Nevada’s domestic violence laws protect persons from violent crimes committed by persons with whom the victims share certain domestic relationships. Nevada also provides protection to domestic violence victims by providing a system where victims can obtain court-issued protective orders.
Domestic Violence: Protected Parties & Prohibited Acts
Nevada domestic violence laws apply to current and former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who currently or formerly resided together, persons who are or were in a dating relationship, people who have a child in common, the minor child of any of these people, or a person appointed legal guardian for the minor child of any of these persons. Domestic violence occurs when one of the following offenses is committed between any of these persons:
- compelling the victim through force or threat to perform an act that the victim has a right to refuse performing, or compelling the victim through force or threat to refrain from performing an act that the victim has a right to perform
- sexual assault
- engaging in knowing, purposeful, or reckless conduct designed to harass the victim, including but not limited to stalking, arson, trespass, larceny, destruction of private property, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, or injuring or killing an animal
- false imprisonment, and
- unlawful entry into victim’s residence or forcible entry into the victim’s residence against the victim’s will, if there is a foreseeable risk of harm to the victim from the forcible entry.
(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 33.018)
A defendant convicted of a domestic violence battery is guilty of a misdemeanor if the defendant has no other domestic violence battery convictions within the previous seven years. Such conviction carries a minimum of two days in jail, 48 hours of community service, and a $200 fine, although the defendant may receive up to six months in jail, 120 hours of community service, and a $1,000 fine.
A conviction for a second domestic violence battery within a seven-year period is also considered a misdemeanor, but it carries a minimum sentence of ten days in jail, 100 community service hours, and a $500 fine; and a maximum sentence of six months in jail, 200 hours of community service, and a $1,000 fine. Defendants convicted of a first or second domestic violence battery within a seven-year period must also participate in domestic violence counseling. The defendant may also be required to pay the costs of counseling for a child under 18 years of age where the judge determines that the defendant’s crime necessitates such treatment for the child.
A defendant convicted of a third or subsequent conviction for domestic violence battery in a seven-year period is guilty of a Class C felony. Class C felonies carry a sentence range of one to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. A domestic violence battery is also punished as a Class C felony if it involves strangulation. Under such circumstances, the domestic violence battery carries up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Limited dismissal rights
Nevada law includes a very unusual requirement when it comes to how the prosecutor may handle a charged case. It prohibits the prosecutor from dismissing a domestic violence battery charge in exchange for a plea of guilty, guilty but mentally ill, or nolo contendere to a lesser charge or for any other reason other than an insufficiency of evidence. This means that plea bargains (to lesser offenses) are allowed only if the prosecutor can represent to the court that he does not have enough evidence to convince a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, of the defendant's guilt for original charge. He cannot offer the plea because other, more pressing cases deserve his attention, or because he thinks a lesser charge will send the defendant the right message.
(Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 193.130, 200.485)
A police officer is required to make an arrest of a person suspected of committing a domestic violence battery within the preceding 24 hours, regardless of whether the officer has a warrant. If two (or more) people accuse each other committing domestic violence battery, the officer is required to arrest only the person determined to be the primary aggressor.
(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 171.137)
Domestic Violence Protective Orders
A court may grant a temporary or extended order for protection against domestic violence where it appears from an application that an act of domestic violence occurred or a threat of domestic violence exists. The court can grant a temporary order without providing notice to the adverse party (that is, the person that the applicant seeks protection from), but it may also require the applicant and the adverse party to appear before the court prior to issuing an order. The court must notify the adverse party and conduct a hearing before granting an extended order.
(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 33.020)
A temporary order for protection against domestic violence may include any of the following provisions:
- prohibit the adverse party from threatening, harassing, or physically injuring the applicant or minor child
- exclude the adverse party from the applicant’s residence
- prohibit the adverse party from entering the residence, school , or workplace of the applicant or minor child and order the adverse party to stay away from any specified place frequented by them
- grant temporary custody of a minor child to the applicant, if the court has jurisdiction
- prohibit the adverse party from injuring, threatening to injure, or possessing an animal owned or in the possession of the adverse party, the applicant, or the minor child, and
- any other relief that the court determines is necessary in an emergency situation.
An extended order can contain any of the provisions that are permitted in temporary orders. Additionally, extended orders can contain provisions that:
- set child visitation terms
- specify terms for the possession and care of an animal
- require the adverse party to avoid or limit communication with the applicant or minor child
- order the adverse party to pay the rent or mortgage for the applicant’s residence
- order the adverse party to pay support for the applicant and minor child, if the applicant has the duty to do so, and
- require the applicant to pay costs incurred by the applicant in obtaining the protective order, including any lost earnings and expenses incurred by the applicant attending court hearings concerning the application for the extended order.
(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 33.030)
A person who violates a term of a temporary or extended order for protection against domestic violence commits a misdemeanor, unless the act constituting the violation carries a greater penalty under law.
(Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 125.560, 33.100)
Consult With An Attorney
If you are charged with committing a domestic violence crime or accused of domestic violence in a petition for a protective order, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. A conviction for a domestic violence offense carries potentially severe penalties, including the possibility of incarceration. A domestic violence protective order can limit your rights as a parent and property owner as well as limit your freedom of movement. An experienced attorney will provide important guidance will defending your rights.