Let's face it there's tons of information available on the internet about domestic violence charges and not all of it is reliable or even helpful.
And...being involved in a domestic violence criminal case can be scary and feel overwhelming.
In this article, we attempt to answer your most frequently asked questions about domestic violence charges in Nevada. By the time you are done reading, you should have an understanding of what constitutes domestic violence, what happens when someone is arrested for domestic violence, how long the process will take for criminal charges and what you can expect to pay a lawyer to represent you in a domestic violence case.
So...keep reading below for more answers to your most frequently asked domestic violence questions.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence is abuse inflicted upon a spouse or former spouse, an intimate partner (boyfriend or girlfriend) or former intimate partner, a cohabiting elder or child, or upon the other parent of a shared child. Abuse is causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, intentionally or accidentally, sexual assault and/or molestation, and violating a Restraining Order. Domestic Violence and Spousal Abuse can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.
When the police arrived the situation had calmed down. Why was someone arrested?
Nevada law requires that the police make an arrest where probable cause exists to do so. As long as the police arrive within 24 hours of receiving notice of an incident of domestic violence there is a good chance an arrest will be made. It is possible an arrest can be made even after 24 hours if there are enough witness statements for the police to have probable cause to arrest the aggressor.
What happens after being arrested for a domestic violence offense in Nevada?
The police officers who were called to the scene will write detailed domestic violence police reports, obtain witness statements, run a criminal background check on the person arrested for domestic violence, and conduct further investigation of the domestic case.
The police forward written reports to the prosecutor’s office and may present the case in a meeting where a prosecutor will determine whether or not to formally file domestic violence criminal charges.
What if the person who said they were a victim of domestic violence changes their mind and doesn't want to press charges against me?
Unfortunately, once domestic violence has been reported to law enforcement, the prosecutor will aggressively pursue the case. This is true even if the victim later tries to deny that the event or incident occurred. What this means is that it is no longer up to the victim to decide whether or not to pursue charges.
I don't understand why I was arrested. The victim had no physical injuries. Can I still be charged with domestic violence in Nevada?
The answer is yes.
In Nevada, domestic violence is more than physical injuries. It can include emotional abuse and using power and control over a victim. Verbal or emotional spouse abuse coupled with threats of violence can also result in a conviction.
Think of it this way, in Nevada pushing, pulling hair, or severe shaking, can be considered a battery. These incidents may not leave marks, but they are enough to charge a criminal case for domestic violence.
What defenses do I have if I am charged with domestic violence in Nevada?
Our office wrote an extensive article about getting domestic violence charges reduced or dismissed. You can check out that article here: Tips for Getting Domestic Violence Charges Reduced or Dismissed.
In general, what you should know is that circumstances vary from case to case requiring different defense strategies. However some defenses that may be available include self-defense, insufficient evidence, factual innocence and matters of jurisdiction.
What if the victim wants to testify for me if I am charged with domestic violence?
The answer to this one is tricky and having the victim testify could cause more harm than good. Many questions will arise in the prosecutor's mind including whether or not the victim is being further threatened or is under the control of the person charged with domestic violence. In such a case, this could lead to additional charges against the aggressor.
Testifying by the victim on behalf of the aggressor can also result in the victim being charged with a crime. Prosecutors will often tell a victim that if they change their story or offer to testify for the defendant that the victim will be charged with making false reports to police or perjury.
Finally, if children are involved and there has been a pattern of domestic violence where the victim refuses to cooperate, the prosecutor may get CPS involved and claim that the home is not safe for children due to the victim's failure to protect the children from incidents of domestic violence.
Before announcing to the prosecutor that the victim is willing to testify for the defendant, you should consult with an experienced domestic violence attorney to discuss all of your options.
How long will my domestic violence case take?
A domestic violence can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years depending on the severity of the case and the number of prior charges. It also depends whether the case is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. It is important to remember that even after the case is adjudicated, it may remain open for lengthy period of time to make sure you have done everything you need to do to meet the terms of your sentencing.
What if I am not a U.S. Citizen and I am charged with domestic violence?
If you are not a U.S. citizen and have been accused of a domestic violence offense or arrested for a domestic violence charge, you may be deported from the United States. For that reason and many others it is extremely important that you are represented by a qualified domestic violence defense attorney and fight the domestic violence charges.
The police took my guns. Can I get them back if I am charged with domestic violence?
It is possible to get your guns back if you have been charged with domestic violence. You will need a court order to have the guns returned to you. This means a motion will have to be filed explaining to the judge why you need your guns back immediately.
Should I hire an attorney for my domestic violence case in Nevada?
The answer is yes. Whether you hire an attorney or whether you are appointed a public defender, having qualified and experienced legal representation for your Nevada domestic violence charges is essential. And...you should obtain legal representation from the start of your case.
Just a few words on private attorneys versus public defenders...we love public defenders and in certain circumstances our office acts as public defenders. It is important to remember that while the law guarantees you a right to an attorney, you must first prove that you are financially unable to hire an attorney to get a public defender. If the judge believes you can afford a lawyer, you will not get the benefit of a public defender.
If a Public Defender Attorney is assigned to your case, though capable, it most likely will be one of many on his or her case list. Retaining your own experienced attorney will usually mean your case receives more personal attention, a more thorough investigation and more time will go into building the best defense possible.
How much will it cost to hire you to represent me?
It depends. And we know you hate this answer, but it is true.
Every domestic violence case is different and the cost of legal representation depends on the specific circumstances of your case.
In general, you can expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $50,000 depending on the severity of the charges, the number of prior convictions, whether or not the case is charged as a felony or misdemeanor, whether or not you will need to hire an expert witness, how long a trial is expected to take and how many witnesses there will be to testify on either side of the case.
At Rosenblum Law Offices we are experienced and knowledgeable about all aspects of domestic violence law. We have tried hundreds of cases to verdict and received several not guilty verdicts for our clients. For more information about our most recent cases, consider our Results which can be found here: News & Events.
If you liked this article, please leave us a comment below. If you have questions about a domestic violence case or wish to schedule a consultation with our office, call us today at (702) 433-2889 or fill out our on-line form.