The charge of committing an act of battery against a designated peace officer or public officer in the state of Nevada should be taken very seriously. The penalties for a conviction of this crime can include up to 15 years in prison, depending on the circumstances involved. Anyone who is facing charges of battery on an officer should seek experienced legal counsel as soon as possible to allow their attorney the time needed to build what can be a complicated defense.
Defining “Battery on a Peace Officer”
When you make contact that is considered by law and based on the circumstances surrounding the act to be intentionally harmful or offensive to another person, this is an act of battery. The state of Nevada legally defines battery specifically as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another” (NRS 200.481). This applies not only to acts of battery committed between two individuals but also to an act of battery that Nevada gives further distinction as battery that is committed against people who are considered by state law to be in occupational positions that are protected. This includes police officers but also covers what are more widely referred to as “peace officers”, as well as other public officers who are included in the definitions of this statute.
What is a Peace Officer?
There are three categories of “peace officers’ recognized by the state of Nevada, which are differentiated by the type and amount of training they have had and the duties that are required of them for their particular category.
● Category 1 Peace Officers
This category contains the officers that we all generally think of when we think of “police officers”. They receive the most training and have the authority to arrest, conduct vehicle pursuits and carry firearms.
● Category 2 Peace Officers
This category of officers has similar authority and responsibilities to Category 1 officers, but are not technically considered by the state to be police officers, due to the lower number of training hours and academy time. Category 2 officers typically hold positions in courtrooms, at school districts or community colleges, and other official state departments.
● Category 3 Peace Officers
This category is made up of jail and prison guards. While they require less training time in general, the training and certification differ from the other categories because they are specific to the duties of a corrections officer.
Other Recognized Officers in Nevada
The state of Nevada further includes protection against battery for those in the following occupations:
● Fire fighters (both full time, salaried members of the Fire Department, as well as those in volunteer positions)
● Supreme Court justices, Court of Appeals judges, district judges, justices of the peace, municipal judges, magistrates, and court commissioners
● Employees of the State whose official duties require them to make home visits
● Health care providers, including physicians, licensed physician assistants, physical therapists, optometrists, nurses, dentists, dental hygienists, pharmacists, ambulance and air ambulance attendants, psychologists, social workers, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and further distinctions of health care (as defined in NRS 200.471)
● Taxicab drivers or transit operators performing their duty
● Sports officials, specifically when based upon their performance of their duties at a sporting event (further defined in NRS 41.630)
What Constitutes Battery for This Charge?
Battery – an intentional and unlawful act of force or violence – can include the following common examples, and more depending on the circumstances:
● Pushing, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting
● Burning, stabbing, or poisoning
● Throwing of an object at the victim or pulling an object from the victim’s hand
Penalties for Battery of a Peace Officer
The penalties for a conviction of this crime will depend on the specific circumstances of each case, which are detailed below.
Battery of an Officer With No Extenuating Circumstances
This is a gross misdemeanor with the following penalties:
● Up to 364 days in county jail
● Up to $2,000 in fines
Battery on an Officer Involving Strangulation or Substantial Bodily Harm
This is a category B felony with the following penalties:
● From 2 to 10 years in state prison
● Up to $10,000 in fines
Battery on an Officer Involving Deadly Weapons
This is also a category B felony, but breaks down into two further sets of penalties.
If no strangulation or substantial bodily harm occurred:
● From 2 to 10 years in state prison
● Up to $10,00 in possible fines
If strangulation or substantial bodily harm did occur:
● From 2 to 15 years in state prison
● Up to $10,000 in possible fines
Defending a Charge of Battery on a Peace Officer
Common defenses to this charge are often built based on the particular circumstances of the alleged events on a case by case basis, but will typically include attempting to prove that:
● No physical contact or violence occurred and that the charge was more accurately a lesser offense (such as resisting arrest or a breach of peace).
● There was a lack of intention based on the account of witnesses or video recordings of the alleged act, or that although some contact was made, that it was accidental in nature.
● The officer in question was not actually on active duty at the time the alleged act took place, in which case the charge can often be reduced to battery or dismissed.
If you or a loved one have been charged with the crime of battery on an officer, we would like to stress the importance of taking immediate steps to secure the assistance of an experienced and professional attorney who is capable of building an effective defense to a charge of this nature. We encourage you to contact our offices today for an evaluation of your case. The sooner you speak with an attorney about your charges, the sooner we can help you be sure that not only are your rights being protected but that your side of the story is being heard.