Why was I Arrested for Domestic Violence?

In our previous Blog, entitled What is “domestic violence”?, we provided you with an analysis on the many acts that can qualify as “domestic violence.”  Many of these acts do not involve a “battery” or touching at all.  In this Blog, we solely examine battery domestic violence charges, the most common domestic violence charge.  So when does the act of touching somebody qualify as a battery?

Do bones need to be broken?  

Does blood need to be drawn? 

Are tears the triggering factor?

Surely some evidence of injury is necessary, right?

The answer to all of the above questions is NO.

Nevada law defines battery as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.”  The Nevada Supreme Court has determined that “nonharmful and nonviolent force suffices.”  Thus, the “force need not be violent or severe and need not cause bodily pain or bodily harm.”  “Battery is the intentional and unwanted exertion of force upon another, however slight.”  In fact, in the above referenced Nevada Supreme Court case, the act of simply spitting on another was deemed a battery.  Thus, rather than focusing on the injury or pain of the alleged victim, the law is more interested in whether the touching was unwelcomed.

Once again, if anger, aggression or force is evident, coupled with a determination that one of the individuals is the “primary aggressor” (i.e., somebody deemed the touching unwanted), law enforcement will make an arrest and the arrestee will most likely be charged with an act of domestic violence.  Context is everything.  The same exact act committed in two different contexts could transform from flirtation to a domestic violence battery charge.  As an illustration, on Monday a husband playfully smacks his wife on the behind on their way to bed.  His wife giggles and looks back at him with a sexy stare.  On Tuesday, the same husband gives his wife the same smack on the behind while they are arguing over her interaction with a neighbour.  This time his wife screams at him and calls the police.  Although the smacks were exactly alike, the smack on Monday was playful flirtation while the smack on Tuesday is arguably domestic violence battery.

Keep in mind that “battery” (i.e., physical touching) is only one crime that can be enhanced to a domestic violence charge.  See our prior Blog entitled What is “domestic violence”? for a more thorough analysis on what acts can constitute domestic violence.

Summary