While the holidays are often a joyous time of year in Las Vegas, they can also be a stressful time for families and friends. Households are bustling with more people than usual, budgets are squeezed due to extra gift and gas purchases, and the liquor may flow more freely during celebrations. Sometimes loosely spoken words under the wrong circumstances can cause disagreements that result in domestic violence charges.
In Nevada, police officers are required to investigate every domestic violence allegation and arrest who they believe is the primary aggressor. If you are charged, the consequences can be severe. Much of what you value in life could be in jeopardy – your freedom, job security and access to your children, to name a few. It is crucial to speak with an experienced domestic violence defense attorney before your court date to protect your rights.
Domestic Violence in Nevada
The sad reality is that Nevada does have a significant domestic violence problem, and it’s not just during the holidays. According to the most recent data, nearly 1,800 people from Nevada contacted the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help in 2015, with the majority reporting incidents ranging from verbal threats and degradation to hitting, biting or choking. The Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, which compiles data from 11 statewide member agencies, reported that there were more than 64,000 contacts that same year.
But it’s also true that events are sometimes misinterpreted, accidental or even exaggerated out of spite. Emotions run high during the holidays, and it’s not always clear what happens in domestic situations. A domestic violence defense attorney will listen to your side of the story without judgment and recommend the next best steps.
Nevada Domestic Violence Laws
According to Nevada law (NRS 33.018), domestic violence includes:
- Using or threatening force to make a person perform an act that they have a right to refuse
- Preventing a person, through force or threats of force, from doing something that they have a right to do
- Sexual abuse
- Spousal abuse
- Harassment (i.e., stalking, trespassing, destruction of property, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, among others)
- False imprisonment
- Unlawful entry into the alleged victim’s property
Misdemeanor domestic violence incidents that occur within the city of Las Vegas are handled by the City Attorney’s Office. The Clark County District Attorney’s Office prosecutes all felony and misdemeanor cases that occur outside of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City and Mesquite.
Why Should I Hire a Las Vegas Domestic Violence Defense Attorney?
Some people try to defend themselves in court without an attorney. Very few are successful, often getting tangled up by technicalities and legal loopholes that doom their chances from the start.
It’s important for you to contact a domestic violence defense lawyer because the Nevada justice system has special rules for how domestic abuse cases are prosecuted. By law (NRS 200.485), a prosecutor cannot dismiss a domestic violence battery charge in exchange for any kind of plea bargain. Nor can alleged victims change their minds and ask for charges to be dropped. Your best bet is to find a lawyer right away who can talk about possible defenses to save you from jail, steep fines and other penalties.
Every domestic violence case is unique. Some possible defenses could be:
- The allegations are false.
- You acted in self-defense.
- Any injuries were accidental.
- You are the wrong suspect.
- There is insufficient evidence.
- The police conducted an illegal search.
- The alleged victim’s wounds were self-inflicted.
The strategy that your Las Vegas domestic violence defense lawyer will recommend will be based on your account and any evidence the prosecutor has, which could include:
- Photographs of injuries
- Eyewitness testimony
- Victim testimony
- Medical records
- 911 calls
- Your own statements
- Your criminal history
Penalties for a Nevada Domestic Violence Conviction
If you are found guilty of a domestic abuse crime, the consequences will depend on the severity of the offense and your criminal background. A misdemeanor domestic violence battery charge is punishable by up to $1,000 and/or 180 days in jail. But if this is not your first or second offense or you are charged with a felony, the fines are steeper and you could face years behind bars.
A domestic abuse conviction may also limit your ability to see your children and could drastically impact any family court proceedings that may be underway. You could be ordered to get counseling, substance abuse treatment and may run into problems with your current or future employers.
Even if a conviction is inevitable, an experienced domestic violence defense attorney can argue for a reduced punishment, which could make a huge difference for you and your loved ones.
Manage Your Holiday Stress
Everyone has a breaking point. But nobody has to choose violence to express their anger. Sometimes all it takes to avoid a crisis are simple ways to manage conflict. Here are some tips to deal with holiday stress:
- Plan ahead. If you are going to be in awkward family situations, think about how you can avoid escalating tensions.
- Get some space if tempers are flaring. Go outside, take a walk or leave the premises if you feel the situation is getting out of hand.
- Acknowledge your own feelings. If you’re mad or sad, talk about it.
- Monitor your alcohol consumption and avoid using drugs.
- Carve out “quiet time” for yourself each day to do something that makes you happy, such as reading, listening to music or exercising.
- Practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques.
- Make sure that you get enough sleep.
- Go to support groups or seek professional help if you need it.
Need an Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer?
As a criminal defense attorney, I know that there are two sides to every story. I have been representing clients in domestic violence matters in Las Vegas, Clark County and the surrounding areas of Nevada for more than a decade. For more information on how I can help you, contact the Law Office of Joel M. Mann today.