Choosing the right legal representative when you have been accused of a crime is the most important decision you are going to make. Years of experience in the realm of criminal defense should be your first concern. New lawyers to the practice do charge less in attorney fees but lack the years of relationship building with the district attorneys that allow for open and frank discussions during the settlement negotiations. Getting charges reduced and/or dismissed come from the other side knowing and have seen the lawyer in action.
Ravenholt & Associates has been practicing criminal defense for over twenty years. We are familiar with all the courts, and have long term relations with the district attorneys and court personnel. We are not saying that “we know the judge” and therefore can promise an outcome on your case that is not logical or legal. What we are saying is sometimes the threat of a good trial that cost the system thousands of dollars plays into the negotiations and gets an offer that is not ordinarily on the table.
Accusations are not convictions
When you are accused of a crime, it simply is an accusation. In America, you are presumed innocent until you have been proven guilty by a standard which is beyond a reasonable doubt. When I was practicing in England, one of the main questions I was asked by other barristers in the Chamber was how I could represent a guilty client. At first I was taken back by this question until it was explained to me that in England, if you tell your barrister that you did the crime, at the next court appearance that barrister would stand up and say to the judge, “you honor I have been professionally embarrassed and ask to be removed from this case.” The judge would then grant the request and appoint another barrister that was next in line in the front row of the court. Never mind that the judge now knows you confessed your guilt to the crime.
Here in America, there are many steps that must be successfully accomplished by the prosecutor before you get convicted. Therefore, you need a good attorney to represent you. The old saying that “only a fool would represent themselves” is very true when it comes to criminal defense.
First the evidence must be gathered and provided to the defense attorney. There are rules that prevent some evidence from being entered into the case. These rules are known to us attorneys that do this practice every day. For example, in a DUI case, if the blood test I taken over two hours from the time of arrest, the results cannot be admitted against the defendant. You will only know this timing information after you get the discovery (evidence gathered by district attorney and shared with defense counsel). You probably did not know this rule and therefore if the district attorney told you that your blood alcohol was over the legal limit by blood test results, you would take a deal because you believed the case was lost. But our attorneys would indicate that the test results do not matter because this evidence cannot be used in trial. We would use this information to negotiate a possible dismissal of charge if other evidence could not substantiate a conviction. Attorneys are import in this kind of case. This was only one example the legal knowledge is power in these situations.
COMMON CRIMINAL CHARGES
Driving under the Influence of Alcohol
NRS 484C.110 Unlawful acts; affirmative defense; additional penalty for violation committed in work zone or pedestrian safety zone. [Effective until the date of the repeal of the federal law requiring each state to make it unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater as a condition to receiving federal funding for the construction of highways in this State.]
1. It is unlawful for any person who:
(a) Is under the influence of intoxicating liquor;
(b) Has a concentration of alcohol of 0.08 or more in his or her blood or breath; or
(c) Is found by measurement within 2 hours after driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle to have a concentration of alcohol of 0.08 or more in his or her blood or breath,
to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle on a highway or on premises to which the public has access.
This Nevada Statute provides the elements of the misdemeanor crime of driving under the influence of alcohol. The Nevada law indicates that if your blood alcohol level is at least .08 percent then you can be found guilty of this crime. This alcohol level is equal to about two or three drinks in the average person. So if you are driving the vehicle and are pulled over after just two drinks, you may be driving under the influence.
Being under physical control of the vehicle is the second part of the elements. This means you are not the passenger but the driver. There is case law that indicates that even if you are parked on the side of the road, if the keys are in the ignition, you are technically driving the vehicle. One case the person was sleeping at the time of the police pulling up and lost the case.
The blood test or breath test must be done within two hours of the arrest. If it is done over two hours, it can not be admitted against you in court. The State can pursue the case on that fact that you were so intoxicated that you were incapable of operating the motor vehicle. The will use the observations of the police officer and his conclusions in his report to assist in the case. This is where retaining counsel is important. If you defeat one element of the crime you will be found not guilty. Incapable of being able to drive is a very subjective test and can be challenged.
The location of where the car is plays a part in the crime. It does not have to be on a street or highway. The vehicle could be in a parking lot. As long as the premises have public access, then you can be arrested.
Although these elements are standard, every case is different and each and every element of the crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If you can defeat one element, then you will be found not guilty of the crime.
NRS 33.018 Acts which constitute domestic violence.
1. Domestic violence occurs when a person commits one of the following acts against or upon the person’s spouse or former spouse, any other person to whom the person is related by blood or marriage, any other person with whom the person has had or is having a dating relationship, any other person with whom the person has a child in common, the minor child of any of those persons, the person’s minor child or any other person who has been appointed the custodian or legal guardian for the person’s minor child:
(a) A battery.
(b) An assault.
(c) Compelling the other person by force or threat of force to perform an act from which the other person has the right to refrain or to refrain from an act which the other person has the right to perform.
(d) A sexual assault.
(e) A knowing, purposeful or reckless course of conduct intended to harass the other person. Such conduct may include, but is not limited to:
(5) Destruction of private property.
(6) Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.
(7) Injuring or killing an animal.
(f) A false imprisonment.
(g) Unlawful entry of the other person’s residence, or forcible entry against the other person’s will if there is a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm to the other person from the entry.
2. As used in this section, “dating relationship” means frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affectional or sexual involvement. The term does not include a casual relationship or an ordinary association between persons in a business or social context.
Domestic violence charges are becoming more frequent in Nevada. The police have a policy when two persons who are in a relationship are arguing and the they are called out to the home. The policy is that they are required to arrest one of the parties to separate them for a twenty four hour period. Although this seems on its face a harsh policy, it comes with a logical basis. If they were to leave the two persons together and later that night one person gets severely injured or even killed, then the police could be sued because they could have prevented this from happening by arresting one person.
The police can use many charges to do the separation but commonly use domestic violence because it puts into place many protections. Even in cases where no battery (physical altercation) has occurred between the parties, they can use the elements of assault to impose this charge. Assault is simply putting someone in apprehension of a physical harm. No touching is required and as long as the person was fearful of being hurt, the arrest would be proper.
But an arrest and proving the matter in trial are two different things. If there is no physical altercation, then the fear or apprehension of a future assault is difficult to sustain. Attorney’s can assist in proving that there was no domestic violence at the time in question.
I raise a more serious crime that occurs in arguments between people in a relationship. It is the battery that occurs when one person touches another and it is done around the throat area. It does not have to be the intent to strangle the other person but the physical marks on the neck that gets people in trouble. And when I say trouble I mean it. The penalties run from 2 to 10 year sentences to even life in prison. These are the hardest cases to fight but with the possibility of life in prison, this is when you must hire a good attorney. Never attempt to strangle your lover in the State of Nevada.