Nevada, as in all other states, has what is called the statute of limitations that place deadlines on when the prosecution can file charges against a person alleged to have committed a crime. If they try to prosecute the matter outside of that time period, the case may be dismissed. The statute of limitations applies to felonies and misdemeanors, including assault. Whether or not you can be charged with an assault offense that occurred over 1 year ago depends on the circumstances of your case.
The Rationale Behind the Statute of Limitations
In criminal cases, for prosecution to convict you of an offense, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the alleged crime. This burden requires that the prosecutor present evidence in court that supports their allegations.
The evidence the prosecutor submits could include any number of things, such as eyewitness testimonies, blood samples, security camera footage, and documents. Over time, evidence can degrade, samples could get lost, and a witness could forget the details of the incident.
In the U.S., every person has the right to a fair trial. If your case is heard long after the alleged offense occurred, your constitutional protection could be violated because of problems with the prosecutor’s, or your evidence. That is where the statutes of limitations come in. These laws are a way to ensure your rights are upheld by not allowing a case to commence a while after the crime.
The deadline for beginning prosecution varies depending on the type or level of offense. In some circumstances, such as murder cases, there is no statute of limitations at all.
Here, we’ll just focus on the statute of limitations for assault.
What Is Considered Assault in Nevada?
In Nevada, if you try to use physical force against someone else, you could be accused of committing a crime. For example, attempting to punch someone but missing them is considered assault. Likewise, it is unlawful for you to intentionally make another person reasonably fear that you will cause them bodily harm, such as by pointing a gun at the individual.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Assault?
Generally, simple assault, an offense without the use of a deadly weapon, is charged as a misdemeanor. For instance, if Bob upset you and you tried to punch him in the face but he ducked out of the way, you’re facing a misdemeanor charge. If that alleged incident happened over 1 ½ years ago, can the state still prosecute that crime?
In this case, no. According to N.R.S. 171.090(2), the complaint for a misdemeanor offense such as assault must be commenced within a year of the incident.
However, if Bob was a police officer and you knew that, then the state could file charges against you even if the offense occurred over a year ago.
Why? Because the offense becomes a gross misdemeanor when it’s committed against any of the following while they’re performing their official duties:
- Health care provider
- School employee
- Taxicab driver
- Transit operator
- Sports official
The prosecution can commence within 2 years of the alleged offense.
The state has even longer still for felonies. Assault becomes a felony when a deadly weapon is used. That means if you pointed a gun at Bob and he feared you would harm him, the prosecutor can start a case against you up to 3 years later.
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