In 2010, Nevada changed the Battery Domestic Violence Laws making it illegal to touch someone forcefully without consent. The NRS 200.481 is the law for the crime of battery in the state of Nevada (Berkheiser 65). There are court cases dating back to the mid 1900s when the law was not in full creation yet. The National Center for Victims of Crime, also known as NCVC, is extremely helpful to those who have experienced domestic abuse. This agency connects victims to attorneys and other organizations to help them get through whatever it is that hurt them like battery domestic violence (“The National Crime Victim Association”). There are more organizations and agencies like NCVC that helps victims in tough situations. They advocate for them and get them to court.
The battery domestic violence laws in Nevada are laws that make it illegal for anyone to forcefully touch someone or use violence against another willfully. This can be harming one using a deadly weapon, punching, kicking, strangling, poisoning. Penalties of battery domestic violence for a first-time misdemeanor include a fine of $200-$1,000, community service of 48-120 hours, and staying out of trouble while the case is open. It is very rare for jail time with a first offence. A second-time misdemeanor that occurs within seven years of the first requires a minimum of 20 days in jail. A third-time within seven years of the first turns into a felony and can carry up to six years in Nevada State Prison. Those are the punishments for Category C crimes. Category C crimes refer to those in which deadly weapons were not used. Category B crimes would include the use of a deadly weapon. Minimum penalties would include at least two years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Maximum penalties would include a maximum of 15 years in prison and a minimum of 10 years in prison. The maximum penalty only applies to cases in which the victim “sustained substantial bodily harm or was strangled” (“NRS 200.481-Nevada “Battery” Laws”). Other category B crimes would include the victim working as an officer, health care provider, school employee, etc. (“NRS 200.481-Nevada “Battery” Laws”). This law was created to protect people from being forcefully harmed by another when it was unintentional.
History and Background
In 1997, the battery domestic violence laws were created. Although people were being arrested for these crimes, a battery domestic violence conviction did not require a jury trial. Nevada has one of the worst battery domestic violence crime rates to date. In the United States during the 1900’s, domestic violence was acknowledged but was treated as a private family matter. It wasn’t until the Women’s Liberation movement in the 60’s and 70’s that the issue of domestic violence was truly recognized by the American Public. The state of Nevada made an act of battery domestic violence illegal in 1997 (Johnson 1). Since then there have been numerous revisions to these laws. The most recent happened in 2015. Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic explains that, “the 2015 state law that triggered the decision by the State Supreme Court changed the whole system and made things less safe for victims because of the jury trial requirement” (Christiansen 1). The only real punishment is the jury trial.
The Women’s Liberation Movement was a huge part in the creation of the battery domestic violence laws. The movement brought to light many issues that occur within domestic violence. This led to the Violence Against Women Act. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was created in 1993. Despite the advancements for women in the workplace, there were still issues at home with their partners. Women were abused, both physically and sexually by their partners. When there were no laws, women had no rights, it was considered a private family matter. With the creation of VAWA, domestic violence and sexual assault were being acknowledged as crimes. These laws are “up for renewal every five years, each VAWA reauthorization builds on existing protections and programs to better meet the needs of survivors” (“Violence Against Women Act”). Since the creation of this act, women have been able to contact survivors and advocates to help them through their own domestic violence (“Violence Against Women Act”). This act has saved many women’s lives and continues to grow and change every year.
On June 10, 1983, Officer Charles Saulnier was at a pizza parlor enjoying a sporting event with some friends. A few men got into an altercation at the parlor. Officer Saulnier and fellow officer Barnes initially reacted by identifying themselves and showing their badges. The officers, who were off duty, broke up the fight and moved the parties outside. Again, a fight broke out. The two officers identified themselves again and went to break up the fight. While doing so, “Saulnier was struck and injured by respondent Zimmerman” (Washoe Co. Sheriff v. Zimmerman). Zimmerman was arrested on the spot. According to the battery domestic violence laws, later known as NRS 200.481, this was a category B offence. Although the officers were off duty, they showed their badges and Zimmerman knew they were officers. A category B offence would consist of a greater penalty since the battery was against an officer. Zimmerman was released on the charge because Officer Saulnier was not in the city of his jurisdiction (Washoe Co. Sheriff v. Zimmerman). This case is important to the making of NRS 200.481 because this was one of the original cases that helped create sections of the law. It helped with the penalties of injuring a police officer, but also protects the defendant when the officer is not in their jurisdiction. (“2015 Domestic Violence Statistics”) (“NCEDSV Statewide Data Collection Project”)
In 2015, there were more than 41,400 people who were domestic violence victims. Out of those people, there were only 12,407 people who contacted law enforcement. While most of these people are women and children, what people don’t realize is that there are men out there in domestic violence situations too. Although the number is significantly lower, people usually think of women when they hear domestic violence (“2015 Domestic Violence Statistics”). As of 2019, the total number of domestic violence victims is 19,936. Yes, this number is significantly lower but it is still very high. Over half of these victims are residents in Clark County. Every year Clark County has the highest number of victims (“NCEDSV Statewide Data Collection Project”). The pictures above show the age and gender of people who were victims of domestic violence. The first one is from 2015, and the second is 2019. While the number of domestic violence victims goes down every year, it is still a huge problem.
In the revision to NRS 200.481, Las Vegas will stop charging people with a misdemeanor. Rather, they will be charged with simple battery. Similarly to being charged with a misdemeanor, they can also have their fire-arms confiscated. One thing many do not understand is that more times than not, a knife or blunt object is used rather than a fire-arm (Christiansen 1). In the case, Andersen v. The Eighth Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada, changes would be made to require a jury trial if the offence was a serious one (Andersen v. The Eighth Judicial District Court). This is where the problem comes in. The whole trial would be in one day. If there were nine trials scheduled in one day, eight of them would be pushed back. This would set back cases years behind. This extremely problematic as the most dangerous time for a victim is between the arrest and the trial of their abuser. This puts victims at high risk to be hurt again (Christiansen 1).
Every year, the recorded number of domestic violence victims went down by thousands. This was unfortunately not the case for 2020. When the outbreak of Covid-19 happened and everyone had to stay home and quarantine, this pandemic added “multiple levels of scary” in domestic violence situations (“Advocates say pandemic adds ‘multiple levels of scary’ to domestic violence situations”). With the added stress of money, the amount of domestic violence victims has skyrocketed. Being stuck at home with an abuser causes a higher risk to the victim then when they were at work. In 2008, there was a financial crisis in Nevada. The domestic violence hotlines “lit up with calls. Financial stress, experts say, escalated into verbal and physical abuse” (“Advocates say pandemic adds ‘multiple levels of scary’ to domestic violence situations”). Today, the largest domestic violence agency in Washoe County, Safe Embrace, saw an increase of 72 percent in March (“Advocates say pandemic adds ‘multiple levels of scary’ to domestic violence situations”). This pandemic has caused an increase in domestic violence and with many places still shut down, it is getting harder and harder to find safety.
Differing View Points
While the numbers of domestic violence have declined in recent years, violence still remains a leading cause of injury to women. Kalyani Robbins, a professor of law at the University of Akron School of Law states,
‘Domestic violence is a problem that must be dealt with for what it is: a criminal act. The only way to effectively diminish it is through the full force of the criminal justice system, which must treat domestic violence the same as it treats crime by strangers’ (“Introductions to Domestic Violence: Opposing Viewpoints”).
Although many believe that domestic violence is reprehensible, there is a debate on how society should respond and how they are responding. An argument has come up about whether or not the government should require the policies and programs. These programs almost make one believe they should be antifamily and that all men are bad. But, this is not true (“Introductions to Domestic Violence: Opposing Viewpoints”). While the statistics say that one in four women are in a domestic violence situation, statistics also say that one in three men are in these situations too. Not all men are predators, they should be seen as any other person either man or woman.
A domestic violence prevention group, No Excuse for Abuse, claims, there is a stereotype of domestic abuse, when a man beats his wife and/or child. But it is not limited to just women and children. When one family member has more power or control, the other member often tries to seek this power and it can lead to domestic violence. One wants to feel more in control can they can do this in many ways other than just battery. It can happen emotionally, physically, and even psychologically. “The actual number of abused victims is far beyond what statistics show, because most abused victims keep quiet about their situation from fear of further abuse” (“Opposing Views”). People are so scared of being abused more that they don’t speak up. Some are also afraid of someone not believing them. Their ‘abuser’ can lie and manipulate the truth to where people believe them over the victim (“Opposing Views”). People shouldn’t have to fear telling someone about their abuse. There are many changes that need to happen in order to make this fear go away.
Both of these views state that there is a stereotype to domestic violence and that needs to change. It is not just a man beating a woman. Victims also include men and children. The law professor claims that the government has enough power to create programs to help the victims. The victims are the ones in need of programs, not the abuser. The abuser shouldn’t have to go to a class for what they have done, there needs to be real punishment. The domestic violence prevention group believes that victims need help and a way out from their abuser. With more programs they can safely start a new life without having to watch their back.
Nevada has ranked one of the worst states for having the most cases of domestic violence (“A Culture of Abuse: Nevada Ranks Among Worst States for Domestic Violence”). The NRS 200.481 has helped many people who were in a battery domestic violence situation. The cases from 2015 to 2019 have decreased significantly with the help of these laws. In 2015, there was a recorded amount of about 41,400 victims and in 2019 the recorded amount was about 19,900. This huge amount has decreased by nearly 21,000 cases (“NCEDSV Statewide Data Collection Project”). The abusers are being punished accordingly, but with the revised laws jury trials are taking longer to prosecute the convicted. Getting to the jury trials can take upwards of two years. Going through the whole trial process takes an entire day, so the other trials that were scheduled are being pushed back (Christiansen 1). Although the battery domestic violence laws have helped decrease the number of victims, there still needs to be improvement on how the trials are being handled. There should be multiple trials each day. Whether there be more courtrooms, judges, or juries, something needs to give.
- “2015 Domestic Violence Statistics.” Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, (2015), https://www.ncedsv.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/CY2015 stats_summary.pdf
- Andersen v. Eighth Judicial District Court, 75208. (Supreme Court of NV 2019). https://law.justia.com/cases/nevada/supreme-court/2019/75208.html
- Berkheiser, M. “Supreme Court of Nevada, Administrative Office of the Courts, Nevada Domestic Violence Resource Manual.” Scholarly Works, (2000), https://scholars.law.unlv.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1388&context=facpub.
- Christiansen, R. “City To Consider Changing Domestic Violence Statute.” Nevada Public Radio, (2019), https://knpr.org/knpr/2019-10/city-consider-changing-domestic-violence-statute.
- “Introduction to Domestic Violence: Opposing Viewpoints.” (2012), http://cpptechprojects.weebly.com/uploads/2/1/5/1/21518256/introduction_to_do mestic_violence_1.pdf
- Johnson, R. “Changing Attitude About Domestic Violence.” (2002), https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=194809
- “NCEDSV Statewide Data Collection Project.” Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, (2019), https://www.ncedsv.org/wp/content/uploads/2020/06/2019-CY-yr -QSR.pdf
- “NRS 200.481-Nevada “Battery” Laws.” Las Vegas Defense Group, https://www.shouselaw.com/nevada/battery#6.
- “Opposing Views.” No Excuse for Abuse, (2013), https://noexcuseforabuse813.wordpress.com/opposing-views/
- “The National Crime Victim Bar Association.” (2019), https://victimbar.org
- Valley,J. “A Culture of Abuse: Nevada Ranks Among Worst States for Domestic Violence.” Las Vegas Sun, (2014), https://lasvegassun.com/news/2014/oct/27/culture-domestic-abuse -nevada-ranks-among-worst-/
- Valley, J. “Advocates say pandemic adds ‘multiple levels of scary’ to domestic violence situations.” The Nevada Independent, (2020), https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/advocates-say-pandemic-adds-multiple-levels -of-scary-to-domestic-violence-situations
- “Violence Against Women Act.” (2017), https://nnedv.org/content/violence-against-women-act/
- Washoe Co. Sheriff v. Zimmerman, 663 P.2d 1194 (Nev. 1983). (Supreme Court of Nevada). https://casetext.com/case/washoe-co-sheriff-v-zimmerman