You’ve seen it on television before. A man sits in a jail cell, charged with domestic violence after a heated argument with his girlfriend. A few days later, she calls the police station and says she wants the charges dropped. And just like that, he is released. Case closed. All is erased.
That won’t happen if you’re accused of domestic violence in Las Vegas. Nevada law (NRS 200.485) says that once you are charged with battery domestic violence, no one except the prosecutor has the power to drop the charges against you – no matter what the alleged victim says. You can hope that the district attorney will take the alleged victim’s wishes into consideration, but be prepared that the case will probably proceed anyway.
Why Can’t the Domestic Violence Charges Las Vegas Be Dropped?
If you’re confused about why charges won’t just go away, you’re not alone. Nevada takes cases of domestic violence seriously. According to the National Coalition for Domestic Violence, the state consistently ranks as first in the nation for domestic violence fatalities.
But if you’re wrongly accused, it’s terrifying to think that a recanted statement isn’t enough to have domestic violence charges dropped. A prosecutor may still pursue a conviction if he or she believes that:
- The alleged victim is too scared to go through with the process.
- The victim is financially dependent and cannot afford for the accused to be in jail.
- He or she is scared of retaliation by family or friends.
- He or she wants to reconcile with the accused.
Know that if a person makes the call, there are few chances of getting the domestic violence charges dropped just because the person reporting changes their mind.
That said, just because a district attorney decides to go ahead with a case doesn’t mean the charges will stick, or you will be convicted. That’s why it is important to contact a domestic violence criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. There are very reasonable defenses that can result in a dismissal or an acquittal, but if you act without consulting a lawyer, you may make an error that could have consequences that last a lifetime.
I’ve Been Accused of Domestic Violence in Nevada. What Defenses Can a Lawyer Use to Help Me?
In a domestic violence investigation, there are many ways that a case can go haywire.
As soon as police respond to a domestic violence call, Nevada law NRS 171.137 mandates that someone must be arrested (unless mitigating circumstances exist) if the officer has probable cause to believe domestic violence has occurred in the previous 24 hours. The officers decide who’s going to be arrested by trying to identify the primary physical aggressor. That’s not necessarily the person who threw the first punch. It’s whoever, in the officers’ judgment, caused the greatest physical harm.
There’s the first spot for a potential error. What if the police arrest the wrong person as the primary physical aggressor? That could set off a whole chain of erroneous assumptions that results in someone being charged with a crime they didn’t commit. A domestic violence criminal defense lawyer can pinpoint those judgment errors by collecting evidence to show that initial assessments of the situation were inaccurate from the very start. Usually, other flaws emerge that an attorney can use to weaken the prosecution’s case.
Other defenses that could successfully result in dropped or reduced charges include:
- Self-defense: You are permitted to fight back if you have the reasonable belief that it is the only way to prevent bodily harm or death to you or someone else. You should only use enough force to escape safely, though.
- Accidental or Self-Inflicted Injury: When emotions escalate, people aren’t typically sitting still. In the chaos of an angry altercation, it’s possible to unintentionally use physical force on someone else. For example, someone’s head could get knocked against a wall when another person rushes past them to leave the room. An attorney could also find an expert to evaluate the alleged victim’ injuries to determine whether they were self-inflicted.
- False Accusations: In many cases, people are wrongly accused of battery domestic violence when angry partners act out of spite or exaggerate the situation. You may also see this scenario happen in child custody battles, where one partner wants to convince a judge that the other is unfit to care for their kids because he or she is physically dangerous.
Questions to Ask a Las Vegas Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Attorney
There is a lot at stake if you are convicted of a domestic violence offense in Nevada. Aside from fines and jail sentences that get progressively worse depending on the severity and frequency of the offenses, you also may find yourself:
- Unable to see your children
- Without a job or having difficulty finding employment
- Denied the right to own a gun
- Facing immigration problems
- Living with a damaged reputation.
Getting a lawyer who can eliminate or minimize the damage is crucial. Ask these questions when hiring a domestic violence criminal defense attorney:
- What is your experience with battery and domestic violence cases in Nevada?
- What is the likelihood that the charges can be dropped or dismissed, given the circumstances of my case? (If they make you any promises, don’t hire them. No case is guaranteed, and it is unethical for a lawyer to assure you of any outcome.)
- What is my best-case scenario based on the facts? What’s the worst?
- How will you communicate with me throughout the duration of my case?
Get Experienced Legal Help Now to Fight Domestic Violence Charges in Las Vegas
As a seasoned criminal court trial veteran with 13 years of experience defending clients in domestic violence cases in Las Vegas, Clark County and surrounding areas, I understand that there are two sides to every story. I am prepared to provide dedicated representation by examining the facts, seeking the truth and making sure that your rights are protected along the way.
Don’t wait to begin preparing your defense. Contact the Law Office of Joel M. Mann today.