Las Vegas Lawyer for Assault Charges
What Is The Crime of Assault?
Did you know that putting a person in fear of imminent bodily harm is a crime? When most people think of the crime of assault, they also think of the crime of battery. However, assault and battery are different crimes and carry different penalties.
If you’re facing assault charges, you could be prosecuted for commission of either a misdemeanor or felony crime. It all depends on the facts. For this reason, having a skilled lawyer that understands the nuances of the law is extremely important and can make the difference between being charged with a serious crime versus a crime with substantially lower penalties.
Under Nevada law, an “assault” is defined as unlawfully attempting to use physical force against another person or intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent bodily harm. The difference between assault and battery is that an assault does not require a physical touching. All that’s required is either an attempt to use force or making someone believe they are about to be physically harmed. Assault is a much less serious crime than a battery.
Some examples of conduct that would constitute an assault include the following:
● Pointing an unloaded gun at another person without the person realizing the gun is unloaded;
● Throwing a rock at another person who is sleeping with the intent to hit them but missing;
● Sticking a finger in another person’s face causing them to back up;
● Attempting to punch another person in the face and missing.
These are examples of conduct that can result in criminal charges for assault. The key fact in each of these situations is that the perpetrator either intends to use physical force against another (but no physical contact and harm results) or the victim is aware of an immediate physical threat.
DEFENSES TO ASSAULT CHARGES
There are a number of viable defenses to assault charges. Among them are the following:
● Lack of intent. There is no crime if the incident was an accident. For example, Jimmy and Jackson are friends and roommates. Jimmy is horsing around and twirling his shotgun in his bedroom when Jackson walks in and faints out of fear hitting the ground and injuring his back. Can Jimmy be prosecuted for assault? The answer is no because Jimmy didn’t intend to harm Jackson or cause him any fear. He was only playing around in his room not thinking anyone would walk in on him.
● Self-defense. A person can’t be prosecuted for assaulting another if they were acting in self-defense. For example, Betty is in a small hardware store when Angry walks in with a knife in his hand waiving it around and yelling that he’s pissed off at the world causing everyone in the store, including Betty, to fear for their safety. Betty grabs an axe and tells Angry to get lost. Frightened by the size of the axe compared to his knife, Angry walks backward into a shelf, loses his balance and falls down injuring himself. Can Betty be prosecuted for assault? No. She was reasonably in fear for her safety given Angry’s behavior and was simply defending herself. Under Nevada law, she would have a valid defense.
● Lack of reasonable fear on the part of the victim is also a defense to assault charges. Mike is dating Lisa. Lisa’s ex-boyfriend Grumpy makes a “Facetime” call to her. Instead, Mike answers and begins yelling at Grumpy. Grumpy brandishes his revolver and tells Mike he’s going to blow his brains out and points the gun toward the video that Mike is watching. Mike faints and falls to the ground. Can Grumpy be prosecuted for assaulting Mike? The answer is no. There is no reasonable apprehension of imminent bodily harm since Grumpy could not possibly harm Mike through the video. Thus, there can be no charge of assault.
PENALTIES FOR ASSAULT
If a person does not use a deadly weapon and commits an assault, then generally the penalty is up to 6-months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. If the victim of the assault is a police officer or some other special class of person (e.g. health care worker, taxi driver, school employees, government officials) , then the penalty can be up to 364 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine.
If a person does not use a deadly weapon and commits and assault but they do so while in custody, prison or on parole, then they could be charged with a category D felony and face up to 1 to 4 years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.
If a person commits an assault with a deadly weapon, then he or she could be charged with a category B felony and face up to 1 to 6 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
THE VEGAS LAWYERS CAN HELP YOU IF YOU’RE CHARGED WITH ASSAULT
An assault charge can have consequences for your career and social standing. Having an “assault” charge on your record can subject you to greater scrutiny when it comes to many different areas of life. You don’t want to be charged with assault. However, if you do, you can’t afford to gamble with your lawyer. You need The Vegas Lawyers on your side. Our amazing team of talented professionals can help you with your assault charge by having it reduced or dismissed depending upon the circumstances.
Call today at (702) 707-7000 for a confidential consultation. The Vegas Lawyers can help you get justice.