If you’ve been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, you may face serious consequences. Your future is at stake. You could be facing time in prison and steep fines if convicted of this crime. However, you still have rights that you need to protect as you fight against these charges.
Therefore, it’s essential to know your rights and responsibilities. Several defenses could warrant a reduction of your charges. For example, if you were protecting yourself from an attacker or did not use the weapon in an assaultive manner, your charges could be dropped.
A Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer can handle your charges in Nevada courts. Our attorneys have handled all manner of criminal cases involving assault with a deadly weapon and other violent crimes, so they can offer solid legal counsel on your case.
What Is a Deadly Weapon?
According to the Nevada Revised Statute §193.165, a deadly weapon is an instrument designed to result in bodily harm. Therefore, several devices can be categorized as deadly weapons in Nevada so long as they can cause death or injury.
Nevada’s laws recognize that the following items fall under the deadly weapons category:
- A spring gun
- A Billy club
- A revolver or pistol
- A nun chuck or trefoil
- A blackjack or metal knuckles
- A dirk or dagger
- A paint gun
- A switchblade knife
- Any explosive or incendiary device
According to NRS 200.471, an assault is “unlawfully attempting to use physical force against another person or intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm.” A deadly weapon assault in Nevada is when someone uses a weapon or instrument that could cause death or great bodily harm to another person. The victim does not have to suffer any injuries for this crime to be charged.
For example, in the case of a traffic altercation where two drivers argue over who has the right of way, if one driver gets out of their car and points a gun at the other driver, this can be considered assault with a deadly weapon.
Other examples of deadly weapon assault include:
- Threatening someone with a pistol aimed at his or her face
- Throwing a potentially harmful object in someone’s direction
- Brandishing a knife at someone’s face or body
- Pointing a gun at someone
Determining whether someone used a weapon in an assault can be complicated: if a person threatens to kill you with their hands, are they using a deadly weapon? If someone smashes you over the head with a glass bottle, does that qualify? The answer depends on proper legal interpretation. A Nevada criminal defense lawyer can help determine if your case qualifies.
The Difference Between Deadly Weapon Assault and Regular Assault
The main difference between simple assault and deadly weapon assault is that the latter involves using a deadly weapon (a weapon with the potential of causing bodily harm). This distinction is often important in determining an individual’s penalties if convicted of assault.
Deadly Weapon Assault Penalties
Assault with a deadly weapon is a category B felony in Nevada (NRS 200.471(2)(b). The penalties include up to 6 years imprisonment in the Nevada Department of Corrections and fines up to $5,000. However, a Las Vegas assault charge defense lawyer may be able to plea bargain the charge and reduce it to a simple battery (NRS 200.481), which is only a misdemeanor.
Simple Assault Penalties
In Nevada, the crime of simple assault is defined as an attempt or threat to inflict injury on another person. It does not require that the suspect actually inflict any harm or even make contact with the victim. The verbal threat is enough for this charge.
A simple assault is categorized as a misdemeanor, carrying a penalty of 6 months in jail and/or a $1000 fine. A lawyer can help negotiate with the court to serve in the community service instead of jail time.
Battery with Substantial Harm Penalties
This is when the assault causes substantial injury (cuts, broken bones, etc.) to the victim. This is a category C felony that carries up to 5 years imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $10,000.
Defenses to Assault With Deadly Weapon Charges
While assault with a deadly weapon is a serious charge, there are defenses available. The most common defenses to assault with deadly weapon charges are:
#1. The Accused Lacked Intent to Cause Harm
Intention is an essential element of an assault charge. If the prosecution cannot prove that the accused had the intent to cause the victim injury, then there can be no conviction. The prosecution must prove that the accused knew or should have known that his actions would likely result in injury instead of accidentally causing damage.
Self-defense is a complete defense to assault with deadly weapon charges if all elements are met. In Nevada, self-defense applies if you have a reasonable belief that the aggressor poses an immediate threat. Secondly, you’re not to use unnecessary force while combating the aggressor. This means a person can still be prosecuted if their use of force was excessive.
#3. No Lethal Weapon Involved
For assault with deadly weapon charges to apply, there must have been some type of weapon involved in the crime. For example, if you threaten to shoot someone but are not carrying a gun at the moment, this would not qualify as an assault with a deadly weapon offense, as there was no actual use of a dangerous instrument or object during the crime.
#4. Lack of Reasonable Apprehension
You can’t be convicted of assault with a deadly weapon if the victim didn’t reasonably believe that they were in imminent danger. To prove this defense, the prosecutor must show that the victim did believe that they were in danger and that belief was reasonable under the circumstances presented at the time of your arrest
#5. The Accuser Consented
If you have been accused of assaulting another person during a sporting event or other activity where physical contact is expected, consent may be a viable defense. For example, participants during a boxing match understand that blows are part of the event. The same concept applies to wrestling or playfighting. If parties somehow consented to be assaulted, then there are no valid assault charges.
Plea Bargains for Assault With a Lethal Weapon
A Las Vegas criminal defense attorney can help with plea bargains. A plea bargain is an agreement between a defendant and the prosecution to effect a reduction in charges or sentencing recommendations.
In most cases, plea bargains are beneficial because they allow the defendant to avoid going through a trial and possibly facing harsher penalties. The prosecution also saves time and resources by not having to go through all of the evidence collection and witness testimony that comes with trials.
The advantage of reducing the case is that the assault with deadly weapon case may be sealed five (5) years after the case ends. However, when reduced to a simple assault, the waiting period decreases to 1 year or immediately if the charge is dismissed.
How Can a Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer Help?
If you have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon in Las Vegas or anywhere else in Clark County, a Las Vegas assault charge defense lawyer can help. A lawyer can help determine the available defenses and work on building your case for the best possible outcome. Your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges or lesser penalties if possible.
A criminal defense lawyer can help you find ways to avoid the court system. For example, an assault with a deadly weapon defense attorney in Las Vegas may negotiate with the prosecutor for a diversion program that would allow you to avoid jail time and a conviction on your record.
In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to negotiate with prosecutors or judges to get you sentenced to probation rather than jail time. Probation is often a better option because it allows people who have been accused of crimes to serve their sentences outside of prison walls.
Criminal Defense for Assault With a Deadly Weapon
If you or a loved one has been charged with a deadly weapon assault in Las Vegas, Nevada, our lawyers at De Castroverde Law Group can help. You deserve the best representation possible in your case. Our lawyers can fight tirelessly to protect your rights and interests. We can build your defense and work towards achieving the best possible outcome for you.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and let us handle your criminal charge.