Domestic Abuse

Domestic Abuse

Domestic Abuse is the Nevada crime of “battery domestic violence” (BDV).  There are two elements to BDV that the prosecutor must prove in court:

  1. Battery, which is when the accused intentionally uses unlawful physical force on the victim, and
  2. The accused and victim are in a familial or domestic relationship.


Battery occurs when someone deliberately touches someone else in a violent, aggressive or merely unwanted way. Common examples of what may constitute battery in Nevada are:

  • hitting (such as punching, slapping, crushing, or pinching)
  • pushing or shoving
  • choking
  • biting
  • cutting
  • burning
  • poisoning
  • spilling or throwing something on a person
  • tugging on the person’s clothes
  • any indirect unlawful touching, such as hitting a car while someone’s inside

Note that a battery does not have to result in injuries for someone to be convicted of it in Nevada. Also note that using unlawful physical force on someone is not a crime unless the act is intentional. However, not all honest accidents let the defendant off the hook for criminal liability:

For example, hitting a person by throwing a glass at him is battery even if the thrower expected the victim would duck in time … this is because the defendant should have reasonably foreseen that it was likely the victim would get hit. For more examples see our article on Nevada battery laws.

Familial or Domestic Relations

A battery becomes “battery domestic violence” in Nevada when the victim and perpetrator are in an intimate, domestic or family relationship such as

  • current or former spouses
  • relatives by blood or marriage
  • housemates (cohabitants)
  • significant others
  • co-parents of a child
  • the victim is under the guardianship of the accused

Therefore the same act of unlawful physical force could be prosecuted as either straight battery or BDV depending on the accused and victim’s relationship. Smacking a friend or stranger is battery, whereas smacking a girlfriend or roommate is battery domestic violence. For more examples see our article on the Nevada definition of battery domestic violence.


A 1st or 2nd domestic abuse offense in a seven-year timespan is a misdemeanor in Nevada carrying the following sentence as long as no deadly weapons, strangulation, or substantial bodily harm was involved:

  • Up to $1,000 in fines,
  • Up to 200 hours of community service,
  • Weekly counseling sessions for up to 1 year, and
  • Up to 6 months in jail, but the judge usually imposes no jail for a 1st offense and 10 days for a 2nd offense

Meanwhile a 3rd domestic abuse offense within seven years is a felony carrying a punishment of 1 to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Finally, domestic abuse that involves strangling, dangerous weapons or infliction of major injuries is a felony carrying up to 15 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.


If you have been arrested for or charged with domestic abuse, seek the counsel of a Reno criminal defense attorney with experience fighting violence related cases. We have successfully defended thousands of assault cases.

There are numerous defenses for domestic abuse, including you were the victim, you acted in self defense, and the incident was an accident. Lee knows all the defenses and can help you get the charges dismissed and can help you get the charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense.

If you have been arrested for domestic abuse, you deserve an experienced criminal defense attorney who will personally handle your case. Call Reno Nevada Law attorney Lee Hotchkin (775) 786-5791 – it’s what we do!