRS 207.200), larceny, destruction of private property, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit (NRS 202.350), injuring or killing an animal (NRS 574.100), burglary (NRS 205.060), invasion of the home (NRS 205.067), false imprisonment (NRS 200.460), and pandering (NRS 201.300(1)).14
Any of these acts of domestic violence can form the basis for getting a restraining order in Nevada.
Resources for victims of domestic violence
Anyone in immediate danger should call 911. Otherwise, victims can find information and support through the following organizations:
- Crisis Support Services of Nevada
- Nevada 211
- Mary’s Law for Nevada
- Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada
- Domestic Violence Resource Center
- Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence
- Nevada Revised Statute 200.485; NRS 33.018. See, for example, LaChance v. State (Nev. 2014) 321 P.3d 919.
- Las Vegas Justice Court Bail Schedule. See, for example, Hobbs v. State (Nev. 2011) 251 P.3d 177. See also AB 51 (2023)(re. BDV arrests).
- NRS 200.485. NRS 33.100. See also Castle v. Simmons (Nev. 2004) 86 P.3d 1042. See also English v. State (Nev. 2000) 9 P.3d 60.
- NRS 200.485. See also State v. Second Judicial Dist. Court of Nev. (Nev. 2018) 421 P.3d 803.
- Battered Woman Syndrome is typically employed in homicide cases. See, for example, Boykins v. State (Nev. 2000) 995 P.2d 474.
- Andersen v. Eighth Judicial District Court (Nev. 2019) 448 P.3d 1120. Nevada Assembly Bill 42 (2021). See also Amezcua v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court of Nev. (Nev. 2014) 319 P.3d 602.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.
- See NRS 51.035, NRS 51.069; NRS 207.280.
- NRS 202.360; see also the Lautenberg Amendment – 18 USC 922(g)(9), which makes it a federal felony offense for people with a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence to ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms or ammunition. Federal charges are prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO). See also the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
- 22 CFR 40.21; 8 USC § 1227; see also U.S. v. Jimenez, (C.A.9, 2001) 258 F.3d 1120.
- NRS 171.085. NRS 171.090.
- NRS 171.1225.
- NRS 178.484.
- NRS 33.018.
- NRS 33.018 (“Domestic violence occurs when a person commits [battery] against or upon the person’s spouse or former spouse, any other person to whom the person is related by blood or marriage, any other person with whom the person is or was actually residing, any other person with whom the person has had or is having a dating relationship, any other person with whom the person has a child in common, the minor child of any of those persons, the person’s minor child or any other person who has been appointed the custodian or legal guardian for the person’s minor child[.]”)
- Andersen v. Eighth Judicial District Court, (2019), 448 P.3d 1120 (“Because our statutes now limit the right to bear arms for a person who has been convicted of misdemeanor battery constituting domestic violence, the Legislature has determined that the offense is a serious one. And given this new classification of the offense, a jury trial is required.”).
- Nevada Assembly Bill 42 (2021) (“If a person is charged with committing a battery which constitutes domestic violence pursuant to NRS 33.018 that is punishable as a misdemeanor and may prohibit the person from owning, possessing or having under his or her control or custody any firearm pursuant to NRS 202.360, the person is entitled to a trial by jury pursuant to subsection 1 of NRS 175.011, regardless of whether the person was previously prohibited from owning, possessing or having under his or her control or custody any firearm pursuant to NRS 202.360.”).