6 Things to Know About Domestic Battery

If you’ve been accused or charged then you might be wondering what domestic battery is and what steps you should take next. The most important thing to understand is that just because you have been charged with domestic battery doesn’t mean you are found guilty or are arrested.

Understanding the facts about domestic battery charges will offer you an advantage in your case and will help you seek out the right kind of legal help.

1. What is Domestic Battery?

Domestic battery means that there is any kind of force or unwanted touching in a domestic relationship. It’s common to assume that domestic battery only happens if somebody gets physical injuries like a bruise or broken limb. However, even just a rude or angry touch can be cause for a domestic battery charge. 

Domestic battery is slightly different from domestic assault. For a domestic battery charge, the actual act of violence needs to be carried out. For a domestic assault charge, the victim just has to feel threatened and understand that they could be seriously injured if the violent act is carried out. Because battery typically follows assault, the charges are often combined.

 

2. Can You Fight a Domestic Battery Charge?

Just because you are charged with domestic battery doesn’t mean that you will be convicted and face penalties. There are many situations in which a person may be charged with domestic battery but that individual was doing nothing wrong. The person charged may have been acting in self-defense, or might even be set up by a vengeful spouse. In domestic battery cases, it’s important to realize that things aren’t always what they seem at first.

An experienced domestic violence defense lawyer will build a great defense and may be able to help you get your case dismissed before a trial is necessary. Some common defenses for domestic battery charges include:

  • Self-defense. If a person is acting to protect themselves or others, then they have an affirmative defense to domestic battery charges.
  • False allegations. Because domestic battery allegations happen between domestic partners, they are usually emotionally charged. One spouse could report a false act to get back at the other.
  • Failure to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution must prove to the judge or jury that the act happened beyond a reasonable doubt. If they are unable to do this, then the defendant will be found not guilty.

 

3. Is Domestic Battery a Misdemeanor or Felony Crime?

If you’ve been accused, you’re probably curious about what a domestic battery charge’s penalties are. Domestic battery is usually a misdemeanor crime if a deadly weapon wasn’t used or injuries weren’t severe. However, if it’s the third domestic battery offense, a deadly weapon was used, or injuries were severe, then domestic battery is a felony crime.

Misdemeanor Offenses

The maximum penalties for a first-time domestic battery offense in Nevada are:

  • 2 days to 6 months in jail (often suspended if other terms are followed)
  • 48–120 hours of community service
  • $200–$1,000 in fines
  • $100 program assessment fee
  • At least 6 months of weekly domestic violence counseling classes paid for by the defendant

The maximum penalties for a second domestic battery offense within a seven-year period are:

  • 20 days to 6 months in jail
  • 100–200 hours of community service
  • $500–$1,000 in fines
  • At least 12 months of weekly domestic violence counseling classes paid for by the defendant

 

Category B Felonies

A third domestic battery offense within a seven-year period is a category B felony even if a deadly weapon wasn’t used and no injuries were severe. Maximum penalties include:

  •  1–6 years in prison
  • $1,000–$5,000 in fines

A domestic battery incident without severe injuries but that involves a deadly weapon is a category B felony. The penalties include:

  • 2–10 years in prison
  • $10,000 in fines

If the victim sustains serious injuries and a deadly weapon is used, the offense is a category B felony with penalties of:

  • 1–6 years in prison
  • $1,000–$5,000 in fines

 

Category C Felonies

If the domestic battery was committed by strangulation, it is a category C felony. The maximum penalties include:

  • 1–5 years in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

A domestic battery incident involving severe injuries but no deadly weapon is a category C felony. The penalties include:

  • 1–5 years in prison
  • $10,000 in fines

 

4. Can Domestic Battery Charges Be Dropped?

In a Nevada domestic battery case, only the prosecutor can drop the charges. The alleged victim may be ordered to testify in court and they can’t drop the charges. This is because domestic battery is a crime governed by the state and the state issues the charges.

However, the victim has the option to file a civil suit even if a criminal charge is already filed. A civil offense would allow the victim to gain money for injuries and loss of wages. In a criminal case, guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, there only needs to be a preponderance of evidence. Although the victim can’t drop the domestic battery charges in a criminal case, they can drop the charges in a civil case.

 

5. Is Child Custody Affected?

An allegation of domestic battery often influences a child custody battle between separated parents. When deciding child custody cases, judges consider what is in the best interest of the child. One factor in this is if a parent has been charged or accused of domestic battery before.

Because domestic battery allegations may be false, the family law court holds a hearing to determine if there is clear and convincing evidence of domestic violence. If that evidence is found, then the individual is presumed to be unfit for custody of the child.

6. Is Firearm Possession Affected?

If you have been charged with domestic battery, you can’t legally possess a firearm. Owning a firearm is illegal for any previous felony conviction, and it’s also illegal for any type of conviction involving domestic battery.

This law has no exceptions, meaning that a person in the military, law enforcement, or security industry could be prevented from continuing their employment in that field.

Conclusion

Although domestic battery convictions come with serious penalties and consequences, being accused doesn’t mean that you will be charged. There are many ways to defend and even dismiss a domestic battery case. If you’ve been charged with domestic battery, contact our expert criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation.