Being accused of an "ordinary" Nevada assault crime is certainly a weighty enough situation, but facing a charge of assault with caustic chemicals is significantly more serious, as the penalties for this kind of crime can be greatly enhanced above and beyond those for simple assault.
At the Law Offices of Martin Mart, we have deep experience in handling all manner of assault and/or battery defense cases for clients in Las Vegas, Clark County, and all across the state of Nevada.
We do not shy away from the more polarizing and "difficult" cases, like some of our competitors tend to do. We are familiar with the law and the legal processes that apply to assault with caustic chemicals cases, and we will know how to build you a solid defense.
Contact us anytime 24/7 by calling 702-380-4278, and we can give you a free legal consultation and quickly get started on your case!
What Constitutes Assault with Caustic Chemicals?
An "assault" can be made with or without a weapon and with all manner of "weapons," ranging from one's bare hands to a knife or firearm to deadly, dangerous chemicals.
"Caustic chemicals" can include a wide range of substances, including gasoline, numerous petroleum products, toxic waste, and various fluids that are highly flammable and/or that can leave burns or facial/bodily disfigurement when they contact the skin. In general, "caustic chemicals" are defined legally as those substances that can burn living tissue.
The precise method of delivery of the caustic chemical and the exact amount used are not particularly relevant as to the charge of assault with caustic chemicals being made - but such factors could possibly affect the severity of the sentence.
And you need not have actually harmed someone with a caustic chemical in order to be charged with "assault" using one, for "assault" merely implies you attempted to inflict bodily harm on another person and not necessarily that you succeeded in that attempt.
However, you must have willfully and maliciously made the attempt to harm another person with a caustic or corrosive substance to be guilty of assault with caustic chemicals. That is, it cannot simply have been an accident.
Understanding Nevada Assault Laws
We've already looked at what constitutes a caustic chemical, and briefly mentioned what constitutes assault under Nevada law. But here is some more in depth information on Nevada assault and battery laws.
Under Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 200.471, an act of assault involves an attempt to inflict bodily injury on another person. The attempt must be unlawful and intentional. A threat can also count as assault if it "reasonably" causes another person to fear imminent bodily harm. But the "threat" must be coupled with some sort of "menacing action," like waving a fist or moving toward the potential victim - it can't just be words if it would count as assault on the basis of threat alone.
Under NRS 200.481, battery is a completed assault. Some form of contact must have taken place that was intentional and that could reasonably be expected to cause bodily harm or to be found "offensive" by the victim. Actual physical harm need not have occurred, however.
How Might Assault with Caustic Chemicals Be Charged and Punished in Nevada?
Assault with caustic chemicals is an aggravated and typically felonious assault charge in Nevada, as in most other states. You can be sentenced to heavy fines and long prison terms for this crime if convicted.
But you also might be charged under other statutes, such as NRS 200.280, Nevada's "mayhem" law. Mayhem is defined in Nevada as unlawfully disfiguring another person or causing him/her to lose the normal use of any of his/her body parts or functions. Mere contact with many caustic chemicals can easily cause a condition that would render the act and "act of mayhem."
Mayhem is a Category B felony in Nevada and is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine as high as $10,000.
Mayhem requires malice and permanent injury; but aggravated assault and battery could still apply even in cases of temporary injury or no actual injury at all.
If you are charged with assault with a deadly weapon instead of or in addition to assault with caustic chemicals, it is a Category B felony. It's possible the chemicals or the means used to deliver them could be construed as a "deadly weapon" under Nevada law.
A "deadly weapon" is anything inherently likely to cause great bodily injury or death OR anything that becomes likely to do so based on the circumstances or the way the object/substance is used.
Assault with a deadly weapon is punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
But if the assault with a deadly weapon was a "hate crime," where a person was targeted based on his/her race, national origin, religion, or sexual orientation, you can get up to 20 years in state prison.
Substantial Bodily Injury
If the use of caustic chemicals on a victim resulted in "substantial bodily harm" being inflicted, the penalties are greatly increased.
Under NRS 0.060, substantial bodily injury enhancements can apply if the injury is life threatening, if it causes permanent facial or bodily disfigurement, if it causes permanent loss of the use of a body part/function, or if it causes "protracted" loss/impairment of a body function.
Substantial bodily injury also has to involve "prolonged physical pain." The burns and disfigurement potentially caused by contact with caustic chemicals easily can meet the criteria for substantial bodily injury under Nevada law.
If simple battery causes substantial bodily injury, it's punishable by 1 to 5 years in state prison and a fine as high as $10,000. But you could easily get a harsher sentence if caustic chemicals were used on a victim.
Other factors that could cause sentencing enhancements in a caustic chemicals assault conviction include:
- The act was committed against a current or former romantic partner and thus qualifies as "domestic violence."
- The assault was made against someone in a "protected class," such as a law enforcement officer, ER worker, transportation worker, or umpire/referee at a sporting event.
- The perpetrator of the assault was a prisoner at the time or was on probation or out on parole.
- The assault was done with an intention to kill the victim, commit a sexual assault, or commit various other violent crimes aside from the act of assault/battery itself.
- The assault was made against a minor or an elderly or disabled person.
Thus, while an act of simple assault with no deadly weapon involved and no actual bodily injury inflicted is a misdemeanor punishable by 6 months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000 - assault with a caustic chemical is a more severe crime AND it can often involve various sentencing enhancements that make it even more severely punished.
Common Defense Strategies Against the Charge of Assault with Caustic Chemicals
Not only is assault with caustic chemicals an extremely serious charge to face, but it's also a relatively difficult charge to defend against. Nonetheless, we at The Law Offices of Martin Hart have consistently won for our clients on these types of cases, winning dismissals, acquittals, and significantly reduced charges and/or sentences.
Here are some of the most common defense strategies we successfully employ in defending our clients against the charge of assault with a caustic chemical in Las Vegas or other Nevada courts:
- Lack of Willfulness or Malice
If you had no malice toward the other person and did not even intend to commit the act that led to caustic chemicals being thrown toward or onto someone else, it's not a criminal act - it's an accident. You cannot be convicted of this crime based on a purely accidental occurrence, even if it involved a great degree of negligence on your part.
- Lack of Intentionality
What we mean by lack of intent here is similar to but distinct from the defense just listed above. It's one thing for an act to be done accidentally but consider this: an act might be done on purpose but without an intent to actually thrown harmful chemicals on someone.
If you threw, say, a bucket of what you supposed to be water at someone but the bucket was actually full of caustic chemicals, there's lack of intent but not of willfully tossing the contents of the bucket. It's the difference between "accident" and "mistake," you might say.
- Self Defense or Defense of Others
To take action against another person from whom you fear imminent bodily harm or whom you fear will harm another person present, is self-defense or, respectively, defense of others. That is not a crime but an exercise of your rights.
If you even reasonably and honestly believed your actions were necessary to defend yourself or another person, you can plead this defense, provided you met the threat with only sufficient force to stop it and did not proceed to inflict additional injury out of malice.
If the only means of defense available to you at the time was some form of caustic chemical, you might be able to use this defense.
- Violations of Your Rights
If the only evidence that prosecutors are relying on to convict you was gathered illegally, through violations of your Constitutional rights, we can make a pre-trial motions to get that evidence thrown out of court. That can effectively make the case against you unwinnable and win you a dismissal.
- Insufficient Evidence
The bar for conviction on crimes both small and great is "beyond all reasonable doubt," and if the prosecution's case is weak, we can argue that they have failed to meet this very high standard. If the court/jury agrees with us, the result will be an acquittal.
But even when it is untenable to expect a complete victory in court against the charge of assault with caustic chemicals, due to the nature of the evidence and testimony brought against you, we still have options we will employ to defend you.
It may be possible to defeat the caustic chemicals element of the charge and get a reduction to a more ordinary assault or battery charge.
Or, we may be able to secure a favorable plea agreement with the prosecution either pre-trial or during the sentencing hearing. We can present mitigating evidence in your favor that may reduce the charge or sentence considerably.
Of course, we will never make a plea deal without your prior knowledge and consent, but the point is we at The Offices of Martin Hart have well seasoned negotiation skills that we can put to work for you to win you the best possible outcome to your case.
Contact Us Today for Assistance!
If you have been charged with assault with caustic chemicals or another aggravated, felony assault crime in Las Vegas or anywhere in the state of Nevada, we have the expertise to vigorously defend your case.
Assault with caustic chemicals is a difficult charge to defend for many law firms, and many simply omit to take on this type of case. But we are different. We know how to win this unusual sort of assault defense cases, and we have a long track record of doing just that.
We are standing by 24/7 to take your call and assist you. Contact the Law Offices of Martin Mart today at 702-380-4278 and we will give you a free consultation and waste no time in giving your case the attention it deserves!