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Can a Victim of Domestic Violence Drop Charges in Nevada?

Published January 25, 2019 by ADRAS & ALTIG, Attorneys at Law
woman sitting down while man is about to attack her

It is a mistake to think that domestic violence charges filed against you in Nevada will go away once your accuser calms down. Nevada law specifically says only the prosecutor can dismiss charges in a domestic violence battery case in Nevada. The alleged victim cannot have charges dropped and the prosecutor can order them to testify if the case goes to court.

At Adras & Altig, our domestic battery defense attorneys will always talk straight with you about the seriousness of the charges you are facing, even if the information is not what you want to hear. Prosecutors in Nevada take cases of domestic violence seriously. Even if an accuser decides to recant, a prosecutor in Nevada cannot reduce or drop domestic violence battery charges unless the prosecutor knows the defendant is not guilty.

You absolutely need an experienced defense attorney working for you as soon as possible after an arrest for domestic violence battery in Nevada. Sometimes a person will make an accusation of domestic violence in the heat of the moment to be vindictive or while intoxicated. A defense attorney can gather evidence to support your version of events to show the charges were exaggerated or false and help you defend yourself.

A Closer Look at Nevada’s Domestic Violence & Battery Laws

Nevada law (Nevada Revised Statute 33.018) considers certain acts to be domestic violence if they are directed toward a family member or certain other people, including:

  • A spouse or former spouse
  • A person you have a child with
  • A person you are living with or you used to live with
  • A person you are dating or used to date
  • Your child
  • Any blood relative or a person you are related to by marriage such as in-laws

Actions that may result in a domestic violence charge include:

  • Battery
  • Assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Harassment including
  • Stalking
  • Arson
  • Trespassing
  • Larceny
  • Destruction of private property
  • Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit
  • Injuring or killing a pet or livestock
  • False imprisonment
  • Compelling another person by force or threats to perform an act or to refrain from an act that the other person has the right to perform
  • Unlawfully entering the other person’s residence, including forcible entry against the other person’s will.

Nevada criminal law as set forth in NRS 200.481 defines battery as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon another person. This may include:

  • Hitting or punching
  • Slapping
  • Pushing or shoving
  • Strangling or choking
  • Grabbing
  • Burning
  • Throwing objects
  • Poisoning
  • Biting or pinching
  • Tugging at the clothes, jewelry, or handbag on the body of the alleged victim
  • Any indirect unlawful touching, such as striking a bicycle the alleged victim is riding.

Other aspects of domestic violence — assault, sexual assault, harassment —also are addressed in the criminal statutes. Because each often includes some form of unlawful use of force or violence, a domestic violence battery charge is typically included in any group of charges filed following a domestic violence complaint.

At NRS 200.485.9, we find:

If a person is charged with committing a battery which constitutes domestic violence pursuant to NRS 33.018, a prosecuting attorney shall not dismiss such a charge in exchange for a plea of guilty, guilty but mentally ill or nolo contendere to a lesser charge or for any other reason unless the prosecuting attorney knows, or it is obvious, that the charge is not supported by probable cause or cannot be proved at the time of trial. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, a court shall not grant probation to or suspend the sentence of such a person. 

A domestic violence battery case can be costly and time-consuming, regardless of the final outcome.

On a first-offense conviction, the perpetrator can be jailed for up to 6 months, fined up to $1,000 and be required to attend months of counseling and community service.

Defenses Against Domestic Violence Battery Charges

The restrictions that Nevada legislators have put on reducing or dropping domestic violence battery charges show how seriously the state takes domestic violence. The Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence (NCEDSV) says in it’s 2017 report that Nevada’s 15 domestic violence services provided 106,462 referrals to alleged victims of domestic violence, prepared 10,423 temporary protection orders, and provided victims with 59,009 nights in shelters during the fiscal year. The NCEDSV identified at least 24 incidents in Nevada in 2016 in which a life was lost due to domestic violence.

If you are arrested for domestic violence, you know that society and the weight of the law are against you. But you still have the right to a presumption of innocence and a vigorous legal defense. You may have been acting in self-defense when the alleged violence occurred. Our defense attorneys at Adras & Altig know that not everyone who is charged with a crime is guilty or should go to jail.

A prosecutor can drop domestic violence battery charges if he or she knows the defendant is not guilty. It is the work of a defense attorney to gather evidence in support of a defendant to convince the prosecutor of his or her innocence.

By demonstrating weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case such as contradictory statements by the accuser, we can often get domestic violence battery charges dismissed or reduced to lesser charges such as disorderly conduct or breach of peace. Another approach is to obtain a “submittal on the record,” which essentially halts the case for reconsideration without a plea while the defendant pays a fine, completes classes and/or counseling, and performs community service, after which charges are reduced or dismissed.

Contact a Las Vegas Domestic Violence Attorney

Domestic battery cases are often complicated by high emotions or alcohol and the fact is that whatever happened occurred behind closed doors without witnesses. Many cases come down to one person’s word against that of another. Prosecutors know these are tough cases to pursue.

If you have been arrested for domestic battery in Las Vegas or Clark County, Nevada, contact Adras & Altig at your first opportunity for a free legal consultation about preparing a vigorous defense for you.

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