Nevada Assault Laws and Penalties

Learn how Nevada defines assault crimes and their penalties, including when someone could face charges for assault with a deadly weapon.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated June 09, 2023

In Nevada, the crime of assault is an attempt to use physical force against another or to place another in fear of bodily harm. Assault doesn't involve actual physical contact. Physical contact with force or violence, such as punching another person or hitting someone with an object, is a battery.

Assault crimes start as misdemeanors in Nevada. Gross misdemeanor and felony penalties apply when the assault involves a protected class of victims or a deadly weapon.

What Is an Assault Crime in Nevada?

In Nevada, a person commits assault by:

  • unlawfully attempting to use physical force against another person, or
  • intentionally placing another person in fear of immediate bodily harm.

Attempting to batter, strike, push, or otherwise physically injure another is assault. For example, a person who takes a swing at someone during a heated argument but misses commits assault. Threatening to beat someone up, when said in a believable and threatening manner, can be criminal assault if the victim reasonably fears for their immediate safety.

The harshest penalties apply to situations where the person attempts to strike someone with a weapon or threatens to do so. Assault with a deadly weapon is a felony offense in Nevada.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.471 (2023).)

What Are the Penalties for Assault in Nevada?

The penalties for assault start as a misdemeanor. When an assault involves a protected victim, the penalties increase to a gross misdemeanor or felony.

Misdemeanor Assault

A person who is convicted of assault—without any other aggravating factors involved—faces a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are punishable by up to six months of jail time and a $1,000 fine.

Assault of a Protected Victim

Assault increases to a gross misdemeanor offense if the person targets an "officer," school employee, sports official, "health care provider," taxicab driver, or transit operator who's performing their duties. A conviction for a gross misdemeanor carries up to 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. If the defendant is an inmate, probationer, or parolee, the crime becomes a category D felony, punishable by one to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Officers. The term "officer" includes police officers, firefighters, correctional officers, prosecutors, judges, and government employees who make home visits.

"Health care providers" includes any employee or volunteer who provides health care services in the areas of medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, emergency services, ambulance services, pharmaceuticals, chiropractic care, homeopathy, optometry, psychiatry, social work, or counseling.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.471 (2023).)

What Are the Penalties for Assault With a Deadly Weapon in Nevada?

Assault becomes a category B felony when the defendant uses a deadly weapon or has the present ability to use a deadly weapon. This offense carries one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

A deadly weapon can be a gun, knife, brass knuckles, or any item or substance that can cause substantial bodily harm or death in the manner in which it's used. This might include a screwdriver, hammer, bat, crowbar, or a caustic substance like oven cleaner.

A person can commit assault with a deadly weapon by brandishing a knife or gun at someone and threatening them. It's also possible to commit assault with a deadly weapon by shooting a gun at someone and missing, or by running toward someone while trying to reach for their knife or another weapon.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.471 (2023).)

Additional Penalties for Assault Crimes in Nevada

Nevada law provides additional penalties when assault crimes involve vulnerable victims, hate crimes, or other aggravating factors. Additional penalties can double a defendant's sentence.

Some instances where a judge can impose an additional penalty include when a defendant commits certain assaults:

  • as hate crimes
  • because a victim was a first responder
  • on school property
  • for the benefit of a gang, or
  • against a vulnerable or older victim.

Any additional penalty imposed must run consecutively to the assault conviction (meaning the sentences run one after another).

(Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 193.161, 193.1675, 193.1677, 193.168 (2023).)

Defenses to Assault Charges in Nevada

Common defense strategies in assault cases include raising the issue of self-defense, challenging the prosecution's case, or seeking a reduction in the charges.

Self-defense. The judge or jury may acquit the defendant if the defendant assaulted the victim only in self-defense. Typically to win on a claim of self-defense, the defendant's actions must have been reasonable in light of the victim/attacker's actions.

Lack of intent. If the charges relate to placing another in fear of harm, a defendant could argue that the prosecutor failed to prove the defendant's intent. For example, a defendant might argue that they were practicing axe throwing, not trying to intentionally intimidate anyone.

Aggravating factors not proven. The penalties for assault increase when a person knowingly assaults a protected victim. If the prosecutor doesn't show that the person knew the victim was an officer, health care provider, or other protected class of victims, the assault charges could be reduced.

Getting Legal Help

If you're facing assault charges, even misdemeanor assault, it's a good idea to speak with a criminal defense attorney. Assault charges can mean jail or prison time, plus fines and fees. They will also end up on a criminal background check..

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