If you are facing the charge of battery on a police officer in Las Vegas, Clark County, or anywhere in the state of Nevada, you should not delay to obtain the best possible criminal defense lawyer to handle your case.
The penalties for battery on a police office (NRS 200.481) are more severe than even the penalties for "ordinary" battery convictions under Nevada law. And often, there is a presumption of guilt that must be overcome since the person allegedly assaulted was a "good guy," a friendly neighborhood police officer.
The fact is, many people are falsely charged with committing battery on a police officer, or the charge is exaggerated, or mitigating factors are not taken into account that could have reduced the charge and/or sentence.
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we have deep experience in successfully handling battery on a police officer defense cases in Nevada. We know the details of the law and how to build you the best possible defense. Don not hesitate to contact us anytime 24/7 by calling 702-380-4278so we can give you a 100% free initial legal consultation and quickly get started on winning your case!
How Is Battery on a Police Officer Defined Under Nevada Law?
Under Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Section 200.481, more severe sentences are prescribed to those who commit battery against peace (police) officers, judges, and certain other public officials, as opposed to battery against an "ordinary" civilian.
What exactly is "battery," as it's legally defined in Nevada? It is a willful (purposeful, not accidental) and unlawful (illegal) application of force and/or violence to another person.
Any amount of touching can count as battery, technically, but normally it would be something more substantial like a punch, kick, spit, casting of an object at someone, or unwanted sexual touching (sexual battery.)
Note that the mere attempt to batter is the distinct crime of "assault," while an act of battery must involve a carrying through (at least in part) of the intention to commit an act likely to inflict death, bodily harm, or likely to be extremely offensive to the victim.
Elements of the Crime
As the crime of battery on a police officer contains a number of different elements to it, it's not surprising that many people get falsely accused of this crime, and also, the more elements that make up an offense, the more difficult it generally is for the prosecution to prove all of them beyond reasonable doubt to win a conviction.
Battery on a police officer (NRS 200.481) contains the following elements:
- An act of battery truly took place.
- The person battered was indeed a police officer.
- The police officer was on duty at the time.
- The defendant knew, or should have known, it was an on-duty police officer he/she battered.
Now, as we have already seen, "battery" itself involves some form of touching. It also must involve an element of intent - not necessarily to inflict harm but to at least commit an action likely to inflict harm. Thus, even battery itself contains several elements, while battery on a police officer adds several more.
On a Police Officer
It's simple enough to say "the victim had to have been a peace/police officer." But who specifically is included under that term? All law enforcement agents would fall under that rubric, as do jail guards and probation officers.
Additionally, the same statute applies the same harsher penalties for battery to those who batter a firefighter, judge, referee, certain state employees who make official visits to homes, and a number of other "special protected classes" of people.
While of course all battery against anyone is a crime, these specific groups are singled out for special protection through steeper penalties due to either their authoritative position, their particular vulnerability, or because poeple in those groups suffer battery far too commonly.
An Officer On Duty
An off duty police officer who suffers battery is not given the special protection of NRS 200.481 like an on duty officer is.
Additionally, the defendant must have known it was an on-duty police officer (or other protected class of person) to be guilty of this crime.
If the officer was wearing his or her police uniform, badge, or driving a police vehicle, that would tell a reasonable person that it was an on-duty police officer.
But if there was no visible sign that it was a police officer, perhaps because it was a plain clothes (undercover) officer, then likely the offender could be guilty of assault but not of assault on a police officer.
Possible Penalties for Battery on a Police Officer
It's important to understand the severity of the penalty that could apply upon a conviction for NRS 200.481 Battery on a Police Officer. In light of what's at stake, it only makes sense to avail yourself of the best possible legal representation - someone like Attorney Martin Hart who has extensive experience in this very specific practice area.
Normally, battery on a police officer is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
But if "substantial bodily harm" was inflicted in the assault, or if strangulation was involved, then it's a Class B Felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in state prison and a fine as high as $10,000.
If the use of a "deadly weapon" was involved - and a deadly weapon can be almost anything used in a deadly way rather than simply guns and knives, then battery on a police officer is also a Class B Felony with the same penalties as for when substantial bodily harm and/or strangulation is involved.
But, if strangulation or substantial bodily harm AND use of a deadly weapon were involved, then you can get 2 to 15 years in state prison, plus the $10,000 fine.
At the Law Office of Martin Hart, we have often been able to get a battery on a police officer charge reduced to a simple (misdemeanor) battery charge through a favorable plea or by defeated directly a part of the prosecution's argument/evidence.
That change in charge means a $1,000 fine and a maximum of 6 months in county jail instead of a much more severe sentence. Plus, we can often get the jail time reduced in favor of probation and the fine exchanged for community service.
Finally, realize that it's much easier and faster to get a simple battery charge sealed under California's record sealing laws than a battery on a police officer charge. So, it's worth it in many ways to fight for a lower charge/sentence when a dismissal or acquittal is not realistic.
Common Defense Strategies
There is a stigma attached to even being accused of a crime like battery on a police officer. But the fact is, there are plenty of people who are falsely accused of this crime every year.
Many times, a look at surveillance videos or a cross examination of key witnesses will show that there is not solid evidence a police officer was actually battered.
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we are familiar with all of the most effective defenses to use against an NRS 200.481 Battery on a Police Officer charge, and we know when and how to apply each strategy. We know how to customize your defense to fit the exact details of your case and in a way that takes advantage of the prosecution's weak points.
Here are some of our most commonly used defense strategies against this charge:
- No act of battery ever took place.
If a defendant screamed at a police officer or verbally abused him or her with vulgarities and insults, that's not a recommended practice - but it is not battery.
Battery is not verbal. It is physical. It requires that some form of physical contact was made. If it wasn't, then it might be possible that an assault was committed, but certainly not battery.
- Lack of intentionality.
Not only must physical touching have occurred for it to be battery, but there must also have been an intent on the part of the defendant to inflict some form of physical harm on the victim.
Otherwise, it would be an accident or a misunderstanding perhaps, but not battery.
The action must have been done intentionally, and the act must have been of such a nature that it would likely cause physical harm to the other person.
- Defense of self or of others.
If a police officer was attacking the defendant in a manner that reasonably made him or her to fear for his life or safety - or doing so or about to do so to another person the defendant wanted to defend, then it could be a case where the "victim" was really the perpetrator.
Police using proper means, which can include application of physical force, to carry out their duties cannot trigger a self-defense defense. However, in some instance, where police may have gone beyond their authority, a self-defense or defense of others strategy could be appropriate.
- Lack of knowledge it was an on-duty police officer.
If the person battered was not, in fact, a police officer, then clearly the charge would fail and be reduce to simple battery.
But even if the victim was a police officer, but the defendant did not know that and had no reasonable way of knowing it at the time, then the charge still must be reduced from battery on a police officer to simple battery.
- False Accusation
It's unsettling to think that a police officer might lie about what happened during an arrest or other incident - that the police report might be fabricated or the evidence even be false or planted. But sometimes, unfortunately, that can happen.
And if it does, we at The Law Offices of Martin Hart will know how to dig into the evidence and expose any false story about the alleged battery incident for what it really is.
Why Choose Us?
We at The Law Offices of Martin Hart have been defending our clients against a wide range of criminal allegations throughout our existence as a law firm.
And Martin Hart himself has extensive, in depth knowledge of what it takes to win in a battery on a police officer case (and numerous other case-types) - experience he gained through years of hard work serving the people of Las Vegas, Clark County, and all of Nevada.
But besides our education, experience, and well honed legal expertise, we also bring you a dedication to your best interests in everything we do.
Unlike some unscrupulous "law mills" that farm out "extra" clients to less experienced lawyers for a fee, we always handle your case personally. We match you to a criminal defense attorney well equipped to handle the exact practice area(s) relevant to your case.
In short, we custom-build your case from the ground up, give it the time and attention it deserves, and keep you informed of all developments, step by step, throughout the legal process.
We also keep ourselves affordable (we have very competitive pricing), and available (we are ready to take your call anytime 24/7, 365 days a year including all holidays.)
Contact Us Today for Assistance!
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we know how to build you a solid defense against a charge of battery on a police officer. We have won dismissals, acquittals, and favorable plea deals for these types of charges for numerous previous clients and we can do the same for you!
For a free, no obligation legal consultation, do not hesitate to contact our Las Vegas criminal attorney for assistance anytime 24/7/365 by calling 702-380-4278.
We serve, Las Vegas, Clark County, and all of the state of Nevada with top-tier legal representation in all manner of criminal defense cases, including those involving a charge of battery on a police officer.