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Verbal Abuse: Is It Considered Domestic Violence?

Published October 25, 2019 by ADRAS & ALTIG, Attorneys at Law
man verbally abusing woman

Many fights among couples and other family members never go beyond shouting. But some people who our domestic violence defense attorneys represent are surprised that they have been arrested for spousal, child or elder abuse without ever laying a hand on anyone.

Saying “I never touched him/her” won’t help you in court. You need an actual verbal abuse defense. The crime of domestic battery in Nevada may include verbal and/or emotional abuse charges in many cases. You could even be sued for compensation if the target of the alleged verbal abuse can demonstrate that they suffered psychological trauma.

If arrested in Clark County, Nevada, you need an experienced Las Vegas domestic battery lawyer. At Adras & Altig, our dedicated domestic violence defense attorneys can help you tell your side of the story. Paul J. Adras and Steven M. Altig are reputable and respected Las Vegas domestic abuse defense attorneys. They have more than a decade of experience handling complex cases where it’s all about what someone said, or someone heard, and there’s no physical evidence of harm.

What is Verbal / Emotional Abuse?

The terms “verbal abuse” and “emotional abuse” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have slightly different meanings. Verbal abuse is a kind of emotional abuse, but not all emotional abuse is verbal. For example, looking at someone or acting in a manner that scares him or her is a form of emotional abuse, but it may not actually be verbal.

Either verbal abuse or emotional abuse constitutes the crime of domestic violence in Nevada, which is defined as the use of power, coercion and/or violence to control another. The Nevada Attorney General’s Office says verbal or emotional abuse can be charged as domestic violence if it is directed at a:

  • Husband, wife, girlfriend or boyfriend (spousal abuse)
  • Child by a parent, grandparent, stepparent, or significant other of a parent (child abuse)
  • Senior citizen by their children, grandchildren or others living with or caring for the victim (elderly abuse).

It is important to understand that police who respond to a call about domestic violence almost always make an arrest. Once a charge has been filed, there’s no withdrawing the charges later. The local prosecutor has sole discretion over whether charges go forward, and he or she can force the accuser to testify.

Domestic violence, which is likely charged as battery (assault), is punishable by jail time, fines, community service and counseling (at your expense) on even a first conviction.

There are numerous examples of actions that could prompt a charge of domestic violence based on verbal or emotional abuse that causes someone to fear for his or her safety. They include:

  • Humiliating a person
  • Making threats of bodily harm
  • Making threats against yourself such as “I’d kill myself if you ever …”
  • Blaming a person for your threatening or harmful actions. 

You Could Be Sued for Domestic Verbal Abuse

A verbal abuse charge is more likely to stick if the alleged victim can show that the abuse was ongoing. The alleged perpetrator regularly made threats or humiliated her or him over a long period of time. This indicates intention on the part of the alleged abuser. 

The alleged victim can also make their case stronger if they can show that they were in fact abused – as opposed to simply annoyed or angered. There’s no rule or requirement, but someone who can show that they have sought counseling as a means of coping with the alleged abuse or that they tried to injure themselves as a means of escape is demonstrating harm from another’s actions.

A person who has truly suffered from verbal abuse might pursue a personal injury civil claim for compensation, repayment for the cost of counseling, for example, plus compensation for their pain and suffering. This would be separate from criminal charges, but if you were the subject of such a lawsuit, a domestic violence conviction would weigh against you. The testimony of a domestic violence counselor who had worked with the lawsuit plaintiff would likely be damaging, as well.

How Can a Domestic Battery Attorney in Las Vegas Help Me?

Domestic battery does not have to include physical harm for you to be convicted of the charge. The good news if you have been charged with domestic violence based on verbal or emotional abuse is that the prosecutor must prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. As in other criminal charges, you have a right to an attorney to defend you against the charge.

In many verbal abuse cases, there is very little evidence to prove a domestic battery charge. Many cases come down to “he said, she said.” 

As your defense attorneys, the seasoned defense attorneys at Adras & Altig can get your side of the story and gather any other evidence available to rebut the prosecution’s charges and build a defense for you.

One fight or even the occasional fight that includes a few insults is not necessarily verbal abuse. Being able to show that the charge is based on a one-time incident, or that there is no pattern or evidence of injury, is potentially a strong defense.

Being able to demonstrate, through witness affidavits or testimony, that the plaintiff commonly uses the same or similar language toward you may nullify the idea that he or she was truly harmed or felt abused.

Talk to a Las Vegas Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

The defense attorneys at Adras & Altig are here to help, not judge, people facing criminal charges of domestic violence. Regardless of what led to a charge of domestic violence against you, prosecutors have social and political pressure to take an aggressive stance against people charged with domestic violence. You will need a strong defense. It is crucial that you speak with an experienced Las Vegas domestic battery attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected.

The seasoned Las Vegas domestic violence attorneys of Adras & Altig will work diligently to obtain the best possible outcome for you. Schedule a free consultation with our law office today to get started on your verbal abuse domestic violence charges defense.

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