Domestic Violence 101 – Laws, Facts and Information

Domestic violence implicates a wider range of offenses beyond simple battery. Acts which constitute this type of crime include any of the following:

o A battery;
o An assault;
o Compelling the other by force or threat of force to perform an act from which she has the right to refrain or to refrain from an act which she has the right to perform;
o A sexual assault;
o A false imprisonment;
o Unlawful entry of the other’s residence, or forcible entry against the other’s will if there is a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm to the other from the entry;
o A knowing, purposeful or reckless course of conduct intended to harass the other including, but is not limited to:

(1) Stalking.

(2) Arson.

(3) Trespassing.

(4) Larceny.

(5) Destruction of private property.

(6) Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

(7) Injuring or killing an animal.

As stated in the Nevada Revised Statutes, domestic violence includes a much broader range of offenses than simple battery. This crime can also include an unlawful entry into the alleged victim’s residence or other harassing conduct.

A person convicted of a first offense of domestic violence in Nevada must be sentenced to a minimum of two days jail time, and a maximum of six months jail time, in the Clark County Detention Center. A person convicted of a first offense also must be sentenced to 48 hours, but not more than 120 hours, of community service. Additionally, a first offense of this crime carries a fine of up to $1,000, and requires up to 6 months of counseling.

A second offense of domestic violence within a seven year period carries a minimum of 10 days jail time, 100 hours of community service, and a year of Las Vegas counseling specific to the crime.

A third domestic violence offense within seven years is punishable as a Category “C” felony and carries a mandatory prison sentence of up to 5 years. In other words, if convicted of a third domestic violence offense within seven years of the first conviction for a domestic violence offense, the District Court Judge must, under Nevada law, sentence you to mandatory prison time in Nevada State Prison.

Unfortunately, under the Nevada revised Statutes, a prosecutor lacks discretion in dismissing or reducing domestic violence charges unless your attorney can uncover a legal or factual problem with the case and demonstrate clearly that the case cannot be readily proven.

According to the Nevada Revised Statutes, NRS 200.485(7), if a person is charged with committing a battery, a prosecuting attorney “shall not” dismiss such a charge, or plead down the charge to a lesser charge or for any other reason unless the prosecutor knows, or it is obvious, that the charge is not supported by probable cause or cannot be proven at trial.

The above language, combined with the often overzealous prosecution of these cases by prosecutors, is a recipe for disaster. Prosecutors who handle domestic violence cases in Las Vegas have very little discretion. Often common sense takes a backseat to an overzealous Clark County Prosecutor’s desire to obtain a serious domestic violence conviction for what could have been handled in a more effective and lenient fashion. Not every Battery case needs to result in a conviction. Oftentimes, the police arrive at an incident, don’t get the right facts, arrest the wrong person, and refer a case for prosecution which should not have been submitted to the Clark County District Attorney’s Office. As someone who is charged with Domestic Violence in Las Vegas, you need to look for ways to protect yourself and have your side of the story represented fairly and aggressively. Otherwise, you will in all probability, pay high penalties, be forced to attend mandatory weekly counseling, and most significantly, serve jail time.

Nine Issues Regarding Domestic Violence in 2009

Domestic violence is on the rise, especially with people losing their jobs, losing their incomes, and facing a drastic reduction in lifestyle as is happening too frequently in ’09. The following are nine issues to consider with regard to domestic violence:

9. Domestic violence consists of physical abuse, and if there is physical abuse, call the police at once.

8. Domestic violence includes using economic abuse. This can include preventing someone from getting, keeping, or leaving a job, damaging someone’s credit rating, making a spouse ask for money, destroying checkbooks, credit cards, money or property, giving a spouse an allowance. Domestic violence can include using coercion or threats. Threats are statements which promise negative consequences for certain behaviors or actions; for example, I’ll kill you if you ever leave me.”

7. Using intimidation. Making a spouse or significant other afraid by using looks, actions, gestures, intoxication, silent treatment, smashing things, destroying property, harming pets, displaying weapons, yelling, stalking, slamming doors, driving recklessly, acting crazy, invincible, or like I have nothing to lose.

6. Using emotional abuse. Putting someone down, making someone feel bad about themself, calling someone names, making someone think she’s crazy, playing mind games, humiliating someone, making her feel guilty, using things that matter to her against her, negatively comparing her to others, expecting perfection, unreasonable demands or expectations.

5. Using others. Using the children to relay messages. Using visitation to harass someone. Threatening to take the children away. Using custody of the children as leverage. Abusing the children. Sexual abuse of the children. Kidnapping the children. Degrading the spouse or significant other about her relationships. Using your job, friends, family, religion as leverage.

4. Using isolation. Controlling someone’s access to resources such as birth control, reproductive choice, medical attention, money, education, employment opportunities, family, friends, transportation, phone use. Using jealousy to justify actions. Embarrassing her in front of others. Kidnapping her. Convincing her that seeing her family or friends is harmful to the relationship.

3. If any of these occur, even when there is no police involvement, seek domestic violence counseling. There are domestic violence counselors and counseling agencies throughout the United States. There are hotlines to handle crisis calls.

2. Obtain a personal protection order. Laws in Michigan and many other states include personal protection orders that can be obtained if you are fearful of physical violence from someone and have a factual basis with previous incidents for your concerns. A personal protection order is a court order prohibiting a person from any, some, or all of the following, including: assaulting, stalking, following, entering the property, removing minor children, threatening to kill or physically injure someone, interfering with someone at his or her place of employment, purchasing or owning a fire arm.

1. Talk to an attorney at once. Find out what your legal rights are, and find out what you can do to protect yourself. If there is a need for a divorce, make sure that you are fully protected because a divorce where there is domestic violence is handled in a much more discreet and careful manner than a normal divorce where everyone is on the same page. Over the years in my career, I have had people murdered and horribly, physically and emotionally abused, based upon domestic violence. I take it very seriously. Make sure that your attorney not only has a background in family law, but is also familiar with issues in domestic violence.