(1) How long will my domestic violence case take?
It depends. From the date of your arrest until your criminal trial (or plea hearing if you enter into a “plea agreement”) can take anywhere from three months to over one year. Even then, your case can remain open for extended periods of time until your sentence has been satisfied.
(2) When the police arrived the dispute had calmed and we both advised the police that we did not want to “press charges” – Why was I arrested?
The arrest was required by law. Nevada law requires police officers to make an arrest where “probable cause” exists that any one of a number of acts was committed that qualify as domestic violence under Nevada law. An arrest must be made as long as the police arrive within 24 hours of the incident.
(3) The police seized my guns – Can I get them back?
Maybe. If a weapon was used or threatened to be used in connection with the underlying incident, it will be seized by law enforcement. However, law enforcement can seize your weapon even if it was not used in connection with the underlying incident. If your weapon is seized by law enforcement, you will need a court order to recover it.
(4) The complainant does not wish for charges to be pressed – Will the prosecutor drop the charges?
No. In fact, it is not uncommon for domestic violence complainants or victims to be resistant to prosecution of the Defendant. Prosecutors are used to this and, if necessary, can utilize evidence other than the complainant’s testimony to secure a conviction. The complainant is not the plaintiff in the action against the Defendant, the State or City is. Although an uncooperative complainant could impact the strength of the case against you, whether or not the complainant cooperates or testifies is not the deciding factor in the case against you.
(5) The complainant will not testify against me – Will he or she expose them self to liability for refusing to testify?
Possibly. The complainant will be contacted by the City or State a couple times before your trial. Victim advocates and prosecutors are examples of persons that will make contact. The complainant will be subpoenaed to testify at your trial. If the complainant decides he or she will ignore the subpoena and/or will not testify at trial, he or she should retain independent counsel to protect his or her rights. By ignoring a subpoena and/or recanting on the stand, the complainant could expose them self to crimes such as contempt of court, filing a false police report and/or perjury.
(6) What penalties will I receive for a domestic violence conviction in Nevada?
Nevada utilizes a minimum ↔ maximum sliding scale for domestic violence penalties/sentencing. The penalties become more severe if you have prior domestic violence convictions or aggravating circumstances exist with your case. Mandatory penalties include jail time, community service, counseling and fines. If the circumstances warrant, you could also be sentenced to drug/alcohol abuse treatment and restitution. Domestic violence convictions can also have negative impacts on issues such as child custody or your ability to purchase a gun.
(7) What types of issues will my domestic violence defense implicate?
Domestic violence cases are complex. They are not simple “he said – she said’s” coupled with photographs of injuries. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for domestic violence arrests to result from dishonest or vindictive loved ones. It is also not uncommon for loved ones to “take the fall” by agreeing to go to jail to keep the other person out. In cases such as these, hiring a forensic pathologist could be useful in establishing that the claimed injuries are old and/or could not have been caused by the described attack. Even confessions are susceptible to attack. Finally, not all touching constitutes a battery. For instance, self-defense involves lawful touching.
(8) What do I do if a “No Contact” or “Temporary Protective” Order was issued that prohibits me from going home or being around the complainant?
Comply with it. Often times, domestic violence arrests do not result in the parties divorcing, breaking up or even moving away from each other. The protective order becomes a barrier that prevents two people from seeing each other that do not want to be separated. The best thing for you to do is ask your attorney to file a motion that asks the court to dissolve the Order. You and your significant others’ reconciliation intentions aside, the circumstances between you are obviously volatile. If you ignore the Order, you will do nothing but expose yourself to additional criminal liability.
(9) I need to go home to get my work uniform and other personal belongings – Can I go home?
First, hire an attorney to dissolve the “No Contact” or “Temporary Protective” Order if one was issued. If there is no time to appear before the Court, call the police and have them escort you into the home to obtain your personal belongings. DO NOT simply return to the premises alone because “you need things for work” or because “I own the house.” Doing this will only expose you to additional criminal liability.
(10) How much will it cost to hire The Hayes Law Firm to represent me?
It depends. The specific circumstances of your case will dictate how much your defense will cost. The attorneys at The Hayes | Wakayama Law Firm are experienced and knowledgeable about all aspects of domestic violence law. Given the serious penalties involved, your lawyer should investigate every aspect of your case from the legality of an alleged confession to the validity of prior convictions if sentencing enhancement is being pursued. The Hayes | Wakayama Law Firm will not short change your case to generate more volume. Conversely, we do not inflate our fees either. In fact, we offer you a free consultation to ensure that you are comfortable and confident with us before you pay us anything.