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Whether the person calling 911 wants their significant other to go to jail or not, the police already know, before they even arrive, that they are arresting someone. For the police, it is just a matter of who it will be.

If you were arrested for domestic violence, battery causing substantial bodily harm, battery domestic violence, or battery domestic violence with strangulation in the state of Nevada, it is important to seek out the services of a qualified criminal defense attorney, as it is important to fetter out all of the nuances involved in an arrest of battery constituting domestic violence.

With very little to no investigation on what actually happens, the police just want to remove the “primary physical aggressor” and leave.

Why an arrest occurs in a domestic violence situation?

When a police officer in Nevada responds to a domestic violence call, the law requires the officer to arrest someone, even if the physical contact is minuscule. In particular, NRS 171.137(1) states that a police officer must “arrest a person when the peace officer has probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has, within the preceding 24 hours, committed a battery upon his or her domestic partner.”

Subsection 2 of NRS 171.137 deals with mutual battery in domestic violence. Mutual battery occurs when two domestic partners use physical force on each other. NRS 171.137(2) states that in the case of mutual battery, the police officer must determine whom the primary physical aggressor because the primary aggressor must go to jail. According to the statute, the officer is not required to arrest the person who is not the primary aggressor.

Does it matter who hits first?

The primary physical aggressor is not always the person who hits first, but the person who causes the greater injury. Beyond relative physical injury, in determining who the primary physical aggressor is, officers will consider prior domestic violence arrests and any other factor they might think is relevant.

The statute NRS 171.137(1) says a police officer can decide not to arrest anyone if mitigating circumstances exist, which means the law does not require the officer to make an arrest if he or she does not think it is necessary. In theory, this sounds like a major exception, especially since the statute is titled “Arrest required for suspected battery constituting domestic violence.”

However, Las Vegas Police officers rarely, if ever, seem to think mitigating circumstances exist—even when the alleged battery is minor, the alleged batterer has no criminal record, and the alleged victim does not want the arrest to happen.

Can Domestic Violence Charges be dropped After Being Filed?

Once the police are called in a domestic violence case, and the district attorney or another prosecuting agency decides to file charges, there is generally nothing the alleged victim can say or do to make the police or prosecutor believe that the charges are exaggerated.

With very few exceptions, when an alleged victim admits to giving a false statement to the police, the police and district attorney will almost always believe that the alleged victim is lying to protect the defendant.

If you have been charged with domestic violence, you should not count on having your charges dismissed just because the alleged victim does not want to press charges.

A prosecutor, and sometimes even a Judge, believes allegations of domestic violence are nothing more than a “gateway” to a domestic violence murder. The Nevada Legislature even took most of the discretion out of the hands of the executive branch, the prosecutor, and ordered them to vigorously pursue any domestic violence charge.

It is believed, by the government, that without the help of the government’s prosecutors the defendant will continue to batter the alleged victim. Because of this all-encompassing belief that all domestic violence cases will eventually result in horrific results, the law often brings in couples that have absolutely no history, no injuries, and no desire to have the government regulate their relationship. With this wide-reaching law, a defendant must take any accusation of domestic violence very seriously. It is important to seek out the services of a qualified criminal defense attorney that can navigate the criminal justice system.


The criminal defense attorneys in Las Vegas, Nevada at Law Office of Joel M. Mann represent clients that have restraining order violations, domestic battery charge, including battery causing substantial bodily harm, battery domestic violence, and battery domestic violence with strangulation. Contact our offices at (702) 474-6266 to schedule an initial consultation, either in the office or on the phone.

Additional Resources

  • Nevada Domestic Violence Resource Manual – Read more about domestic violence laws, law enforcement, and prosecution in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • A Culture of Abuse – Read more about Nevada ranks among worst states for domestic violence
  • Safe Nest – Read more about how Safe Nest is Nevada’s largest and most comprehensive charity devoted solely to domestic violence issues.

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