Domestic Violence Lawyer in Las Vegas
Nevada Domestic Violence Laws
Domestic violence (also known informally as “DV”) is a serious criminal charge in Nevada. If convicted, defendants can expect hefty fines, jail time, and many other complications in other areas of life. For these reasons, those charged with domestic violence should immediately hire a proven Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer.
Just because you’ve been charged with domestic violence doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted. There are various potential defenses to DV charges. Having an experienced lawyer on your side that understands the ins and outs of DV charges is not just important, it’s crucial.
An experienced domestic violence lawyer in Las Vegas can help share your side of the story with the court, conduct an extensive investigation, and build a strong case in your defense.
At The Vegas Lawyers, we are committed to hearing your side of the story, treating you with respect, and developing a strong defense strategy on your behalf.
Domestic violence charges can have a negative impact on all aspects of your life. Don’t gamble with your future. Contact The Vegas Lawyers today and give us a call at 702-707-7000 to schedule your free initial consultation today.
What Is Domestic Violence?
According to the Nevada Attorney General, “domestic violence is generally defined as a violent crime in the context of an intimate relationship.” However, it’s not just a crime involving family members. It can include family members, intimate partners, parents of common children, children, and elderly people.
Domestic violence can include acts involving coercion and force to control another person. “Ongoing domestic violence” is defined as a pattern of escalating abuse where one partner perpetually controls the other via the use of physical force, deprivation, or the threat of either.
Domestic violence generally describes many types of abuse. They include:
- Spousal Abuse: Can occur between a girlfriend and boyfriend, husband and wife, or same-sex couple. Abuse happens when one partner exerts force (i.e., physical, emotional, financial, etc.) to maintain control in the relationship or situation.
- Rape & Sexual Assault: This type of abuse can occur within the context of a relationship or an intimate partner. Typically, it involves the use of physical force or threats to pressure an intimate partner to participate in unwanted sexual acts or rape.
- Child Abuse: Characterized by physical, emotional, or verbal abuse perpetrated against a child by a parent, caretaker, grandparent, family member, etc.
- Elderly Abuse: Can happen to older adults being taken care of by adult children, grandchildren, or caretaker at an assisted living facility. It includes instances of verbal abuse, physical abuse, coercion, financial abuse, and destructive threats.
- Stalking & Cyber Stalking: This can occur when the alleged perpetrator harasses a victim to the point that they are in fear of their well-being. Stalking can occur online or in person. Both cases are punishable offenses.
Domestic Violence Statistics In Nevada
Domestic violence is prevalent all over the nation. However, Nevada (and especially the Las Vegas metropolitan area) has particularly high rates of domestic abuse in comparison to most other parts of the country. For instance, consider the following:
- 48.1 percent of women and 30.9 percent of men in Nevada experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime.
- Domestic violence services are contacted more than 65,000 times a year in Nevada.
- Women are more likely to be assaulted at home than a police officer is while on the job.
- Nearly 25 percent of women in Nevada will experience some form of stalking in their life.
- Nevada has the fourth most domestic violence deaths in the United States.
- Las Vegas accounts for nearly 70 percent of all domestic violence calls in the state.
With these staggering statistics in mind, Nevada legislative and law enforcement bodies have imposed some of the toughest penalties on those convicted of domestic violence.
Penalties For Domestic Violence In Nevada
According to Nevada state law, NRS 200.485, defendants found guilty of domestic violence charges can expect the following penalties:
- First Offense: 48 hours to six months in jail, community service (up to 120 hours), $200 – $1000 in fines, mandatory domestic violence counseling, participation in substance abuse treatment program (if necessary), and more.
- Second Offense (Within Seven Years): 10 days to six months in jail, community service (up to 200 hours), $500 -$1000 in fines, mandatory domestic violence counseling, participation in substance abuse treatment program (if necessary).
- Third Offense (Within Seven Years): 365 days to five years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines.
How Is Domestic Violence Different From Other Criminal Offenses?
The high rates of domestic abuse in Las Vegas, Nevada coupled with the serious nature of the crime has led the government to reduce certain rights for those charged with the offense. Unlike most other crimes, a police officer doesn’t have to witness the event before making an arrest. In fact, an allegation or eyewitness testimony is often enough to initiate charges.
Furthermore, unlike most other criminal cases, the prosecution can present evidence from past criminal activity to depict a defendant as a violent person with certain propensities.
Another key difference between a domestic violence conviction and other crimes is that anyone convicted of DV can no longer own a gun, even if it was only a misdemeanor conviction. Owning a firearm after a domestic violence conviction is a federal crime in many cases. And being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm can lead to federal prosecution. That’s true even if the charges were reduced. Again, this highlights the importance of having a skilled and knowledgeable attorney representing you given the adverse and life-altering consequences that can result from a DV conviction.
What Is A “No-Contact” Order?
In many cases, the judge overseeing a domestic violence case will issue a “no-contact” order that restricts a defendant from contacting or being in the presence of the accuser. These orders are often issued even if there is no proof.
It’s important to note that no-contact orders don’t apply to the accuser. This means that he or she can contact you, the defendant, or approach you anytime they wish. If you find yourself in this predicament, it’s in your best interest to remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.
Violating a no-contact order can lead to harsh penalties, so it’s best to adhere to the order under all circumstances.
What To Expect During A Domestic Violence Court Case
Going to court for any criminal charge can be scary, especially for domestic violence. Knowing what to expect during the process can help ease your anxiety and plan for the process ahead. Generally, domestic violence court cases include the following phases: Arraignment, pre-trial conference, pre-trial, and trial.
An arraignment for domestic violence charges is a court hearing where the defendant is informed of the charges against them and allowed to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or “no contest.” An experienced Las Vegas domestic violence lawyer can explain to you how each plea will affect your case and what’s in your best interest.
During a pre-trial conference, your Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer and the prosecution discuss if the case is going to trial or if it can be resolved via a plea bargain (as long as you’ve pled guilty or no-contest).
Depending on your case’s circumstances, the prosecution will likely offer a plea bargain to avoid taking the case to trial. If a deal is reached, the case can conclude at the pre-trial conference. The prosecutor will recommend a punishment based on the circumstances of your case.
If you refuse to take the plea bargain during the pre-trial conference or you’ve pled not guilty at arraignment, your case will go to trial. The pre-trial conference typically takes place 4-6 weeks before the trial begins.
If your case goes to trial, your criminal defense lawyer will use this time to investigate your case further, exchange information with the prosecutor’s office, hire experts (if needed), and prepare your defense strategy.
During the trial, the district attorney’s office will present evidence against you (i.e., first-hand and eyewitness testimony, police reports, pictures, video, relevant medical records, etc.). Your lawyer will also present evidence that proves your innocence or shows that the prosecution doesn’t have enough evidence to convict you.
Potential Defenses To Domestic Violence Charges
It’s important to remember that domestic violence charges must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” to lead to a conviction. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer could use a variety of defenses against the charges. The most common include:
- Accidental Harm: Domestic violence is an act of intentional harm perpetrated against the accuser. However, in some cases, accidental injuries can happen. For example, suppose the defendant and their spouse were arguing, and immediately afterward, the defendant lost their balance, and accidentally knocked the accuser into the wall. They may not be criminally liable for any injuries sustained.
- False Allegations: Unfortunately, many Las Vegas domestic violence charges are based on deception and falsehoods. Suppose your lawyer uncovers evidence proving the accuser is lying about the abuse claims or has inflicted injuries upon themselves to “prove” the defendant’s guilt. In that case, it’s likely the charges will be dropped or reduced.
- Self-Defense: If the defendant was attacked by the alleged victim first and “fought back” because they reasonably believed they or someone else was in immediate danger, they may be protected by Nevada self-defense laws. Self-defense would only be a viable defense if the act of defending yourself was not excessive and appropriate for the situation.
How To Get Domestic Violence Charges Reduced In Las Vegas
It’s not easy to get domestic violence charges reduced in Nevada. However, a skilled criminal defense lawyer has many tactics at their disposal that can potentially lead to reduced charges. Some of the most common strategies for reducing domestic violence charges include:
- Identifying weaknesses in the prosecution’s case
- Negotiating with the prosecution to reduce charges in lieu of the defendant completing counseling courses and staying out of trouble
- Other more creative strategies based on the circumstances of your case
Domestic violence charges can’t be reduced in Nevada if you plead guilty or no-contest to the charges.
What If The Alleged Victim Wants To Drop the Charges?
Nevada takes a unique approach to domestic violence cases. It is one of a few states that don’t allow alleged domestic abuse victims to “drop charges.”
The only way charges can be dropped is if the prosecution decides to do so based on the evidence or lack of evidence presented. Even if the alleged victim refuses to testify, a judge can order them to. If they still refuse, they may face criminal charges.
Will A Domestic Violence Conviction Impact Child Custody?
Potentially, yes. Family court judges make child custody decisions based on the best interest of the child. Depending on the circumstances of your domestic violence case, they may decide the defendant is a danger to the child and restrict their access. This is especially true if you’re convicted of domestic violence against your child or co-parent to your child.
Can I Get My Record Sealed?
If you are arrested but not convicted of domestic violence charges, you can begin the record sealing process one year after the arrest. If your charges are dropped, then you can start the process of sealing your arrest record immediately after your case concludes.
Defendants convicted of domestic violence charges face a more arduous process. If convicted of a misdemeanor offense, you must wait seven years after the case is closed to start the record sealing process. If you’re convicted of a felony, you must wait at least ten years to be eligible to seal your records.
Requests for record seals are left up to a judge’s discretion. While rare, they can deny your request or require you to wait longer than the suggested time before you’re eligible. To learn more about record sealing, click here.
Charged With Domestic Violence In Las Vegas? Contact Us Today
A domestic violence conviction can not only lead to jail time, fines, loss of certain rights, etc., but it can also tarnish your reputation. The good news is that domestic violence charges don’t always lead to convictions. Working with an experienced and proven criminal defense lawyer in Las Vegas can profoundly impact the outcome of your case.
If you’ve been charged with domestic violence, representing yourself or being underrepresented can be catastrophic. Don’t risk your future when you don’t have to.
Our team of skilled criminal defense attorneys and paralegals will fight to ensure you get the least amount of penalties possible under the circumstances. Contact us or give us a call at 702-707-7000 for your free initial consultation today.