Felony Domestic Violence

Las Vegas  Domestic Violence Defense  Attorney

In Nevada, a first offense Domestic Violence allegation is typically charged as a Misdemeanor offense.  However, in certain circumstances, a domestic violence incident can give rise to a more serious Felony offense.  The law governing Domestic Violence allegations is controlled by Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) Felony Domestic Violence – NRS 200.485

Definition of the Crime and Essential Elements

Felony Domestic Battery

For the State to prove someone guilty of committing felony battery domestic violence, it must show beyond a reasonable doubt some of the following elements:

1)    The accused and the alleged victim are related by blood or marriage (related by blood, married, dating, having a child in common or living together); and

2)    The accused committed battery (the intentional infliction of unlawful physical force) against the alleged victim; and

3)    The accused has been convicted of battery domestic violence twice in the past seven years; OR

4)    The alleged victim was strangled; OR

5)    The alleged incident resulted in substantial bodily harm; OR

6)    The accused used a deadly weapon.

In Nevada, Domestic Battery is a “must arrest offense.” This means that in most investigations conducted by law enforcement, the police officer has to make an arrest when he or she determines there has been an incident of violence in the context of a domestic relationship.  When police are contacted and called out for a domestic battery reporting, they investigate to determine if a battery has occurred and whether it is between two people in a domestic relationship.  If this exists, the officer will then investigate to determine if a primary physical aggressor can be identified amongst those involved.  IF police believe one party is the primary physical aggressor and that probable cause exists, then that person will be arrested. In most investigations, a suspect will be arrested (and later charged) if the person is accused of doing any of the following to the alleged victim; hitting, kicking, pushing, strangling, striking, grabbing, hair pulling or even if the allegation involves throwing objects or spitting on the alleged victim.   

In some cases, such as where s strangulation is alleged, substantial bodily harm to the victim is reported or a deadly weapon was used by the alleged perpetrator, the arrest and charge will be for a felony level offense. 

Nevada law defines strangulation as “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.”

Nevada law defines substantial bodily harm as “prolonged physical pain,” or “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.”

NRS 193.165 defines a deadly weapon as “any instrument which, if used in the ordinary manner contemplated by its design and construction, will or is likely to cause substantial bodily harm or death”, or “any weapon, device, instrument, material or substance, which under, the circumstance sin which it issued, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing substantial bodily harm or death.”

 Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

1. Assault – NRS 200.471

2. Assault with a Deadly Weapon – NRS 200.471

3. Domestic Violence – NRS 200.485

4. Substantial Bodily Harm – NRS 0.060

5. Battery – NRS 200.481

 Examples

A couple gets into a verbal argument. The woman gets extremely angry and hits her husband on the shoulder with a baseball bat. She could be charged with felony domestic violence, because of the baseball bat being used as a deadly weapon in this incident.

Likewise, assume a boyfriend becomes angry at his girlfriend during an argument.  When she tries to leave, he grabs her around the neck out of frustration.  He may be arrested and charged with Felony Domestic Violence/Strangulation. 

Defenses to Felony Domestic Violence  

As with every other type of crime which can be the basis for criminal charges in the State of Nevada, the simple fact that an arrest is made or a charge filed in Court does mandate that the person charged be convicted.  In fact, there are numerous case specific defenses available to a criminally charged Defendant which may prevent a conviction.  A knowledgeable Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney can use these defenses to allow the charges to be reduced or raised as defenses at Trial leading to acquittal.

In many cases a domestic violence allegation arises as part of a tension filled familial or personal disagreement.  These volatile situations are often the originators of activity between two (2) people where one acts out, causing the other to react.  It is extremely commonplace for the person accused in a domestic violence case to have been acting in self-defense when the physical force was used against their partner. Acting in self-defense legally justifies actions which would otherwise amount to criminal conduct and, if acting in self-defense, a person is not guilty of the alleged crime

It is also very possible for the domestic battery incident to take place in an extremely emotional situation. When parents are involved in a child custody or a bitter divorce, a parent may falsely accuse the other of domestic violence so that they can have an advantage in family court. The accused in this case will have to point out the inconsistencies in the witness statements or show how the statements are untrue.

Potential Penalty for Domestic Battery

A third domestic battery in seven years is a Category C Felony. If convicted, the person faces one to five years in the Nevada Department of Corrections and a fine of up to $10,000.  This is a non probationable charge meaning the person convicted cannot receive probation and must serve prison time. 

If the domestic battery occurred by way of strangulation, that person is being charged with a non probationable Category C Felony and facing one to five years in the Nevada Department of Corrections, and a fine of up to $15,000.

If the domestic battery occurred with a deadly weapon, then that person is being charged with a Category B Felony. The accused faces between two to ten years in the Nevada Department of Corrections and a fine of up to $10,000. 

If the domestic battery occurred with a deadly weapon and resulted in substantial bodily harm, then that person is being charged with a Category B Felony. That individual faces between two to fifteen years in the Nevada Department of Corrections and a fine of up to $10,000.

Criminal Defense for Domestic Battery

Felony domestic violence is a serious charge which carries prison sentences as opposed to classes and counseling.  These cases can be very complex and difficult.  It is absolutely critical that the accused meets with an experienced Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney immediately in order to begin building the best defense possible.  If you are facing this difficult situation, or know someone who is, call Veteran Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney right away and let him start fighting your case immediately.  We always offer free consultations.  Call us today.  (702) 895-6760.