Las Vegas Assault Attorney Explains Battery Charges in Nevada
Assault and battery are considered “crimes against the person” in Nevada. Charges for assault and battery can range from simple misdemeanors to serious felonies, and the reasons for one sentence rather than another can be convoluted. It is also important to understand that you can be charged with both crimes based on the same set of circumstances which led to arrest.
A qualified and experienced Las Vegas assault and battery defense lawyer can navigate the complexities of assault and battery crimes to reduce the charges or even have them dismissed, especially if you have been charged with both crimes.
Because these crimes can result in a a felony criminal record, your best bet is to hire an experienced and aggressive assault and battery defense lawyer in Las Vegas as soon after arrest as possible to start your defense.
Nevada Legal Definition of Assault
An assault has occurred when a person fears that he or she is about to be touched in an unwanted way. Physical touching or injury is not required for assault, but if you did attempt to touch the person with unwanted contact, this also constitutes an assault.
Assault can occur with or without a weapon. If a weapon is used, the sentence for an assault conviction greatly increases. Learn more about the sentence for assault in Nevada, and assault with a deadly weapon, below.
Finally, “fighting words” that provoke someone to commit assault because you have angered them is another type of assault. The fact that a person was provoked in this way is still probably not a defense to assault, but the speaker of the words may be charged with assault if the words were sufficiently inflammatory.
Nevada Legal Definition of Battery
Battery is an intentional, unwanted touching of another person. It is often by force, but simple touching is enough if the person does not consent to it. No injury is required because battery only requires that you intend to hurt them. Battery means that the person was touched, but that does not necessarily mean by you directly, such as with your hand. This can also include a person getting hit by something you are holding or by forcing the person into something like a wall as a result of fear or intimidation.
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Different types of battery are punished in different ways in Nevada. The different types of battery in Nevada are:
- Simple battery;
- Domestic violence battery;
- Battery resulting in serious bodily harm; and
- Battery with a deadly weapon.
Each of these types of battery carries its own set of punishments depending on the severity of the crime.
What is Misdemeanor Battery?
Misdemeanor battery in Nevada occurs when:
- Intentional unwanted touching occurs
- The accused did not have a deadly weapon
- The victim of the battery was not entitled to special protections under the law. Special protections are given to peace officers, sporting referees during a game, healthcare providers, transit officials, tax drivers, judges, fireman, public officials, and certain other protected groups
- The accused was not an inmate and was not on parole or probation at the time of the incident.
A defendant accused of misdemeanor battery could face up to six months in jail time and a fine up to $1,000.
What is Gross Misdemeanor Battery in Las Vegas
A defendant could also be accused of a gross misdemeanor in connection with battery in the state of Nevada. A gross misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony but is more serious than a misdemeanor. A defendant could be accused of gross misdemeanor battery if:
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- Intentional unwanted touching occurs.
- The accused did not have a deadly weapon.
- The victim of the battery was entitled to special protections under the law. Public officials, teachers, taxi and transit drivers, judges, and other protected groups are all included here. If the defendant engaged in abusive behavior against a protected person, the battery offense becomes more serious.
- The defendant was not an inmate and was not on parole or probation at the time when the incident occurred.
For a gross misdemeanor, a defendant could face up to 364 days in jail as well as a fine of up to $2,000.
What is Battery with Substantial Bodily Harm?
If a defendant engages in intentional unwanted contact and there are aggravating factors which make the defendant’s actions worse, the defendant can be charged with an even more serious offense than a gross misdemeanor.
When a defendant is on parole, probation, or is an inmate and attacks a victim who is a member of a protected class, the defendant could face category D felony charges. A defendant could be imprisoned for between one year and four years for a category D felony and could be fined up to $5,000.
If a defendant commits a battery offense with a deadly weapon, then the offense escalates to a category B felony. This could mean a conviction results in a lengthy prison term and up to $5,000.
Domestic Violence Battery
Domestic violence battery is typically a misdemeanor offense. This means jail time for a first offense is usually not likely, although it is a possibility. For a second domestic violence battery offense, the offense remains a misdemeanor in most circumstances but the defendant may need to serve time in jail.
If a defendant engaged in certain conduct with a partner, the defendant could face a harsher penalty for domestic violence battery. More stringent penalties can be imposed if deadly weapons were used; if the domestic battery involves strangulation; or if the alleged act of domestic abuse caused the victim to experience serious and/or permanent injury.
Felony charges under these circumstances could result in a lengthy prison sentence. A felony on your record could also affect all aspects of your life, including your right to own guns as well as future job and relationship opportunities.
Defenses to Battery Charge
There are many defenses to assault and battery in Nevada. If the touch was not intentional or not intended to cause harm, it is not battery. If the person consented to the touch, the requirements for the Nevada crime of battery have not been met. Another defense to assault and battery is that the touch was expected. Finally, self-defense may be another defense to battery charges.
If the person claiming they were assaulted should not have felt threatened by the accused based on the facts of the case, this can be a defense to assault. This may be because the accused person and the victim were known to one another, and they had a history of aggressive but playful behavior toward each other. The victim, then, would not be justified in feeling threatened by statements or attempted actions by the accused due to their past interactions which did not result in physical harm (battery).
Penalties for Battery in Nevada
Sentencing for Simple Battery
A first time offense for simple battery is a misdemeanor, as long as it did not involve a weapon or result in substantial bodily harm like permanent disfigurement. A misdemeanor carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Nicholas Wooldridge – an experienced Las Vegas criminal lawyer can help reduce this penalty to community service only, for example.
Sentencing for Battery (with a deadly weapon)
Battery with a deadly weapon in Nevada is a very serious charge, even if it is a first time offense. This is a Category B felony. If the battery with a deadly weapon did not result in injuries, 2 to 10 years of prison time is available to the prosecutor. If substantial bodily harm resulted from the battery with a deadly weapon, the punishment can increase to as much as 15 years in prison with fines up to $10,000.
Sentencing for Battery with Substantial Bodily Harm
If a battery occurs without the use of a deadly weapon in Nevada, but does cause serious injury, the battery is a Category C felony. This brings 1 to 5 years in a Nevada prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Enhanced Penalties for Nevada Crimes
The penalties for different types of battery, described above, and other crimes can be increased by 1 to 20 years if aggravating factors are present. There are enhanced penalties for battery against certain victims, like police officers, teachers, judges, firefighters, cab drivers, and even other inmates in a correctional facility located in the state. In any form, battery is a serious crime that allows a variety of harsh punishments depending on the facts of the case.
Suspended Sentences for Assault & Battery Crimes in Nevada
In certain cases, the judge is allowed to suspend an assault and battery sentence for up to two years. A suspended sentence is the same as probation, where the defendant does not report to jail, but must stay out of legal trouble for the same time period he or she would have been in jail. In domestic violence cases, the judge can suspend the sentence for up to three years as long as some minimum amount of time is served in jail.
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More Information on Battery in Nevada
Learn more about assault and battery punishments, the definition of assault and battery, and defenses in the Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 200. Contact LV Criminal Defense today for the best defense to assault and battery charges.