Typically, a first or second domestic battery offense in Nevada is a misdemeanor. However, the law enumerates five different instances when the crime can be a felony. Elevated charges may arise when a person is accused of a subsequent violation and/or aggravating factors were present at the time of the offense.
Because felonies are considered more serious than misdemeanors, anyone charged with felony domestic battery faces harsher penalties. The increased sentences include incarceration in prison instead of jail, longer periods of imprisonment, and higher fines.
This blog will explore the various situations where felony charges may be levied for domestic battery. But before doing that, let's discuss what the crime entails.
What Is Domestic Battery?
Domestic battery is a violent offense committed upon a person with whom the alleged offender has an intimate relationship.
Under NRS 33.018, intimate relationships include those involving:
- Former spouses,
- Persons related by blood or marriage,
- Persons who are living together,
- Persons who have or had a dating relationship,
- Persons who share a child, and
- Parents of a minor child.
The conduct involved in domestic battery is not different from that involved in a regular battery offense – "willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another" (NRS 200.481(1)(a)). Still, a specific statute exist for domestic battery to emphasize that harm committed against a family or household member or dating partner is not solely a personal matter. It is an act that law enforcement officials can prosecute.
The Standard Penalties for Domestic Battery
As noted earlier, generally, the first or second time someone is accused of domestic battery, they can be charged with a misdemeanor.
If they are convicted, they could face the following penalties:
- First violation:
- 2 to 6 days in jail
- 48 to 120 hours of community service
- $200 to $1000 in fines
- Second violation within 7 years:
- 20 days to 6 months in jail
- 100 to 200 hours of community service
- $500 to $1,000 in fines
The Penalties for Felony-Level Domestic Battery
When domestic violence goes from a misdemeanor to a felony offense, the conviction penalties substantially increase.
Below are the charges that can arise for domestic battery committed under certain circumstances:
Category B felony
A few situations exist in which domestic battery can be charged at this level. They include:
- A third offense within 7 years
- A second offense committed against someone the alleged offender knew or should have reasonably known was pregnant
- Causing substantial bodily injury – Nevada law defines substantial bodily injury as harm creating "a substantial risk of death, or causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ" (NRS 0.060).
The penalties include 1 to 6 years of imprisonment and $1,000 to $5,000 in fines.
Another situation exists where domestic battery can be charged as a category B felony. However, it was not included in the list above because the penalties for the offense are greater. Thus, we list it separately for clarity's sake.
The fourth instance is when the alleged offender has a previous conviction for a felony domestic violence offense or battery domestic violence with a deadly weapon, regardless of when the prior offense occurred.
When these factors are present, the penalties increase to 2 to 15 years of imprisonment and $2,000 to $5,000 in fines.
Category C Felony
A person could be charged with a category C felony if they commit the domestic battery offense by strangulation. NRS 200.481(1)(i) defines strangulation as impeding someone's breath or blood circulation by choking them or covering their nose or mouth. Additionally, such conduct must place the individual at "risk of death or substantial bodily harm."
The penalties for the offense include 1 to 5 years of imprisonment and a fine of not more than $10,000.
The Criminal Process for Domestic Battery Offenses
Regardless of the circumstances, Nevada takes domestic battery crimes seriously. As such, whether the acts involved constitute a misdemeanor- or felony-level offense, an officer who has probable cause to believe that a violation occurred must arrest the alleged offender. Additionally, they cannot be released from jail until 12 hours have passed since their arrest.
Anyone accused of domestic battery may also be subject to a temporary or permanent protection order. The order can place various limitations on the individual's life even though they have not been convicted of a crime. Also, a temporary protection order can be issued without the person named in it being notified.
Discuss Your Case with an Attorney
Whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony domestic battery offense in Reno, you are facing severe consequences. But do not let the possible penalties discourage you from taking an aggressive stand in your case. With the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you can seek to avoid or minimize the potential punishments.
To learn more about your legal options for challenging the accusations made against you, reach out to the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Stover. Backed by more than 25 years of legal experience, we have the knowledge and skills necessary to seek a favorable result for you.
Schedule a free consultation by calling us at (775) 502-1575 or contacting us online today.