Domestic Violence 101 – Laws, Facts and Information

Ellena Arroyo

Domestic violence implicates a wider range of offenses beyond simple battery. Acts which constitute this type of crime include any of the following:

o A battery;
o An assault;
o Compelling the other by force or threat of force to perform an act from which she has the right to refrain or to refrain from an act which she has the right to perform;
o A sexual assault;
o A false imprisonment;
o Unlawful entry of the other’s residence, or forcible entry against the other’s will if there is a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm to the other from the entry;
o A knowing, purposeful or reckless course of conduct intended to harass the other including, but is not limited to:

(1) Stalking.

(2) Arson.

(3) Trespassing.

(4) Larceny.

(5) Destruction of private property.

(6) Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

(7) Injuring or killing an animal.

As stated in the Nevada Revised Statutes, domestic violence includes a much broader range of offenses than simple battery. This crime can also include an unlawful entry into the alleged victim’s residence or other harassing conduct.

A person convicted of a first offense of domestic violence in Nevada must be sentenced to a minimum of two days jail time, and a maximum of six months jail time, in the Clark County Detention Center. A person convicted of a first offense also must be sentenced to 48 hours, but not more than 120 hours, of community service. Additionally, a first offense of this crime carries a fine of up to $1,000, and requires up to 6 months of counseling.

A second offense of domestic violence within a seven year period carries a minimum of 10 days jail time, 100 hours of community service, and a year of Las Vegas counseling specific to the crime.

A third domestic violence offense within seven years is punishable as a Category “C” felony and carries a mandatory prison sentence of up to 5 years. In other words, if convicted of a third domestic violence offense within seven years of the first conviction for a domestic violence offense, the District Court Judge must, under Nevada law, sentence you to mandatory prison time in Nevada State Prison.

Unfortunately, under the Nevada revised Statutes, a prosecutor lacks discretion in dismissing or reducing domestic violence charges unless your attorney can uncover a legal or factual problem with the case and demonstrate clearly that the case cannot be readily proven.

According to the Nevada Revised Statutes, NRS 200.485(7), if a person is charged with committing a battery, a prosecuting attorney “shall not” dismiss such a charge, or plead down the charge to a lesser charge or for any other reason unless the prosecutor knows, or it is obvious, that the charge is not supported by probable cause or cannot be proven at trial.

The above language, combined with the often overzealous prosecution of these cases by prosecutors, is a recipe for disaster. Prosecutors who handle domestic violence cases in Las Vegas have very little discretion. Often common sense takes a backseat to an overzealous Clark County Prosecutor’s desire to obtain a serious domestic violence conviction for what could have been handled in a more effective and lenient fashion. Not every Battery case needs to result in a conviction. Oftentimes, the police arrive at an incident, don’t get the right facts, arrest the wrong person, and refer a case for prosecution which should not have been submitted to the Clark County District Attorney’s Office. As someone who is charged with Domestic Violence in Las Vegas, you need to look for ways to protect yourself and have your side of the story represented fairly and aggressively. Otherwise, you will in all probability, pay high penalties, be forced to attend mandatory weekly counseling, and most significantly, serve jail time.

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