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Las Vegas Battery Attorney

Battery is a very common criminal charge in Las Vegas. Sometimes it is just a simple misdemeanor and other times it is a very serious felony. As you will see, the exact punishment a person faces and the possible defenses available to him depend entirely on the particular facts of the situation.

Please read on for more information.

Nevada's Definition of Battery Charges

The Nevada Revised Statutes define battery as "any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another" (N.R.S. 200.481.1(a)). There are three important terms to pay attention to within that definition, which are discussed in greater detail below.

"Willful" Explained

The term "willful" requires that a person specifically intend to commit battery assault.

Another way of phrasing it would be to say that the person was acting intentionally. An individual who accidentally makes physical contact with another individual would not be acting in a willful manner and thus would not have committed a battery assault.

The same would hold true for an individual who was unconscious when he/she made physical contact with another person.

So, for example, if a person who is having a seizure hits someone else during the course of his/her seizure, that contact would not be considered a battery assault because the person wasn't conscious at the time and therefore he/she was not acting willfully.

"Unlawful" Explained

The term "unlawful" means that the person did not have the legal right or authority to make physical contact with the other person.

This part of the definition exists to protect people like police officers from being charged with assault & battery charges while performing their duties in a legally prescribed manner. However, this does not mean that any physical contact by a police officer is per se lawful.

Whether the physical contact was or was not lawful would depend on the particular circumstances of the situation.

"Use of Force or Violence" Explained

Finally, there is the important and sometimes confusing term of "use of force or violence".

Most people instinctively understand that a battery involves some form of violence, but what kind of behavior would qualify as a "use of force"?

For example, would spitting in a person's face be considered a use of force? Spit isn't likely to cause any injuries to an individual other than his/her wounded pride and how much force are you really using when you spit anyway?

What about slipping a drug like Rohypnol (commonly referred to as the "date rape drug") into someone's drink without his/her knowledge? There isn't any direct physical contact, so how could there be a use of force?

The answer to both of these questions is YES.

The conduct in both examples would be considered battery. This is due in part to the fact that Nevada courts have chosen to interpret the definition of battery broadly, which means that many different types of conduct could potentially qualify as battery charges.

Potential Sentence or Punishment in Las Vegas

The potential penalty a person will face for a battery conviction depends on whether the battery was considered "simple" or whether it involved one or more aggravating factors that would result in a greater punishment. Below we define the term "simple battery" and explain these aggravating factors in greater detail.

Is Battery a Felony or Misdemeanor in Las Vegas

What is often referred to as a "simple battery" is really just a battery that does not (1) result in substantial bodily harm; (2) involve strangulation; (3) involve the use of a deadly weapon; or (4) involve a protected person.

A simple battery charge is a misdemeanor offense criminal crime and is punishable by up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine (N.R.S. 200.481.2(a) and N.R.S. 193.150).

Battery and Assault that Results in Substantial Bodily Injuries or Involves Strangulation

When substantial bodily injuries occurs as the result of a battery or when a person strangles another person during the commission of a battery assault, then that individual will be charged with a category C felony case.

Category C felonies carry a punishment of a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 5 years in state prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000 (N.R.S. 200.481.2(b)).

Assault with Use of a Deadly Weapon

When a person commits assault with the use of a deadly weapon but does not involve strangulation or result in substantial bodily harm, he/she will be charged with a category B felony and will be facing a potential punishment of a minimum prison term of 2 years and maximum term of 10 years as well as a possible fine of up to $10,000 (N.R.S. 200.481.2(e)(1)).

When a person commits a battery with the use of a deadly weapon and the battery also involves strangulation or results in substantial bodily harm, he/she will be charged with a category B felony and will be facing a potential punishment of a minimum prison term of 2 years and maximum term of 15 years as well as a possible fine of up to $10,000 (N.R.S. 200.481.2(e)(2)).

Assault on a Protected Person

In Nevada, certain people are deemed "protected" by statute. So what exactly does that mean? Simply put, this means that a greater penalty is imposed when someone commits assault against one of these protected persons.

So who exactly is considered "protected" and what is the difference in punishment? Both questions are discussed in greater detail below.

Who is Considered "Protected?"

The list of protected individuals are as follows:

  • Officers
  • Health Care Providers
  • School Employees
  • Taxicab Drivers
  • Transit Operators
  • Sports Officials

In addition to having one of the above job titles, the person must have also been performing his job duties when he/she was battered in order for this greater penalty to apply.

So if, for example, an off-duty police officer got punched in the face while out drinking at a bar with friends, he/she would not be considered a protected individual and the person who punched him would only be charged with a simple battery unless substantial bodily harm resulted from the punch.

Why is this? He is a police officer after all, which clearly falls under the "Officer" category of protected persons.

The reason why he/she would not be considered a protected individual is because he was not on duty as a police officer when he was punched in the face. Instead, he was off duty and out drinking at a bar with friends.

In addition to the requirement that the person must have been performing his job duties when the battery occurred, there is one final requirement imposed by statute in order for a person to be considered "protected".

The final requirement is that the person who committed the battery must have known or should have known that the person he was battering was either an officer, health care provider, school employee, taxicab driver, transit operator or sports official.

So if in the example above the police officer was not off duty but instead was on duty at the bar looking for underage drinkers and was punched in the face, would he be considered protected? That is a slightly trickier question, but the short answer is that it depends on the particular circumstances.

An experienced Las Vegas assault and battery lawyer would look for specific facts such as whether the police officer was in plain clothes or whether he was wearing a uniform; and, if the officer was not in uniform, whether the officer ever announced that he was, in fact, a police officer or showed his badge.

If he/she did announce that he was an officer or show his/her badge, did he do so in front of the defendant in a loud enough voice so that he could easily be heard? What if he/her announced that he/her was an officer but he/her did so with his/her back turned to the defendant and the defendant was deaf or hard of hearing?

As you can see, there are many arguments that could be raised depending on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding a particular criminal case.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to quickly spot these issues and use them to get you the best results possible.

Punishment for an Otherwise Simple Battery on a Protected Person

When a person knowingly commits what would otherwise be considered a simple battery against a protected person, the offense is charged as a gross misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000 (N.R.S. 200.481.2(d) and N.R.S. 193.140).

Punishment for Assault and Battery on a Protected Person Involving Substantial Bodily Harm or Strangulation

When a person knowingly commits a battery against a protected person that involves either substantial bodily harm or strangulation, he will be charged with a category B felony and will be facing a potential punishment of a minimum prison term of 2 years and maximum term of 10 years as well as a possible fine of up to $10,000 (N.R.S. 200.481.2(c)(3)).

Punishment for a Battery by a Prisoner or Probationer without Use of a Deadly Weapon

When a person commits a battery against a protected person while he is in lawful custody but does not use a deadly weapon, he will be charged with a category B felony and will be facing a potential punishment of a minimum prison term of 2 years and maximum term of 10 years. It does not matter here whether the battery involved strangulation or resulted in substantial bodily harm (N.R.S. 200.481.2(f)).

Punishment for a Battery by a Prisoner or Probationer with Use of a Deadly Weapon that Does Not Involve Strangulation or Result in Substantial Bodily Harm

When a person commits a battery against a protected person while he is in lawful custody and he uses a deadly weapon but the battery does not involve strangulation or result in substantial bodily harm, he will be charged with a category B felony and will be facing a potential punishment of a minimum prison term of 2 years and maximum term of 10 years (N.R.S. 200.481.2(g)(1)).

Punishment for a Battery by a Prisoner on a Protected Person with Use of a Deadly Weapon that Involves Strangulation or Results in Substantial Bodily Harm

When a person commits a battery with use of a deadly weapon against a protected person while he is in lawful custody and the battery involves strangulation or results in substantial bodily harm, he will be charged with a category B felony and will be facing a potential punishment of a minimum prison term of 2 years and maximum term of 15 years (N.R.S. 200.481.2(g)(2)).

Defending a Battery Charge in Las Vegas

There are several potential defenses to battery charges, but self-defense is one of the most common.

This defense involves the basic concept that a person has the legal right to defend himself from an oncoming attack, which sounds simple enough. However, the actual application of this defense is more nuanced and complicated, which is why it is important to have a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer who knows how to properly argue this defense on your behalf.

Somewhat related to the concept of self-defense is the defense that the supposed victim consented to the battery.

If this defense didn't exist, then a UFC fighter would be guilty of a battery each and every time he stepped into the octagon. Even football or basketball players could be charged. The end result of applying the law in such a rigid and mindless fashion would be utterly absurd.

So clearly the law has to allow for circumstances where both parties mutually agree to engage in conduct that would technically be considered a battery. That being said, consent is not an absolute defense, which is why it is so important to have a lawyer who is familiar with the Nevada law on this subject.

Another common defense to the charge of battery is that the accused had no actual intent to commit the battery.

This would involve a situation where the contact was accidental in nature or where the person was not conscious at the time he/she made contact with the victim. Again this defense may sound simple on its face, but it is oftentimes rather difficult to convince prosecutors or judges that a battery was not intentional because it is a story they have heard time and time again. Mounting this type of defense may involve tasks such as obtaining medical records and hiring an expert witness who will testify about a person's particular medical condition or the side effects of certain medications. Every situation is different and will require a somewhat varied approach. The right attorney will be able to determine the best course of action for your particular circumstances.

Our firm has represented many people charged with assault and battery in Las Vegas and throughout Southern Nevada and have the experience needed to know how best to defend such a criminal case. It is important to have someone on your side who will be your advocate and help you to navigate through the judicial system.

Call Las Vegas battery attorney Jennifer Ferris at (702) 710-8882 today for a free consultation to discuss the particular facts of your criminal case and get you the most favorable result possible.​​​

Our Recent Victories

Our attorney uses the experience she has with particular crimes, judges, and prosecutors to properly advise clients on realistic outcomes and to best anticipate possible strengths or weaknesses in their case. Having this experience allows us to read through fact patterns and quickly pick out all viable defenses that are most favorable to the client. For these reasons and more, we have achieved many favorable results in a wide range of practice areas.

  • Case Dismissed Battery Domestic Violence
  • Case Dismissed Charged with Battery with Use of a Deadly Weapon Resulting in Substantial Bodily Harm
  • Case dismissed Charged with Battery with Use of a Deadly Weapon Resulting in Substantial Bodily Harm
  • Case Dismissed Charged with Malicious Destruction of Private Property
  • Case Dismissed Robbery with a Deadly Weapon
  • Reduced to Misdemeanor Charged with Home Invasion
  • Reduced to Battery Charged with Attempt Murder with a Deadly Weapon
  • Reduced to Misdemeanor Charged with Battery with Use of a Deadly Weapon