Domestic battery is a serious offense
We actually agree with the Nevada Supreme Court’s ruling that domestic battery constitutes a serious crime and someone accused of it should have the option of a jury trial.
Under current law, anyone suspected and taken into custody for domestic battery must be held for at least 12 hours before being released.
We can point to some instances in Douglas County where people later convicted of more serious crimes didn’t remain in custody that long. Don’t get us wrong, we agree that in a domestic battery case, 12 hours is critical to getting a victim some distance from the assailant.
In Nevada law, crimes are broken down into misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors can be further broken down into petty and serious crimes.
Someone accused of a crime can always ask for a jury trial, but municipal judges and justices of the peace were not required to grant it.
What makes a first domestic battery a serious crime, besides the obvious, is that if convicted, a person loses the fundamental civil right to bear arms.
That has been true since the Brady Bill was approved by Congress and went into effect a quarter of a century ago.
However, in 2015, the Nevada Legislature approved adding the penalty to the state’s statutes. The Supreme Court ruled that means if someone accused of domestic battery wants a trial, they can have one. That doesn’t mean people can’t still be tried by a judge, but now they have the option of facing a jury of their peers.
There are some obvious ramifications for our local courts. We’ve heard about the cramped conditions at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center in Minden and having to call more jurors certainly won’t help.
But as both Douglas County’s justices of the peace relate in a story appearing on page 3, jury trials in criminal misdemeanors are fairly rare. Perhaps there will be more now that people know they’re available, but as with so many things, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.