People who are facing misdemeanor domestic violence charges in Nevada have now been granted the right to a jury trial, thanks to a recent Nevada Supreme Court ruling. The change will raise the bar for prosecutors, who now must convince an entire jury of a defendant’s guilt rather than a single judge.
Until now, misdemeanor domestic violence was considered a “petty” offense in Nevada, meaning defendants did not have a right to a trial by jury. However, in 2015, state lawmakers approved a bill that prohibited people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from possessing or owning a firearm. This additional layer of punishment elevated the charge from a petty offense to a serious one, the Supreme Court decided, giving such defendants the right to a jury trial.
What Did the Supreme Court Decide?
The case was brought by Christopher Anderson, of Las Vegas, who was originally denied the right to a jury trial at the municipal court level and pleaded no contest to domestic battery. Anderson appealed to the district court, arguing that he was erroneously denied the right to a trial by jury. The district court denied his appeal, and so Anderson appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court noted in its ruling:
“Because our statutes now limit the right to bear arms for a person who has been convicted of misdemeanor battery constituting domestic violence, the Legislature has determined that the offense is a serious one. And given this new classification of the offense, a jury trial is required.”
Misdemeanor domestic violence is a common charge, one that many people face without realizing the severity of the consequences of a conviction. In fact, one state report noted that more than 30,000 people were arrested on domestic violence offenses in 2017, according to The Nevada Independent. Of those, 21,000 were arrested in Clark County.
Although with the help of a qualified criminal defense lawyer, many defendants can fight to have domestic violence charges reduced or dismissed, there are cases that must be argued at trial. By affording these defendants the right to trial by jury, the court is recognizing the severe consequences of a conviction and ensuring the process is as fair as possible.
Are Your Facing a Domestic Battery Charge? Talk to a Lawyer Now
If you or a loved one has been arrested on a domestic violence charge and need advice on how this new Supreme Court ruling could affect your case, please contact the Law Office of Joel M. Mann now. Our dedicated domestic battery defense attorney can review the specifics of your case, answer all of your questions, and help you map out a strong defense strategy.
Our Las Vegas criminal defense law firm argues cases at both the trial and appellate level, and we know what it takes to put up an effective defense before a jury. Call us or contact us online today to schedule your free case consultation, and find out how we can help you fight for your future.