Violent crimes can include anything from threatening a person with violence to actual use of physical force against a person. For the most part, Nevada law does not take kindly to violent crimes and treats many as felonies. In some circumstances for example, assault is treated as a misdemeanor so long as no weapon was used; but if a weapon was used to place another person in reasonable apprehension of physical harm, then one will be facing felony charges.
Some violent crimes against a person are automatically felony crimes, such as robbery, while other crimes such as battery have aggravating factors that will elevate it from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Furthermore, depending on the victim one may also be facing increased penalties. If the victim is 60 years or older, is vulnerable or is a child, one may be looking at longer jail/prison time and felony charges. The location of the crime can also be an aggravating factor, such as the crime being committed on school grounds.
Violent Crimes Include a Range of Charges
Crimes against the person range from the simple assault charge to one of the most heinous crimes of all, homicide.
Even with such severe consequences, one facing charges of a violent crime against a person is still entitled to their Constitutional Rights and that the State must prove each crime by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Assault and battery are commonly used interchangeably by people, but legally, are separate offenses that do differ. Assault is the unlawful attempt to use physical force against another person, or intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm. Unlike battery, one need not even have physical contact to be charged. An unlawful attempt to use physical force for example, would be a failed battery against a victim that you intended to cause (e.g. swinging a bat at someone’s head who then ducks out of harm’s way).
Another way to commit an assault that does not even require intent to use unlawful physical force, but only that you intentionally place a person in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm. Apprehension is knowledge, so the victim must have knowledge of your actions. Holding a weapon at a person who had knowledge of this would be reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm. Even scaring someone with a fake weapon can cause reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm.
Luckily, assault must be reasonable, so that it would have to be something that a reasonable person would believe to cause immediate bodily harm. For example, openly carrying a firearm without something more would not cause reasonable apprehension because such an act is legal and not an immediate threat. Pointing the gun at someone would be assault, or making a threat while the person had knowledge of you being armed might be.
There are defenses to assault. For example, lack of intent to cause assault; the harm was not reasonable, such as a reasonable person would not believe the conduct would cause immediate harm; the victim had no knowledge of the conduct and therefore there was no apprehension; self-defense if reasonable under the circumstances; and consent if the conduct was consented to and it was within the scope of the consent (e.g. a boxing match where one boxer pulls out a knife is not within the scope of consent).
Assault can be a complicated charge, where multiple defenses may exist. Assault is a crime where your intent and actions matter.
Penalties for assault are:
If the assault was not committed with a deadly weapon or the present ability to use a deadly weapon, is a misdemeanor
If the assault was made with a deadly weapon or the present ability to use a deadly weapon, a category B felony with a minimum 1 year and a maximum 6 years prison term, or by fine not more than $5,000, or both
If the assault was made upon an officer, provider of health care, school employee, taxicab driver or transit operator while performing his/her duty, or upon a sports official based on the performance of his/her duties at a sporting event and the person charged knew or should have known the victim was such person, then a gross misdemeanor unless made with a deadly weapon, then a category B felony
An assault committed by a parolee or probationer will make the assault a category D felony, unless a deadly weapon is used or present ability to use a deadly weapon, then a category B felony
A battery is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another. Battery requires intent to use unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another. An accident would not be intentional. Furthermore, it must be upon a person of another, but if the one intentionally uses force against something connected to a person, then this would be upon the person of another (e.g. shooting a horse while the victim was on the horse).
Penalties for a battery include:
A battery not committed upon a child and with no deadly weapon and no substantial bodily harm to the victim, is a misdemeanor
A battery not committed upon a child and no deadly weapon, but there is substantial bodily harm or strangulation, a category C felony with a 1 year to a 5 year maximum prison term and a possible fine not more than $10,000
A battery committed with the use of a deadly weapon and no substantial bodily harm, a category B felony and a minimum 2 years and maximum 10 years prison sentence and possible fine of not more than $10,000
A battery committed with the use of a deadly weapon and substantial bodily injury results or strangulation, then a category B felony and a minimum 2 years and a maximum 15 years prison sentence and possible fine not more than $10,000
A battery may also constitute Domestic Violence and if committed upon a child then Child Abuse and harsher penalties may apply
A battery charge is a serious charge and depending on the victim and harm, it carries varying penalties. There are defenses to a battery. For example, lack of intent to cause battery; force or violence was not used upon a person; self-defense if reasonable under the circumstances; and consent if the conduct was consented to and it was within the scope of the consent (e.g. a boxing match where one boxer pulls out a knife and stabs the other is not within the scope of consent).
Robbery is a serious crime in Nevada, because it is a crime against a person, not just property. With robbery, the defendant is using force, violence, or fear to take property away from the victim, unlike larceny where no force is used and the victim is not aware of it. This is why it is a crime against a person and carries harsher penalties.
Nevada’s definition of robbery is also much broader than it was at common law. Nevada’s legal definitions is “the unlawful taking of personal property from the person of another, or in the person’s presence, against his or her will, by means of force or violence or fear of injury, immediate or future, to his or her person or property, or the person or property of a member of his or her family, or of anyone in his or her company at the time of the robbery.”
As you can see, Nevada’s definition covers future threats, even against the property belonging to different people. Robbery in the state of Nevada covers much more than a mugging at gun point.
The penalty for robbery is a category B felony and carries a minimum 2 years and a maximum sentence not more than 15 years. The use of a deadly weapon will also increase your sentence from 1 to 20 years, but it shall not exceed the original sentence imposed and it will run consecutively with the robbery sentence. Depending on your case, one can be faced with serious prison time.
Defending a charge of robbery may vary depending on the facts, but robbery is a serious charge that should not be taken lightly.
1st Degree Murder
Being charged with murder is as serious as it gets in the criminal justice system. Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought, either expressed or implied. Nevada classifies murder into 2 degrees, murder in the first degree, and murder of the second degree.
Murder In the 1st Degree
Murder in the 1st degree is murder which is:
Perpetrated by means of poison, lying in wait or torture, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate and premeditated killing;
Committed in the preparation in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of sexual assault, kidnapping, arson, robbery, burglary, invasion of the home, sexual abuse of a child, sexual molestation of a child under the age of 14 years, child abuse or abuse of an older person or vulnerable person pursuant to NRS 200.5099. (This is considered felony murder);
Committed to avoid or prevent the lawful arrest of any person by a peace officer or to effect the escape of any person from legal custody;
Committed on the property of a public or private school, at an activity sponsored by a public or private school or on a school bus while the bus was engaged in its official duties by a person who intended to create a great risk of death or substantial bodily harm to more than one person by means of a weapon, device or course of action that would normally be hazardous to the lives of more than one person; or
Committed in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of an act of terrorism.
If convicted of murder in the 1st degree, one will be charged with a category A felony and shall be punished:
By death, only if one or more aggravating circumstances are found and any mitigating circumstance or circumstances which are found do not outweigh the aggravating circumstance or circumstances, unless a court has made a finding pursuant to NRS 174.098 that the defendant is a person with an intellectual disability and has stricken the notice of intent to seek the death penalty; or
By imprisonment in the state prison:
For life without the possibility of parole;
For life with the possibility of parole, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 20 years has been served; or
For a definite term of 50 years, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 20 years has been served.
2nd Degree Murder
Murder of the 2nd degree is all other kinds of murder. Think of this as when a killer acts with a reckless disregard for human life amounting to “an abandoned and malignant heart.”
A person convicted of murder of the 2nd degree is still charged with a category A felony, but the death penalty is not an option and parole eligibility starts sooner. A person convicted of murder in the 2nd degree shall be punished and imprisoned:
For life with the possibility of parole, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 10 years has been served; or
For a definite term of 25 years, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 10 years has been served.
If the victim survives, this will not be a defense to murder. The state can still charge you with Attempt Murder. If a person acts with the intent to commit murder, and tending but fails to accomplish the murder, it is considered an attempt to commit that crime (murder). In the case of murder, which is a category A felony, if found guilty of attempt murder, one will be charged with a category B felony and imprisoned not less than 2 years and a maximum term not more than 20 years.
As you can see, any charge a murder is a serious offense, so serious that you may face the death penalty in some circumstances. The state still has to meet its burden of proof, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which a skilled defense attorney will hold the state to this burden during trial. Also pretrial motions based of certain rights violation may suppress evidence and help your case, or if the homicide was justifiable, i.e. self-defense, then one may not be charged with murder.
NRS 200.040 and 200.050
When an unlawful killing of a person occurs, without express or implied malice and without any mixture of deliberation, then one may have committed Voluntary Manslaughter depending on the facts. To be charged with Voluntary Manslaughter, it must be voluntary, upon a sudden heat of passion, caused by a provocation apparently sufficient to make the passion irresistible. There must be a serious and highly provoking injury inflicted upon the killer and it must be sufficient to excite an irresistible passion in a reasonable person, or an attempt by the person killed to commit a serious personal injury on the person killing.
Various situations of an unlawful killing of another may be charged as Voluntary Manslaughter, but all the requirements must be met. Even if there is no deliberation and the killing was done under the influence of uncontrollable passion, if the jury finds that the circumstances were not such to justify the existence or persistence of irresistible passion in a reasonable man, then second degree murder may be warranted. State of Nevada v. Ah Moot, 12 Nev. 369, 386-87 (1877). So you can see even a killing that results from an impulse of passion can either be second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter depending on the facts.
The penalties for Voluntary Manslaughter are a category B felony and shall be punished by:
Imprisonment for a minimum term of 1 year and a maximum term not more than 10 years; and
A possible fine of not more than $10,000.
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