What Are Your Options When Pleading Not Guilty to Assault
Feb. 1, 2015
Most states, including Nevada, classify simple assault as a misdemeanor except in rare specific circumstances. The most important thing to do if you have been accused of simple assault, or any other crime for that matter, is to contact an attorney to find out what options you have. It is also important to understand the different classifications of this crime as well as any available plea options. Doing research will help you and your attorney decide what is the best solution for your specific situation.
An assault can be classified as simple if it is committed without the use of a dangerous weapon. The crime will fall into one or both of the following two categories.
Assault as a threat
Under this classification, a person can be accused of simple assault even if there was no physical contact. Words alone are not enough to classify a threat as an assault unless the offender also has the ability to carry out the threat and causes the victim to fear for their safety.
Assault as a physical attack
Under this classification, a person can be accused of simple assault if there is physical contact or even attempted physical contact. In the state of Nevada, the physical action must not include a dangerous weapon or it will be classified as a felony.
If you have been accused of simple assault under either of these classifications, you have a few options. The options will vary depending on what you plead and what agreements have been presented to you by the prosecutor.
Going to trial can be long, costly and unpredictable for both parties, which is why prosecutors offer plea agreements. Under the majority of these agreements, the defendant will plead either guilty or no contest to at least one charge and both parties will then decide on a sentencing agreement.
Depending on the the facts of the case as well as the defendant’s criminal record and specific circumstances of the assault, sentencing agreements can be with or without jail time. If the sentencing agreement does not include jail time, the defendant will either serve probation and have the charges dismissed (deferred sentence) or serve probation and have the conviction on their record (suspended sentence).
Plea to lesser charge
Depending on the circumstances of the specific incident, a prosecutor may agree to dismiss the initial charge if the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge such as disorderly conduct. Prosecutors will consider this if the incident didn’t involve serious violence, domestic violence or an attack on a weaker individual.
Some states offer defendants the opportunity to complete a diversion program and have charges dismissed. These programs could include counseling, gaining employment or reporting to a probation officer and are available to defendants who plead not guilty and don’t go to trial. Many of these agreements, however, require the defendant to automatically plead guilty to the initial charge if the program is not completed.
Although simple assault is considered a misdemeanor in the state of Nevada, if you are convicted, the crime will most likely go on your criminal record. Any prior convictions can be used against you if you find yourself accused of a crime later on. This is why it is extremely important to find good representation.
If you feel you have been wrongly accused of simple assault and plan to plead not guilty, a good lawyer can try to get the charges dismissed before trial. If you are facing simple assault charges contact the number one Las Vegas criminal defense attorney, Brian J. Smith at (702) 380-8248 today.