If you have recently been arrested in Las Vegas or anywhere in Nevada and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, you are facing a felony charge with potentially severe and long-lasting consequences. And prosecutors are eager enough for a conviction to ignore evidence suggesting your innocence or to exaggerate the incident and press for over-severe sentencing.
It is in your best interests to secure the services of an experience Nevada criminal defense attorney without delay. The sooner you act, the more likely it is that important evidence and witnesses in your favor will still be quickly accessible. And even the mere fact you have a lawyer with a strong record working on your case will force prosecutors to "play fair" and be more open to a possible plea deal.
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we have been defending Las Vegas and Nevada residents accused of the crime of assault with a deadly weapon for years and have secured many dismissals, acquittals, and reduced charges. We have also represented many out-of-state defendants who were arrested on this charge while visiting Nevada.
To learn more about defending against an assault with a deadly weapon allegation or to avail yourself of a free legal consultation, call us anytime 24/7 at 702-380-4278.
How Is "Assault With a Deadly Weapon" Defined in Nevada?
Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Section 200.471 defines and criminalizes "assault," while NRS Section 193.165 defines what is meant by the unlawful use of a "deadly weapon. Thus, assault and criminal use of a deadly weapon are two separate components of the crime.
Definition of Assault
Assault is defined as the unlawful use of physical force or fear against another person. It involves intentionally putting a person in fear of imminent bodily harm, provided that fear is "reasonable."
Note that assault does not require that your actual harm or even touch the victim, whether that touching would be with the weapon or your own body. Threats, be they verbal or otherwise (distinctly) communicated can count as assault.
And a failed attempt to inflict bodily harm also counts as an act of assault. If that attempt had succeeded, it would have been the crime of "battery." Thus, while the phrase "assault and battery" often occur together, they are legally two different crimes.
Definition of Deadly Weapon
NRS 193.165 defines deadly weapon as a weapon that, when used against another person, and in an "ordinary manner," would likely result in bodily harm or death.
But in reality, virtually any object can be used as a deadly weapon in a way considered "ordinary" as that term is used in the statute. In other words, "ordinary manner" is more a technical "legalese" term than anything else. However, if it was unforeseeable that the weapon could cause harm as used, then that could be relevant.
While guns and knives are some of the most obvious and most common deadly weapons, there are many other examples, including: nun chucks, explosives, a shovel, a brick, a metal pipe, a glass bottle with one end broke off, a wooden board with a nail lodged in it, a rope, a chain, or a live electrical wire. The list is endless.
The design and purpose of an object, its weight, material, sharpness, or other properties can all make it capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or even death on another person. And when used in a particular and/or "skilled" manner, even the most mundane, unsuspected instruments can become "deadly weapons."
Defining Assault With a Deadly Weapon
Bringing the two elements of assault and deadly weapon together, the crime is defined as making an assault while carrying a deadly weapon or while having one within easy reach.
If the someone making an assault "was able to use" the deadly weapon, they can be charged. Even if the weapon was not actually used, was hidden, or was present but there was no intention to use it, you could still be convicted. The intention to instill fear with the weapon is enough, even if there was no intention to actually use it.
Normally, assault with a deadly weapon involves the pointing of a gun, the waving, pointing, or positioning of a knife, or the hurling or threatened hurling of a brick, rock, or heavy object in someone's direction.
Holding one's fist in another's face and verbally threatening to hurt them could sometimes count as assault with a deadly weapon. But usually throwing a punch but missing isn't enough to count as using a deadly weapon, unless you were wearing brass knuckles.
And, typically, these kinds of incidents arise out of arguments or occur in the course of committing other crimes. Burglary, for example, could turn to robbery and then assault if the burglar is confronted by a home or business owner. And if the burglar used tools to break in or is carrying a gun or knife, the deadly weapon component is there. Another example might be a domestic dispute or an incident of "road rage" gone way too far.
Possible Penalties If Convicted of Assault With a Deadly Weapon
In Nevada, assault with a deadly weapon is a Class B Felony, which is punishable by from 1 to 6 years in state prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
While for some other Nevada crimes, their being committed against a special protected class of persons (police, school workers, healthcare providers, emergency workers, taxi drivers, umpires, or probation officers), will lead to a sentencing enhancement, there is not such enhancement for the crime of assault with a deadly weapon.
Some crimes also have enhancements based on the status of the perpetrator (such as inmate or someone serving probation); but again, the penalties remain the same for assault with a deadly weapon. Perhaps the reason for this is that the penalties are already rather severe.
Plea Bargain Reductions
In many cases, it may be possible for a skilled Nevada defense lawyer to secure a favorable plea deal where a dismissal/acquittal is unrealistic.
There are several ways to do this. You might be able to get the charge reduced to simple assault, simple battery, or even trespassing. But in all three instances, the charge would then be a misdemeanor instead of felony and would have the same penalty: a maximum jail term of 6 months, a fine of up to $1,000, or community service in place of the fine.
Attorney Martin Hart understands how and when to seek such a plea, and he has well seasoned negotiating skills and extensive knowledge of what does/does not get accepted in these kinds of negotiations. This helps him to secure the best possible plea for his clients time after time.
Commonly Used Defense Strategies
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we use a wide range of defenses, tailor-making each defense to the exact details of the case at hand. Our longtime experience in the legal world, and with assault with a deadly weapon cases specifically, tells us when to use which defense strategy for the best possible outcome.
Here are some of the defense strategies we commonly use with good effect against the charge of assault with a deadly weapon:
- Lack of Intent
While there is no need for intent to harm the victim or intent to actually use the deadly weapon to be convicted, the prosecutor must prove an intention to act in a certain way so as to instill a reasonable fear of suffering immediate physical harm. In this sense, assault with a deadly weapon is a "crime of intent." You are not guilty of it if the incident was merely an accident or a misunderstanding.
- Lack of a Reasonable Fear
In order for the crime of assault to occur legally, the alleged victim must have had a "reasonable fear" of suffering immediate bodily harm. If the was no fear at all, or if it was not based on anything that would make a reasonable person feel fear. And the fear must be one of "immediate" harm, not some far-off possibility of harm; and it must be physical, not emotional, harm that is at issue.
This is by far the most common of all defense arguments used against assault with a deadly weapon, as well as in similar cases. Nevada has a number of "self-defense statutes" on the books that ensure people are legally allowed to defend themselves against bodily harm. As long as you did not use excessive force, but only so much force as necessary, it is valid. In the case of assault, no actual touching occurred, but the show of force was the deterrent and a kind of self-defense.
- Defense of Others
This defense is just exactly the same as self-defense except that the motive was to defend others. A show of force, even one involving a deadly weapon, is not necessarily excessive in some situations. It may, in fact, sometimes be necessary to protect the lives and physical well being of others.
It may seem odd to say that "consent" could be a defense against the charge of assault with a deadly weapon, but in the world of sports, physical contact is part of the game. Someone might accuse some other person in a contact sports game of assault, when that type of action was consented to by all players. Or, in a domestic situation, some activity not thought to be dangerous might be consented to; and then after an injury accidentally occurs, an assault charge could be filed. But in such cases, you are not guilty and a good lawyer can cause the truth to come out in court.
- Lack of a Deadly Weapon
Even if the assault part of the charge cannot be defeated, it still may be that you are innocent of the deadly weapon element. If no deadly weapon was used by the defendant, he/she would only be guilty of simple assault, which is a misdemeanor. If the alleged deadly weapon can not be said to have caused a reasonable fear of bodily harm being inflicted with it, then the prosecution is trying to make a deadly weapon out of something that wasn't. An experienced criminal defense attorney will know how to counteract that move.
- Mistaken Identity/False Accusation
As many who commit assault, with or without a deadly weapon, do so at night or while wearing a disguise, it is easy for the wrong person to be accused of the crime. It is also not uncommon (especially in domestic situations) for a disgruntled romantic partner or someone else wanting revenge to simply invent a false charge. Martin Hart will cross-examine witnesses and scrutinize evidence brought against you to expose false accusers.
We at the Law Offices of Martin Hart will thoroughly analyze your case and form for you a solid defense. We do not just use "cookie cutter" defenses or employ defense arguments hit-and-miss. We know what is most effective and when to do what. We know because we have won many, many cases just like yours in the past using similar defense strategies.
Contact Us Today For Help
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we have deep experience in defending and winning assault with a deadly weapon cases in Las Vegas, Clark County, and throughout the state of Nevada.
Our well seasoned criminal defense team will know how to build a solid defense for your case and win for you the best possible outcome. We have a long track record of securing dismissals, acquittals, and reduced charges/sentences even on "tough cases" that other lawyers don't want to touch.
For a free consultation and quick attention to your case, do not hesitate to call us 24/7/365 at 702-380-4278.