Domestic Violence

Definition of domestic violence
Why were charges filed?
Misdemeanor or felony
Testifying in court
Dropping charges
Further information
Safety Plan

Definition of domestic violence
Domestic violence is a violent confrontation that occurs between family members or between people who live together or between people in a dating relationship. It can happen between a father and daughter/son, mother and daughter/son, an adult child and elderly parent, but it most often occurs between a man and a woman living together, married or not, with the woman being the victim in the overwhelming majority of the cases. Sometimes weapons are used, sometimes property is damaged, but most often the physical violence increases in frequency and level over time.

Why were charges filed?
If you are the victim in a case being prosecuted by the Office of the City Attorney, the person who hurt you had a criminal complaint filed against him/her by the City Attorney for the following reasons:

  • The police officers, who responded to the place where the incident occurred, believed that a crime had been committed.
  • If the police officers believed that a battery had been committed they must make a police report for the incident. If possible, the officers must also arrest the person who they believe battered you within 24 hours of the battery. That person must spend a minimum of 12 hours in jail before he/she can be released.
  • If the officers are not able to arrest the person who they believe battered you, they must submit appropriate paperwork to the LVMPD Domestic Violence Unit. Detectives review the reports and evidence and may submit the case for possible prosecution.
  • Other police reports such as; violation of protective orders, destruction of private property, stalking or harassment, may also be submitted to the LVMPD Domestic Violence detectives for evidence review and possible prosecution.

Misdemeanor or felony
Generally, if the battery upon you did not involve a weapon (such as a knife or gun) or your injuries did not result in permanent physical damage to you, then the crime against you is classified as a misdemeanor. The maximum possible penalty for a misdemeanor is $1,000.00 fine and/or 180 days in jail.

Misdemeanors that occur within the city of Las Vegas are prosecuted by the City Attorney’s Office.

Batteries with weapons or serious injury are felonies. The Clark County District Attorney’s Office, prosecutes all felony cases and any misdemeanor cases that occur outside of the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City and Mesquite.
 
Testifying in court
You only have to testify in court if you receive a subpoena ordering you to appear in court to testify in a trial. Here are the steps explaining the court process:

  • Arraignment: When a criminal complaint has been filed against the defendant, he/she is ordered to go to court. He/she will be informed of the charges against him/her and must enter a plea of either “Guilty,” “No Contest” (“Nolo Contendere”) or “Not Guilty.”
If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, he/she may ask the court to appoint one for him/her at this time. A second court date is then scheduled.
  • Pretrial Conference: The defendant will appear with his/her attorney. At the Pretrial, the prosecutor will offer to recommend a particular sentence to the judge, in exchange for a “Guilty” or “No Contest” (“Nolo Contendere”) plea from the defendant. The recommendation will be based on the seriousness of the crime, the defendant’s prior history and input received from the witnesses, including the victim.
The defense attorney will let the defendant know what sentence the prosecutor will recommend if the defendant pleads guilty. Many  defendants change their pleas to “Guilty” “No Contest” (“Nolo Contendere”) at the Pretrial because they now realize how much evidence the prosecutor has and that if found guilty at trial the prosecutor would seek a harsher sentence.
If the defendant refuses the prosecution’s offer at the Pretrial, then a date is set for trial.
It is important for you to know that you do not have to attend either the Arraignment or Pretrial, but you are welcome to do so. Also, if the defendant pleads “Guilty” at either the Arraignment or Pretrial, there will not be a trial, you will not receive a subpoena, and you do not have to testify in court, but you do have the right to address the judge prior to the defendant’s being sentenced.
  • Trial: Once the Trial date is set, the victim and other witnesses will be subpoenaed to testify in court. Trials for misdemeanors in the Las Vegas Municipal Court will be in front of a judge without a jury.
The prosecutor will present evidence to show that the defendant is guilty of committing the crime with which he/she is charged. This evidence may include the testimony of the victim, testimony of independent witnesses including police officers as well as photographs, medical records and 911 tapes.
The defendant will present testimony and evidence by himself or through an attorney. The judge will hear the evidence and then decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
  • Sentencing: If the defendant is found guilty of battery domestic violence, the judge will decide the appropriate sentence within the guidelines established by Nevada Revised Statute (NRS). The sentence will include jail time, community service, fines and counseling.

The sentencing guidelines are also broken into levels for first and second domestic violence offenses being misdemeanors, while third or more offenses are felonies.

Dropping charges
You are not the one who filed charges. City Attorney Office policy and NRS prohibit dismissal unless the prosecutor is unable to prove the defendant guilty of committing the crime. 

Further Information
You are not alone! Victims and witnesses are encouraged to speak with a Victim Witness Advocate. An advocate will listen to your concerns and be available throughout the court process.

The advocate may also provide referrals, answer questions, communicate with the prosecutor and accompany the victim or witness to court. Call (702) 229-2525. The telephones are staffed Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You may leave a message and your call will be returned as soon as possible.

Safety Plan

  • Prepare for your safety even if you don’t think there will be a “next time.”
  • Have an escape plan: avoid the kitchen and rooms with weapons, know somewhere safe and secret to go (a friend, shelter, motel).
  • Teach children to dial 9-1-1 and keep a list of important phone numbers (family, friends, shelters). Store a bag packed with spare keys, ID, important papers, money and clothes outside the house or at a friend’s.



Contact Information

Victim Witness Advocate Unit
Phone: (702) 229-2525

Business Hours: Monday to Thursday 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., CLOSED Friday

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