In a landmark decision, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that individuals charged with misdemeanor battery domestic violence are entitled to jury trials. Typically, non-felony offenses penalized by incarceration of 6 months or less are heard and decided only by a judge. However, the Justices said that the consequences of domestic violence are severe enough that cases should be presented in front of a panel of jurors.
Loss of Gun Rights Make the Offense Serious
The Justices referred to a 2015 law that changed the punishments for a battery domestic violence conviction. If a person is found guilty of this offense, they are stripped of their Second Amendment right to bear arms. The Nevada Supreme Court said that because the alleged offender faces such a penalty, the crime is increased from “petty” to serious, and the defendant has the right to request a jury trial.
Case Leading Up to Supreme Court Decision
The rule change came after a Nevada man was charged with misdemeanor battery domestic violence. Before his trial, he asked that a jury hear his case, but the court denied his request. He was convicted of the offense.
The man appealed the decision because he was denied the right to a jury trial. The matter was taken to the Nevada Supreme Court, which unanimously decided that the trial court erred in its ruling.
Effects of Jury Trials
Allowing jury trials for misdemeanor battery domestic violence could be beneficial for a defendant. Rather than having one person determine the outcome of the case, a panel of community members will decide. Multiple people will weigh the evidence and deliberate before reaching a verdict.
The new rule could also create issues within the courts. In 2017, over 30,000 battery domestic violence incidents were reported in Nevada. For those cases that go to trial, a great number of resources would need to be used to select and accommodate jurors. Many courts might not be equipped for jury trials and would need to dip into their budgets to make changes. This could result in many cases being settled with plea bargains as opposed to verdicts.
Schedule a Free Consultation with the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Stover
If you’ve been accused of committing an offense, our attorney is ready to provide the effective counsel you need. Backed by over 20 years practicing law and experience as a prosecutor, we know how to build innovative strategies to challenge the evidence against you. We understand that there are two sides to every story, and the charges could be the result of false allegations. By thoroughly preparing for your case, we will work toward a favorable result on your behalf.
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