In tort law, a protected class of people generally refers to people of a certain race, gender, color, religion, or sexual orientation. Certain criminal statutes in Nevada also protect certain categories of people from harm by making the crime worse if the victim belongs to one of the protected classes. One of these criminal statutes is assault.
What Is Assault on a Protected Class in Nevada?
Under Nevada law, this charge occurs when a person places another individual in fear of immediate harm or attempts to commit a battery against the individual. Also, the individual, or victim, is part of a protected group of individuals acting in their capacity as a protected individual. The person committing the assault must also know or should have known that the victim belongs to one of the protected classes.
What Are the Protected Classes Under Nevada’s Assault Law?
In terms of assault charges, the following members are protected classes:
- State officials
- Police officers
- School employees
- Healthcare providers
- Medical professionals
- Taxi drivers
- Sporting officials
- Transit officials
Do State Laws Resemble Federal Laws?
State laws may often be more inclusive than federal statutes regarding protected classes. A state law (such as HEPA) may also protect:
- Sexual orientation
- Marital Status
- Criminal records/arrests
State and local laws may vary. You may need to contact a lawyer if you’re unsure whether a class is protected.
What If a Deadly Weapon Is Involved?
If a person uses a deadly weapon in the commission of an assault against a member of one of the listed protected classes, then the crime is more severe. If a deadly weapon is used in the assault against a member of a protected class, it becomes a felony.
What Is a Deadly Weapon?
A deadly weapon is any instrument designed to cause injury or death. This weapon can range from a shotgun to brass knuckles.
Different regions may have different laws on deadly weapons. Generally, any weapon that kills or causes serious physical harm can be considered deadly. Owning or carrying deadly weapons often requires a license.
Can Everyday Items be Considered Deadly Weapons?
Furthermore, everyday items can be classified as deadly weapons. It all depends on how the item is used. When scissors are used to cause serious harm to another individual, even though they weren’t created for that purpose, they may be considered a deadly weapon.
Among other everyday objects that are often used as deadly weapons are:
- Baseball bats, golf clubs, etc.
- Branches or sticks
- Metal chains or other items
- Using razors or pencils that are sharp
- Throwable items
Some jurisdictions even consider pets such as dogs as deadly weapons, depending on the circumstances. It may be considered a deadly weapon when a dog has been trained to attack on command, and the owner commands it. In some areas, martial arts experts (like black belts) must register their hands and feet as deadly weapons.
Can Deadly Weapons Be Used for Self-Defense?
When it comes to self-defense laws, you can use deadly force only if deadly force is used against you first. If someone fires a gun at you, you may be able to defend yourself with a gun or other deadly weapon.
On the other hand, a person who attacks you with only their fists is unlikely to be able to use a deadly weapon. In addition, if you attack someone with a deadly weapon, most laws permit them to defend themselves.
Assaulting a Protected Class Member With a Deadly Weapon: What Is the Penalty?
Using a deadly weapon while assaulting a protected class member constitutes a Category B felony.
An individual convicted of a Category B felony faces the following penalties:
- One to six years in prison
- $5,000 fine
- Prison time
What Are Some Examples of Aggravating Factors?
An aggravating factor is any circumstance that worsens the crime in question. Factors that aggravate a crime can significantly increase its punishment. As each jurisdiction defines aggravating factors differently, examples of aggravating factors differ widely.
Commonly accepted factors include, but are not limited to:
- Previous criminal record;
- Tool(s) used to commit the crime;
- Cruelty, or how the crime was committed; or
Other aggravating factors may include the status of the victim, the intent of the attacker, or the extent of injury that was inflicted. Assault with a deadly weapon or assault with the intent to commit another crime may be listed as aggravating factors in specific regulations.
Aggravated assault is also referred to as felony assault. Felony assault is based on the same underlying concept as a misdemeanor assault; however, an additional factor makes it more severe.
Therefore, the crime has more serious consequences. When the defendant commits a simple assault, and some other aggravating factor is included, it is likely to be charged as a felony.
If I Have Been Accused of Aggravated Assault, What Should I Do?
Consult a criminal defense lawyer immediately if you are accused of aggravated assault. The crime of aggravated assault carries severe penalties and criminal charges. The punishments for aggravated assault are much more severe.
Some of these consequences may include, but are not limited to:
- Long-term imprisonment;
- Inclusion of the crime on the defendant’s criminal record;
- Increased fines;
- Loss of the right to possess deadly weapons; or
- Other civil liabilities such as compensating the victim for any injuries or losses that resulted from the aggravated assault.
You may be able to defeat aggravated assault charges by taking certain actions. Defending your rights in court begins with hiring an attorney. It is also important to maintain as much evidence as possible to support your case in order to improve your chances of beating an aggravated assault charge.
How Can I Prevent Aggravating Factors From Being Used Against Me?
As mentioned above, the prosecution must demonstrate that an aggravating factor exists beyond a reasonable doubt. So, one way to stop the prosecution from arguing aggravating factors at sentencing would be to aggressively defend against the prosecution’s case for the existence of an aggravating factor.
For instance, the defendant would want to question the prosecution’s evidence and work to exclude it by arguing that it is not admissible for various reasons. The evidence might not be admissible because it is the outcome of an illegal search or seizure. Or, some evidence might be inadmissible as hearsay. An experienced defense lawyer would study all the methods for excluding evidence.
Ultimately, even if aggravating factors are established, the defense can raise any mitigating factors to counter the aggravating factors and lower the sentence. Mitigating factors are circumstances related to the crime or the defendant in question to lessen the defendant’s sentence.
These elements may include the defendant’s remorse, the defendant’s lack of a prior criminal record, the defendant’s insignificant role in the crime, the defendant’s drug addiction, and, hopefully, their efforts to stop using drugs. Mitigation factors reduce the defendant’s guilt.
Do I Need to Talk With a Lawyer?
It is vital that you talk to a Nevada criminal lawyer about your assault charge. If you have good legal representation, you might be able to avoid prison time or reduce or drop the charges. Use LegalMatch to find a criminal lawyer in your area today.