June 18, 2020

What Happens When You Get a Domestic Violence Charge

man threatening a woman in a home

If you’ve received a domestic violence charge and you’re looking for a domestic violence attorney in Las Vegas, you may be left with many questions and you may think that you have little means of fighting it. However, a powerful defense attorney could secure your innocence or provide a lighter sentence. But first, understanding the legal components of a domestic violence charge can help prepare you to fight it.

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What Is a Domestic Violence Charge?

In the State of Nevada, domestic violence is an umbrella term that refers to violence, an imbalance of power, or emotional trauma that one person levies against someone who is intimately connected to them. A domestic violence charge covers a specific type of offense that someone makes within this umbrella. Importantly, a prosecutor can drop a domestic violence charge in Nevada only if they cannot gather enough evidence to support the charge. Most charges won’t go away on their own and need to be challenged in court.

The Differences Between Domestic Battery and Domestic Violence

While domestic violence is a blanket term regarding a class of violent charges, domestic battery is a specific charge. A battery domestic violence (BDV) charge is levied when a person is believed to have used unlawful force against a family member, spouse, or partner. While BDV is commonly conflated with domestic violence as a whole, domestic violence covers a much broader array of offenses than physical violence.

Types of Domestic Violence Charges

Under NRS 33.018, a broad range of activities can be classified as domestic violence. As a result, there are different types of domestic violence charges with different penalties based on the severity of the crimes. Below are the most common.

Physical Abuse

Battery domestic violence (BDV) covers physical abuse that is also considered domestic violence. In this case, the physical abuse doesn’t have to leave lasting harm to count as battery. Even throwing a cup of water at someone could be considered battery.

Sexual Abuse

Domestic violence charges may extend to sexual assault or pandering, according to NRS 33.018. Sexual assault is distinguished as pressured sexual acts. These types of charges may bring additional ones outside the scope of a domestic violence charge.


Stalking refers to a persistent pattern of behaviors that leave a reasonable person subject to them fearful for their safety. Calling someone’s work multiple times and hanging up, following them throughout the day, and installing spyware to monitor them online are some examples of stalking. Nevada classifies stalking as a Category B felony that carries a 2-15 year sentence and a $5,000 fine for those convicted.

Financial Abuse

While Nevada doesn’t have specific statues recognizing financial abuse in terms of domestic violence, it is a common, silent component of domestic abuse situations. Nevada does make elder abuse, which typically involves younger people taking financial advantage of older people, a class C felony.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is a component of domestic violence and a person may be charged based on their actions, such as gaslighting or the deliberate manipulation of reality to cause distress.

Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse is punishable in Nevada as domestic violence, even if there was no physical harm done to the victim. Verbal abuse commonly accompanies many other forms of domestic violence, but it may occur on its own.

Related: What Are My Legal Rights When Accused of Nonviolent Abuse?

What Is the Average Jail Sentence for Someone Charged with Domestic Violence?

Nevada has adopted mandatory sentencing for those convicted of BDV, with each charge carrying progressively higher penalties than the last. BDV penalties are also subject to significant increases in the penalty for each additional conviction within 7 years. The first offense carries a minimum jail sentence of 2 days and a maximum of 6 months, which scales to a 10 day minimum and 6 month maximum for the second offense. A third offense carries a 1 year minimum sentence and a 5 year maximum in Nevada State Prison.

A BDV with strangulation, substantial bodily harm, or a deadly weapon is a Class C felony that carries a sentence ranging from 1-10 years in Nevada State Prison and a fine of up to $10,000. 

How a Domestic Violence Sentence Can Affect Your Life

A domestic violence conviction will cause disruptions to your life, but they don’t have to be permanent. Those convicted of BDV their first or second time will have to pay fines, do community service, and commit to mandatory counseling for up to one year. However, a person can seal the record of their BDV (meaning expunge the criminal record) after seven years, in the case of a misdemeanor, and twelve for a felony. If a person’s attorney can reduce their BDV charge to a lesser one, they can seal their conviction in only two years.

A domestic violence charge can carry serious consequences if you are found guilty. For this reason, it’s important to work with an experienced domestic violence attorney in Las Vegas. If you have been charged with domestic violence or battery, contact Marchiano Law today. We will defend your rights in court and work hard to make sure you receive a fair trial.