Definition of Domestic Violence
Changes in domestic violence statutes in the last several decades have left us with the following broad definition: “a violent confrontation that occurs between family members or between people who live together or between people in a dating relationship.” It can be charged between a father and a daughter/son, a mother and a daughter/son, and an adult child and an elderly parent. However, it most often is charged between a man and a woman living together, married or not.
Misdemeanor or Felony
Generally, if the battery did not involve a weapon, such as a knife or a gun, or the injuries did not result in permanent physical damage, then the crime is classified as a misdemeanor. The maximum possible penalty for a misdemeanor is a $1,000.00 fine and/or 180 days in jail.
Misdemeanors that occur within a city or municipality are prosecuted by the city attorney’s office. Batteries with weapons or serious injury are felonies. The district attorney’s office of the county prosecutes all felony cases and some misdemeanor cases that occur outside of the city’s border.
Why Were Charges Filed Against You?
The police officers, who responded to the place where the incident occurred, believed that a crime had been committed. If the officers believed that a battery had been committed, they must make a police report for the incident. If possible, the officers must also arrest the person who they believed battered the other individual within 24 hours of the battery. That person must spend a minimum of 12 hours in jail before he or she can be released. If the officers are not able to arrest the person who they believed committed the battery, they must submit the appropriate paperwork to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) Domestic Violence Unit. Detectives review the reports and evidence and submit the case for possible prosecution. Other police reports, such as a violation of protective orders, a destruction of private property, or stalking or harassment, may also be submitted to the LVMPD Domestic Violence Unit’s detectives for evidence review and possible prosecution.
Testifying in Court
You only have to testify in court if you receive a properly served subpoena ordering you to appear in court to testify in a trial. Be aware that unless you promise to appear in court over the telephone, you don’t have to appear and testify unless you are handed a subpoena. The following are the steps explaining the court process for the typical municipal court case:
Arraignment: When a criminal complaint has been filed against the defendant, he or she is ordered to go to court. He or she will be informed of the charges against him or her and must enter a plea of either “guilty”, “no contest” (“nolo contendere”), or “not guilty”.
Pretrial Conference: If you have an attorney, you may not have to appear at the pretrial conference. At the pretrial, the prosecutor will offer to recommend a particular sentence to the judge in exchange for a “guilty” or “no contest” (“nolo contendere”) plea from the defendant. The recommendation will be based on the seriousness of the crime, the defendant’s prior history, and input received from the witnesses, including the victim. If the defendant refuses the prosecution’s offer at the pretrial, then a date is set for trial. It is important for you to know that if you hire an attorney to represent you, you do not have to attend the arraignment or pretrial.
Trial: Once the trial date is set, the victim and other witnesses will be subpoenaed to testify in court. Trials for misdemeanors in the city courts will be in front of a judge without a jury. The prosecutor will present evidence to show that you are guilty of committing the crime with which you are charged. This evidence may include the testimony of the victim; testimony of independent witnesses, including police officers and photographs; medical records; and 911 tapes. You can present testimony and evidence. The judge will hear the evidence and then decide if you are guilty or not guilty.
Sentencing: If you are found guilty of domestic violence battery, the judge will decide the appropriate sentence within the guidelines established by Nevada Revised Statute (N.R.S.). The sentence will include jail time, community service, fines, and counseling. Sentencing guidelines are also broken into levels for first and second domestic violence offenses being misdemeanors, while third or more offenses are felonies.
Dropping Domestic Violence Charges
The person making the accusation is not the one who filed the charges against you. The city or district attorney is the one who makes the decision to drop charges and every city attorney’s office policy and N.R.S. prohibit dismissal unless the prosecutor is unable to prove the defendant guilty of committing the crime.
Do not fight your domestic violence charge alone.
Contact us now and receive helpful legal counseling from Robert L. Langford & Associates located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Attorney Robert L. Langford represents clients facing a domestic violence misdemeanor or a domestic violence felony and works hard to minimize the impact of these charges.