Some Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Cases Prosecuted as Battery in Las Vegas
Misdemeanor domestic violence cases are being prosecuted as simple battery cases in the city of Las Vegas, according to reports in US News, Nevada Public Radio (KNPR) and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The reason for the change in the nature of these prosecutions, which dates back to October of 2019, is the Nevada Supreme Court’s decision last September in Andersen v. Eighth Judicial District Court. In the Andersen case, the Nevada Supreme Court decided that the crime of misdemeanor battery constituting domestic violence is a serious offense that triggers the defendant’s right to a jury trial. In response to this decision, Nevada prosecutors have elected to move forward on some cases as only simple battery offenses to circumvent an accused’s right to a jury trial on misdemeanor battery domestic violence offenses.
The Nevada Supreme Court’s Decision
In Andersen v. Eighth Judicial District Court, the defendant was arrested and charged with misdemeanor first offense battery constituting domestic violence. The defendant argued that a conviction on this charge would be a conviction of a serious offense, and he demanded a jury trial before the municipal court. The municipal court denied the jury trial request, and the defendant appealed. The Nevada Supreme Court ultimately agreed with the defendant and held that a jury trial was required.
The court explained that the right to a jury trial does not exist for all offenses. If the charges are for “petty offenses,” the jury trial right is not triggered. If the charge is for “serious” crimes, however, the jury trial right does attach. Although the court had previously held that the offense of misdemeanor battery constituting domestic violence was not a serious offense for this purpose, it found that recent changes in Nevada state law made it necessary to reconsider this prior holding. The changes in Nevada state law that the court was referring to were laws that limit the right of a defendant who has been convicted of misdemeanor battery constituting domestic violence to bear arms. The court stated that since new laws imposed a limitation on the possession of a firearm in Nevada that automatically and directly flowed from a conviction for misdemeanor domestic battery, and since this limitation affected a defendant’s state and federal constitutional rights, the offense of misdemeanor domestic battery is a serious one.
Both misdemeanor domestic battery and battery are misdemeanor crimes. However, as reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, domestic violence can lead to a felony on the third offense, and domestic violence convictions also require counseling.
In addition, and according to a late September 2019 report in the Las Vegas Review Journal, Las Vegas officials are considering prosecution of misdemeanor domestic violence cases under a proposed ordinance that would not limit a defendant from possessing firearms upon conviction.
To learn more about misdemeanor domestic violence cases and prosecutions, or if you have questions about the Andersen decision and its impact, contact Lobo Law PLLC, a Las Vegas domestic violence lawyer. Lobo Law PLLC can also help you to understand your legal options after a domestic violence charge. Call Lobo Law PLLC at 702-290-8998 for an in-depth consultation with an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer.