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Difference Between Domestic Violence and Domestic Battery in Nevada

Published January 15, 2020 by ADRAS & ALTIG, Attorneys at Law
woman sitting down while man is about to attack her

Domestic violence is a broad term we often hear in descriptions of fights between spouses and other family members. But when Las Vegas police make an arrest after a fight or another incident involving family members in Nevada, the individual arrested often faces a charge of domestic battery. It is at this point, one should likely seek legal counsel.

Domestic battery is one of several closely defined charges under the overall domestic violence statute in Nevada (Nev. Rev. Stat. § 33.018). It is the most common charge in domestic violence cases because the legal definition of battery is broad and easily applied after a domestic dispute has drawn the police.

Under Nevada law, battery means any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon another person. Note that battery does not require an injury or any amount of harm, or even physical contact between an alleged perpetrator and victim. The terms “force” and “violence” are ambiguous and not defined by the statute.

The domestic violence statute applies to violence against certain individuals. You can expect to at least be charged with domestic battery if you are arrested after a fight with any of the following:

  • A spouse or former spouse
  • A person you have a child with
  • A person you are living with or you previously lived with
  • A person you are dating or used to date
  • Your child
  • Any blood relative or a person you are related to by marriage

When a battery charge is filed under Nevada’s domestic violence statute, it may be called “domestic battery” or “battery domestic violence (BDV).” If you are charged with domestic battery or a related charge, you need to obtain representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

In Las Vegas, the dedicated domestic violence attorneys of Adras & Altig have more than a decade of experience successfully handling these complex cases. Contact us for a free consultation about your case and how we can represent you.

What Is Considered to be Domestic Violence?

The Nevada Attorney General’s Office explains that domestic violence is different from random crimes because the perpetrator and victim are not strangers. Instead, they are intimate partners, family members or parents of common children. The AG’s Office defines domestic violence as “a crime involving the use of power, coercion, and violence to control another.”

By law in Nevada, acts that may be considered domestic violence include:

  • Battery
  • Assault
  • Compelling another person by force or threat to perform or abstain from an act that the other person has the right to refrain from doing
  • Sexual assault
  • Conduct meant as harassment, including:
    • Stalking
    • Arson
    • Trespassing
    • Larceny
    • Destruction of private property
  • Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit
  • Injuring or killing an animal
  • Burglary
  • An invasion of the home
  • False imprisonment
  • Pandering; for example:
    • compelling another person by force, threat, persuasion or enticement to become a prostitute or to continue to engage in prostitution

As you can see, domestic violence crimes in Nevada would be crimes on their own; that is if they did not involve people with current or past domestic or familial relationships, the potential penalties upon conviction are stiffer.

What is the Potential Sentence for Domestic Battery in Nevada?

The State of Nevada lays out strict penalties for those convicted of domestic battery.

If you are found guilty of domestic battery, you may face:

First Offense (Misdemeanor)

  • A minimum of 2 days to a maximum of 6 months in jail
  • The requirement to perform 48 hours (minimum) to 120 hours (maximum) of community service
  • Fine of $200 to $1,000, plus assessments
  • Domestic violence counseling of 1½ hours per week for 6 months to 12 months at the defendant’s expense
  • Participation in an alcohol or drug treatment program (at the discretion of the judge)
  • Costs of counseling for underage victims at the discretion of the judge

Second Offense Within 7 Years (Misdemeanor)

  • 10 days to 6 months in jail
  • 100 hours to 200 hours of court-ordered community service
  • Fines of $500 to $1,000, plus assessments
  • Domestic violence counseling of 1½ hours per week for a minimum of 12 months, at the defendant’s expense
  • Participation in an alcohol or drug treatment program at the discretion of the judge
  • Costs of counseling for underage victims at the discretion of the judge

Third Offense Within 7 Years (Category C Felony)

  • 1 year (minimum) to 5 years (maximum) in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines (at the discretion of the judge)

If the case involves strangulation, substantial bodily harm, or use of a deadly weapon, the penalty handed down upon conviction can be more severe.

For comparison, simple battery – not committed with a deadly weapon and with no substantial bodily harm to the victim – on a first offense is punishable as a misdemeanor, which means it is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 6 months or by a fine of up to $1,000, or by both fine and imprisonment. There are no minimums prescribed by law, as there are for domestic battery, and there is no mandatory counseling.

Battery vs. Assault

Another separate criminal charge often confused with battery is assault. As indicated above, domestic battery and domestic assault are considered separate crimes.

Assault is attempting to use force against another person or putting a person in fear of bodily harm. Battery is the actual use of force or violence against another person. Again, when perpetrated against people close to the alleged assailant, the acts may be charged as domestic assault and domestic battery.

A battery charge is more likely to be filed if harm occurs, though a physical injury is not required. A fight or another act toward an alleged victim that includes force or instills fear, but causes no physical harm is more likely to result in a charge of assault. “Force” when considering an assault charge may be defined as any compulsion or constraint (making a person do something or preventing them from doing something) exerted upon a person by any means short of physical contact.

Assault and domestic assault on a first offense are treated as a misdemeanor, just like battery, as long as there was no deadly weapon used.

How Victims of Domestic Violence Can Seek Help in Las Vegas

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says Nevada ranks among the worst states in the country for domestic violence. For many years, Nevada consistently ranked 1st in the nation for domestic violence fatalities. The NCADV says 48.1% of Nevada women and 30.9% of Nevada men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.

For that reason, Nevada courts treat domestic violence cases seriously, and anyone facing domestic violence charges needs the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

The attorneys at Adras & Altig offer robust legal representation to individuals accused of crimes. Domestic cases are often far more complicated than the police charges would indicate. The U.S. Constitution guarantees all defendants a right to an attorney.

In Las Vegas, the Metropolitan Police Department’s victim advocates are available to provide support to alleged victims of all types of crimes. Individuals in the department provide crisis intervention, support, and referrals. Moreover, they encourage safety practices to reduce the likelihood of future victimization. Victim advocates are trained to provide emotional support as well as information about the law and court proceedings and resources for additional help.

Contact the LVMPD Domestic Violence Unit at (702)828-4451 or do not hesitate to phone 911 in an emergency.

Among several assistance hotlines, Las Vegas police refer individuals to is the SafeNest hotline at (702)646-4981. SafeNest provides emergency and legal services, safe housing and long-term counseling to victims and survivors of relationship abuse.

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Contact a Lawyer For Help With Battery or Assault Charges

If you have been arrested on a domestic violence charge in Clark County, Nevada, you should call a seasoned Las Vegas domestic violence attorney as soon as possible. If you contact Adras & Altig, we can work quickly to protect your rights and work to keep you from suffering the damage a criminal conviction can do to your life.

Even if your accuser recants, Nevada prosecutors are not allowed to reduce or drop domestic violence battery charges unless they know the defendant is not guilty. You could face jail, months of counseling sessions and community service, plus hundreds of dollars in fines if convicted.

Contact Adras & Altig in Las Vegas as soon as possible for a free initial consultation and evaluation of your case. Our domestic battery attorneys will act quickly to protect your rights and ensure your case proceeds in a manner that is fair to you and results in the best outcome possible.

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