4 Common Nevada Domestic Violence Defenses

Article Provided By The Law Offices of Karen A. Connolly

A conviction for domestic violence can destroy your relationship with family members, social relationships, and your professional reputation.  If convicted of a battery domestic violence the offender may face severe financial and legal penalties.  If the offender is involved in a child custody battle, a conviction for domestic violence can affect the outcome of the proceedings. If you have been arrested for a domestic violence charge, there are several battery domestic violence defenses at the disposal of you and your attorney.

Click the links below to jump to the information you need:

Nevada Battery Domestic Violence

According to NRS 33.018 and NRS 200.485, battery domestic violence is when an offender commits battery against or upon a spouse, former spouse, person that the offender is related to by blood or marriage, person that the offender is or was residing with, person that the offender had or is having a dating relationship with, person that the offender has a child with, minor child of any of the above persons, the offender’s minor child, or any other person that has been appointed the custodian or legal guardian for the offender’s minor child.  Under NRS 200.481, a battery is the willful and unlawful use of force or violence against another person.  Examples of battery are hitting, pushing, biting, strangling, burning, poisoning, pulling on another’s clothes, pulling another’s hair, and throwing an object at another person and hitting that person.

Nevada Battery Domestic Violence Defenses

A charge for battery domestic violence does not necessarily mean a conviction.  There are many defenses that an accused may use to negate the domestic violence charge.

1. Self-Defense

A spouse or family member who is hit, kicked, pushed, or experiences any other type of abuse by a another spouse or family member has the right to protect themselves against such an attack.  Nevada has several self-defense laws available for a person that was defending themselves when arrested for a battery domestic violence charge.

The use of non-deadly force against a spouse or other family member to protect yourself is self-defense if you reasonably believed that you or another person was facing immediate bodily harm, and you used no more physical force than necessary to protect yourself or another person.  A person does not have to sit back and take the abuse of another person just because that person is their spouse or family member.  If your spouse or family member hits, kicks, or pushes your child and you reasonably believe the child is in danger of immediate bodily harm you may use the necessary physical force to stop the attack.

Abuse from a spouse or family member can quickly spiral out of control and in those cases sometimes the use of deadly force is necessary to stop the attack and is a legal form of self-defense in Nevada.   According to NRS 200.200 a person can kill another in self-defense during a domestic violence situation if it appears that the danger was so urgent and pressing that, in order to save the person’s own life, or to prevent the person from receiving great bodily harm, the killing of the other was absolutely necessary.  According to NRS 200.120, there is no duty in Nevada to retreat before using deadly force, however, the person using deadly force cannot be the original aggressor.  If you hit your wife or use another form of physical force and your wife, fearing for her life, grabs a knife, you must retreat before using deadly force to stop her attack.   When deadly force is used, another defense that sometimes comes into play is the battered women’s syndrome defense.  Battered women’s syndrome occurs when a person commits battery in self-defense against their spouse or other family member after being abused themselves, however, this usually only applies when there has been a homicide.

2. Accidental Injury

Domestic issues are sometimes difficult for police officers to sort out at the scene while emotions are running high.  If a spouse, child, or another family member residing in the residence is accidentally injured during a domestic disturbance, sometimes arrests will be made when there was no actual abusive action.  If a couple gets into a verbal argument and during the shouting match a wife trips, falls, and hits her head without any physical force by the other spouse, then a battery domestic violence has not occurred.  The act constituting a battery must be done intentionally for a battery domestic violence conviction.

3. False Allegations and Self-inflicted Injuries

A thorough investigation needs to be conducted when a claim for battery domestic violence is made.  False allegations of abuse and even self-inflicted injuries by spouses in order to seek revenge for past or perceived wrongs do occur in cases of domestic violence.  A trained physician or expert witness can distinguish between an injury caused by another person and a self-inflicted injury.  False allegations can be used during child custody battles in order for one spouse to gain an upper hand.  If there are allegations or a conviction for domestic violence a judge may not see it in the best interest of the child to be in the custody of the parent accused or convicted of domestic violence.

4. Lack of Evidence

The prosecutor may lack the evidence needed in a battery domestic violence case.  If the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender committed the battery domestic violence, then there will be no conviction.  The police at times also mishandle evidence during domestic violence cases, which can weaken or destroy the case against the offender.

If you have been arrested for battery domestic violence or another form of domestic violence there are defenses at your disposal.  A charge for domestic violence does not necessarily mean a conviction.  There are several defenses, including self-defense, accidental injury, false accusations, self-inflicted injury, and lack of evidence.  A conviction for battery domestic violence can include imprisonment, fines, community service, and mandatory treatment.  Allegations of domestic abuse can affect a person’s family, social, and professional relationships, as well as ongoing or future child custody battles.