Three Common Defenses Against Child Abuse Charges

Many instances of child abuse are tied to excessive use of corporal punishment. That is, the parent goes beyond disciplining a child for bad behavior and veers straight into outright inflicting pain. Repeated instances of spanking or hitting are common, as well as cases where the child is kept in their room and barred from doing things outside for a set period, like eating dinner with the family.

In the face of these allegations, many defendants have come up with ways to prove their innocence. These arguments can range from claims of simple misunderstanding, to outright justifications about why they did it. Below are just three common claims against child abuse charges.

Cultural Defense

Corporal punishment has been around for most of human history, maybe even longer. It’s been around so long, in fact, that different cultures have their own take on how to implement it and how important it is for maintaining family relationships. It is a reason why many people facing child abuse charges related to disciplining their children will claim that it is part of their culture. That is, the parents grew up in an environment where parents are obligated to correct their children through physical means. This defense is slowly being undermined as governments across the world are slowly adapting the principle that corporal punishment is an abuse of children’s rights.

Proportionality

Some defendants justify their actions by claiming that they only acted within their limits. For example, a parent may claim that they only intended to spank their child as a warning; they did not intend to cause long-term physical pain. Defendants may think that they enacted a punishment proportional to what the child deserves. However, there are instances where the defendant clearly acted beyond what is proportional to a child’s misbehavior, i.e., striking the child for whining about not getting a toy instead of just reprimanding them.

Accidents

This particular argument contends that the corporal punishment itself did not cause harm to the child; instead it was inflicted due to an accident that happened during or after the fact. For example, the defendant may claim that the child hit their head while trying to run away from a spanking, causing severe injury. While this can explain away light bruises or bumps, it will have a hard time standing in court if more severe harm is present (like visible wounds and cuts, or outright life-threatening injuries).

Defending against a child abuse charge can be difficult, but it does not mean one has to resort to common defenses to get a dismissal. Speak to a veteran domestic violence attorney and find a more effective way to prove innocence.

How Commutation Works for Different Defendants

Commuting a sentence refers to the shortening of a defendant’s period of punishment. It can come about due to certain positive circumstances, like good behavior while incarcerated or a general amnesty for certain inmates. While not quite to the level of a full pardon, a commuted sentence still provides relief to a defendant after getting convicted.

Commutation follows a uniform process before being approved or denied. However, it applies differently depending on what type of prisoner sent the appeal. Let’s look at how commutation works for different defendants.

Regular Prisoners

Regular prisoners follow the standard procedure for appealing for a commutation. They simply have to submit the papers to the Pardon Board, wait for their deliberation, and hope that no opposition to the commutation may derail their appeal. However, they may be blocked from appealing if they are viable for parole within one year of the next Pardons Board meeting. Special circumstances may waive this restriction, however.

Parolees

While prisoners eligible on parole may be restricted from appeal for a commuted sentence, prisoners already on parole can still be allowed to do so. However, they can only be allowed if they have either served at least ten years of a life sentence or half the period of their non-life sentence. On the contrary, they can be restricted from getting a commutation if the State Board of Parole Commissioners filed a petition to modify the sentence, or the judge allowed the modification of the sentence.

Prisoners on Death Row or Life Without Parole

Commutation of sentences for death row inmates and those on life without parole differs from the earlier types because it relies on time constraints. A death row inmate can get their sentence commuted to a charge that can qualify for parole if they committed the crime while they were under 18 years old. For older inmates, however, they can only appeal for a commutation if their conviction was handed down prior to 1 July 1995. The same requirements go for life inmates, as well.

Different types of prisoners have to deal with different requirements before they can appeal to have their sentence reduced. Ask a defense attorney about other circumstances that can affect the chances of getting the request approved.

Three Pointers Used to Refute a Domestic Battery Charge

Las Vegas domestic violence attorneys exert all their efforts to effectively represent their clients in court. They focus on their work, whether it’s a first-time battery offense or a felony violence charge.

Because of the nature of the charges they handle, domestic violence lawyers go the extra mile to get their clients’ case dismissed. They will look for key facts that can help strengthen their case. Listed below are three pointers that can help refute a domestic battery charge.

Additional Favorable Evidence

Part of the defense’s job in a criminal hearing is to secure evidence that can prove their client’s innocence. This may include a solid alibi, witness testimony, expert opinion regarding the alleged crime, or footage. Advanced evidence like test results or fingerprint data may also come into play. In the case of a battery charge, the defense will look into medical records, family histories, or recent altercations involving both parties.

Weak Points In the Argument

The prosecution may have strong evidence pinning the defendant to the crime, but there are instances where they can go too far. They can get overconfident with their case that they tend to make mistakes. The defense will keep a lookout for loopholes and mismatching testimonies in the prosecution’s case. They will also be vigilant about evidence that appears to be too generalized or lacking in details related to the case as a whole.

Police Misconduct

There are instances where a defendant’s ‘guilt’ was gained by force, usually by an officer of the law. The defense will use police misconduct throughout the case as it can easily invalidate any testimony, confession, or evidence presented against the defendant. The defense can point out coerced confessions, illegal searches, or excessive use of force, provided they have evidence. The lawyers can also seek out possible instances of mishandled evidence and gross incompetence/neglect on the part of the officer on the scene to weaken the prosecution’s charges further.

Three Types of Probable Cause for a Car Search in Las Vegas

A person driving in Las Vegas may encounter a traffic stop from time to time. In some of these traffic stops, the law enforcers may inquire if they conduct a vehicle search. Usually, the driver can decline, citing their right to refuse a search without a warrant. The officers can back down after that.

However, there are instances where the police may find something suspicious about the driver or their vehicle, and will proceed with the search whether or not the driver consents. This situation, known as probable cause, allows police to conduct a search if they believe that evidence of a crime is present. Let’s look at three different types of probable cause that can lead to a car search in Las Vegas.

Detecting Contraband

Police can cite probable cause for an unwarranted search of a vehicle if they find contraband material prior to the search. In most cases, it is a visual identification; for example, police officers find drug paraphernalia, restricted types of firearms, or possible counterfeit items. The attending officer may also find out about the contraband by other means; for instance, the police detect the strong scent of marijuana in a vehicle that is not related to a licensed vendor.

Visual Confirmation Prior to Stop

There may be situations where police notice a driver or someone else putting suspicious material into a car in an area close to a stop. The police may see this a short distance away from the stop itself, or they may observe the action via traffic cameras in a road near the stop. If the vehicle heads for the stop afterwards, the attending officers can conduct a search through probable cause by citing the incident they just witnessed.

Confessing Driver

Many criminal offenders can be jumpy, nervous, or suspicious. They can be very defensive if they think that someone knows they’ve committed a crime and are sniffing them out. In the case of a traffic stop, a guilty driver may panic at the sight of policemen flagging them down. If they feel like they are cornered, they might confess to a crime when the officers ask for their consent to a search. Conversely, they may choose to flee the scene, but that gives the officers even more probable cause to search the vehicle once they catch up to it.

Probable cause gives officers greater reach when it comes to conducting searches. Of course, this doesn’t mean the owner can’t fight back. Ask your defense lawyer about how to defend yourself against charges related to probable cause situations.

Three Other Parties Who Can Read A Presentence Investigation Report

The presentence investigation report is an important legal document compiled to determine how light or how heavy a convicted individual’s penalty should be. It is compiled by Probation and Parole officers who conduct a thorough investigation of the defendant’s background and circumstances. The sentencing process cannot proceed without the PSI report to back up any penalties that the court goes ahead with.

In many cases, the court provides copies of certain legal documents to individuals related to a case, which can include the defendant, the plaintiff, and their respective legal counsels. In the case of a PSI report, other parties can avail of copies via official request; it is still classified to the general public, however. Let’s look at three other parties who can access your PSI report on-demand.

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement agencies won’t always let a defendant off even if they’re already serving time. Most law enforcers can request a copy of a PSI report for future reference. Their copy can be used for:

  • Possible arrests in the future for a similar offense
  • Possible arrest in the future for a different offense
  • Background check when the defendant moves to a different state
  • Reference information when the defendant escape from prison/becomes a fugitive after skipping probation

Health Department

It may surprise some people that the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services can request access to a defendant’s PSI report. However, the department needs this information so they can better understand the physical, mental, psychological and emotional state of convicted individuals so they can provide better services to them. Matters pertaining to mentally-disturbed defendants, stress and nervousness, and the insanity defense are also of interest to health officials. Finally, crimes related to substance abuse are also recorded for future reference.

Gaming Control Board

The Nevada Gaming Control Board takes interests in crimes pertaining to cheating, card counting, casino markers, and theft. They also take notice of individuals who may be involved in skimming and organized crime within the state’s gaming industry. PSI reports can give Gaming Board officials important information regarding people involved in the aforementioned crimes, allowing them to provide proper stopgaps. They can also identify who to add to the Black Book. 

The ones listed above are just three of a group of government agencies who can access your PSI information through a formal request. Ask your lawyer about who else can read your PSI file.

Three Reasons Why Aggravating Factors Harm a Defendant

Aggravating factors are always bad news for your criminal charges. If you happen to be dealing with a murder complaint, for example, the proseuction will find ways to make the penalty more severe. They may even look for aggravating factors that can make it more difficult for the defense to overturn the charge.

Maybe this is your first criminal charge and you have no idea what a mitigating factor is. Why is it important for you to know it? Let’s look at three reasons why.

Increased Culpability

Mitigating factors aim to increase a person’s culpability, or guilt, for the crime they are accused of. Once the prosecution finds features that can determine a person’s direct link to the crime, they can use this angle to get a conviction much easier. It can also be harder to have a charge overturned once more aggravating factors connected to the defendant come to light.

More Severe Penalties

Most criminal cases may only be considered misdemeanors in some cases. As such, the accompanying penalties can also be relatively minor, like a brief period in prison, community service, mandatory rehabilitation, and fines. Aggravating factors can do away with all that by putting you at risk of an elevated charge. From a simple misdemeanor, other factors can have you facing a category C felony, with the equivalent penalties at risk. Even one pointer can have your charge raised up.

Possibility of Capital Punishment

Getting your misdemeanor charge elevated to a felony is bad enough with aggravating factors. However, they can also go all the way, putting you face to face with a possible death sentence for your charge. Worse, if the factor found is severe enough, no amount of counterpoints or mitigating factors can reduce the charge. The best you can hope is to present compelling evidence of your innocence, get a successful appeal or pardon, or negotiate a plea bargain.

Don’t ignore any possible aggravating factors that they can array against you! Ask your defense attorney about how to deal with them in court.

The Nevada DMV License Suspension System

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles is responsible for providing driving licenses for the state’s vehicle owners. It also enacts rules that drivers must follow if they wish to keep driving in the state. The DMV can impose penalties on drivers who break these rules, including a license suspension or a revocation.

Of course, the DMV does not immediately penalize a driver if they are accused of committing a driving offense in Nevada. There is a process to follow when suspending licenses, for example. Let’s look at the Nevada DMV’s license suspension system.

Defining Suspensions

Before we get into details, let’s first explain what a suspension is in this context. A suspension refers to the temporary invalidation of a person’s driving license in the state. In effect, the driver cannot operate a motor vehicle in Nevada for a set period of time. Doing so will lead to even more penalties and possible extended prison time.

A license can be suspended for a number of reasons. In most cases, it is a penalty for reckless behavior behind the wheel, such as overspeeding, beating the red light, or getting involved in collisions and near collisions that do not involve injuries or loss of life. In some cases, getting arrested (but not yet convicted) for drunk driving can lead to an automatic 90-day suspension.

The Demerit System

For most driving crimes in Nevada, the DMV applies a points-based system to determine who is at risk of suspension. Certain charges have their own points, based on frequency and severity. A person with at least 12 demerit points in their record within the span of a year automatically gets their license suspended for a period of six months. The points system is briefly listed below:

  • Speeding between 1mph to 10mph of the posted limit: 1 point
  • Speeding between 11mph to 20mph of the posted limit: 2 points
  • Speeding between 21 mph to 30 mph of the posted limit: 3 points
  • Speeding between 31 mph to 40 mph of the posted limit: 4 points
  • Speeding at 41 mph or more of the posted limit: 5 points
  • Texting while driving: 4 points
  • Disobeying an officer: 4 points
  • Running a STOP sign: 4 points
  • Failure to give information or render aid at the scene of an accident: 6 points
  • Reckless driving: 8 points

Note that a person’s demerit points reset to zero only after a year has passed.

Suspension Relief

The DMV allows defendants to appeal against DUI-related license suspensions. They simply have to attend a DMV hearing regarding their situation, present their case, and await the decision.

If you’ve completed your license’s suspension period and you wish to have it reinstated, you will have to submit the paperwork to the DMV. On top of their standard forms, you may be required to submit other documents (insurance papers for example) as well. The length of time and types of documents required may depend on the severity of the case that led to the suspension.

License suspensions are no minor penalty; the accompanying penalties for violating them can compound an already tricky legal position. Consult your lawyer about how to minimize the chances of getting your license suspended in Nevada.

What’s the Difference Between a Jail and a Prison?

In the public consciousness, a ‘jail’ and a ‘prison’ are one and the same. To most people, they are just two terms for a facility that detains prisoners who committed crimes. It is not uncommon to hear ‘she went to jail after being convicted’ in regular conversations.

What many people may not know is that these terms actually refer to different correctional facilities. Jails and prisons actually play different roles within Nevada’s justice system. Let’s look at the differences between these two.

What’s a Jail?

A jail is a correctional facility meant to temporarily hold a defendant after their arrest. Defendants stay in jail at least until they have posted bail for their crimes, unless their charge does not allow bail or they choose not to post it. It also holds defendants who are awaiting trial for their crimes.

People are partially right in thinking that people do go to jail as punishment. However, people staying in jail after a conviction are only misdemeanor offenders, and don’t stay very long. At most, they will spend six months in jail to serve their sentence.

What’s a Prison?

A prison is a correctional facility meant for long-term or permanent incarceration of convicted individuals. All of its detainees are felony offenders and serving out their sentences in the facility. Many of its inmates are serving time for committing dangerous crimes.

Prison security ranges from minimum (or around the same level as a county jail) to extremely heavy, depending on the prison. Maximum-security prisons holding high-risk detainees are often equipped with high-end security equipment to deter escapes and staffed with personnel well-trained for handling such prisoners.

The justice system is a complex network with different sections that play a significant part. Knowing how its seemingly similar segments work actually differ from each other can help you better understand how justice is served.

Comparing Pardons to Records Sealing

Post-conviction relief procedures for crimes in Nevada proceed almost immediately after the sentence is read out. This usually involves appeals for a retrial or requests to invalidate the verdict. For convictions that happened further in the past, other options are often in place. Getting a pardon is one of the most common steps taken.

A pardon is a major first step in a convicted individual’s journey to get their life back. However, it does not always have all the benefits of post-conviction relief; some other factors, like record sealing, are an entirely different matter. Let’s compare how pardons and records sealing stand up to each other.

Receiving Pardons

Pardons are generally legally-recognized declarations that a person is forgiven of the crimes they have committed. The pardon is handed down by a higher executive authority, often after a thorough legal review or as part of a general amnesty program. It also may or may not require the defendant to submit a request, depending on the circumstances of the crime.

The benefits of a pardon in Nevada are considerable. For one, pardoned individuals regain most of their civil rights. They can once again apply for employment, register for a gun license, purchase properties and vote, among other things. These things can still be affected by public perception and other legal implications, however.

A person’s legal record stays with them for a long time. It arguably has a greater effect on a person’s post-conviction life than the conviction itself, as it also lists all other legal records they may have had in the past. Certain individuals often look at a person’s legal record prior to dealing with them, like employers, business owners or service providers and may deny certain options to the person, however.

Records sealing help in these kinds of situations. The process puts a person’s legal record in a sealed archive that no entity can view except in the most extreme circumstances. Once in effect, a person will technically lose their criminal records. With the records hidden, a person will have less to worry about people doing background checks on them for various purposes.

Pardons vs Sealing

Both receiving a pardon and sealing criminal records offer major post-conviction relief to an individual after they’ve served a major sentence. However, their benefits and drawbacks set them apart significantly.

  • Pardons can automatically restore a person’s rights as a free person. However, their previous convictions (particularly the one that they were convicted for) remain in their legal records, potentially putting a crutch in their attempts to reintegrate.
  • Records sealing means that potential employers, firearms sellers, and certain service providers will not see any criminal records when they conduct background checks. On the other hand, it can still be unsealed under really severe circumstances. For example, a sealed record will be unsealed if you wish to work in government, or if you get charged for a new crime in the near future.

Post-conviction relief helps a defendant get most of their life back, but many of these options come with their own pros and cons. Consult a defense attorney to understand which post-conviction option will fit your circumstances.

How Nevada Law Penalizes Own Cognizance Violators

An own cognizance release is a legal process where a previously-booked defendant can avoid jail time and bail by submitting a written document guaranteeing that they will be on their best behavior outside of prison. Basically, it’s a promissory note claiming that the defendant will attend all court hearings and avoid committing another offense as long as the case is being heard.

Ideally, the defendant will be true to their word and act accordingly. However, there are instances where they fail to live up to their promises. In such conditions, Nevada law acts accordingly and penalizes these OR violators with the following.

Immediate Arrest

The court handling your case immediately sees you as a threat to the community (or to yourself) and will file a bench warrant to get you back in. Nevada law grants an authority to local law enforcement to arrest an individual on OR release if they have probable cause to believe that he has violated his own terms. If the defendant is arrested outside of the state, they waive their extradition rights. The rules regarding the arrest for an OR violator fall under NRS 178.4851.

Immediate Incarceration

Related to the above, a defendant found violating their own cognizance duties may be subjected to immediate incarceration after their re-arrest. The court in charge can also choose to prevent the defendant from posting bail. This, of course, is subject to conditions relating to the defendant and the case. For example, the judge may just impose a slightly larger bail bond if the defendant was re-arrested for a misdemeanor, or deny it if the defendant was acting recklessly after release. Again, factors like public safety or the well-being of parties related to the case will be taken into account.

Paying Additional Fees

It was stated earlier that defendants on an own recognizance release may be arrested even if they are already out-of-state. However, even this comes at a price; as one of the penalties for violating OR, the defendant is required to reimburse all costs incurred for the duration that they were being searched. That means that the defendant may find themselves paying for their captors’ own travel expenses for as long as they were chasing them, including food and board at the most extreme situations.

Revocation of Privileges

Sometimes, defendants get several benefits offered to them as a reward for good behavior. If they choose to violate their OR duties, however, some of those privileges are immediately revoked, with little to no chance of being reinstated for the rest of the case. These revoked privileges may include freedom of movement, the aforementioned bail bonds, reduced prison sentences, and plea deals.

Penalties for failing to follow your own recognizance rules will add severely to any potential penalties you can get if you are convicted. Always stick to your OR dues to stay out of even worse legal trouble later on.