Domestic Violence Cases
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Domestic Violence Defined
Domestic Violence is a single instance of violence or a pattern of coercive control that one person exercises over another. Abusers use physical and sexual violence, threats, profanity and emotional insults as a way to dominate their victims. As time goes on, additional tactics include intimidation, emotional abuse, using children, using coercion and threats, isolation, neglect and economic deprivation.
If you are a victim of domestic violence in the City of Reno and have questions regarding your case or how to file a complaint, please call the Victim/Witness Advocates at 775-334-3067.
The Victim/Witness Advocate can be present at every domestic violence trial and/or hearing to assist victims through the process and answer questions. The assistance of the Victim/Witness Advocate extends beyond the courtroom. The Victim/Witness Advocate often helps victims with housing, counseling, legal aid, medical aid, financial issues, child care, employment and any other hurdles a victim of domestic violence might face. The goal is to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions while maintaining the maximum level of safety for victims.
The Victim/Witness Advocates are available during business hours Monday through Thursday. If the Victim/Witness Advocate is unavailable when you call, please leave a message and the Victim/Witness Advocate will return your call as soon as possible. Please speak clearly and slowly and repeat your telephone number.
Domestic Violence FAQs
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is often times a violent confrontation that occurs between family members or between two people in a relationship who live together. It can happen between a father and daughter/son, mother and daughter/son, an adult child and a parent, or in a dating relationship, but it most often occurs between a man and woman living together, married or not, with the woman being the victim in the overwhelming majority of the cases.
How can a victim advocate help me?
The Domestic Violence Unit advocates can help in many ways: obtaining protective orders; discussing a safety plan; finding a safe place for you, your children and pets to stay; referring you or your children to counseling or financial aid; explaining the court system; providing information about the current status of the case; and accompanying you to court if you have to testify.
Why were charges filed?
Police officers are required by law to make an arrest when called to the scene of domestic violence if they have probable cause to believe you are the victim of a domestic battery. Domestic violence is a crime, and the City Attorney's Office and/or the Reno Police Department file criminal complaints against individuals who commit these crimes.
Will the defendant go to jail?
If convicted, first-time offenders are usually given a suspended sentence, community service, fines, and ordered to attend a batterer's treatment program. A parenting class can be ordered if children are in the home. In addition if alcohol and/or drugs are involved, the defendant may be ordered to a drug/alcohol evaluation. If the defendant has a history of domestic violence or if the injuries were extensive, the defendant has a greater chance of going to jail.
Will I have to testify in court?
Once a trial date is set, the victim and other witnesses will be subpoenaed to testify in court. A subpoena requires that you appear in court. The victim is contacted by the victim advocate in the Reno City Attorney's Office before the trial to discuss the facts and circumstances surrounding the crime.
Will I have to hire an attorney?
No. You are a witness to the crime. When the defendant abused you, he or she violated the laws of the State of Nevada and the City of Reno. The prosecutor from the Reno City Attorney's Office represents the People of the City of Reno and prosecutes the defendant for the crime committed.
Can I drop charges?
No. Unlike a civil case, you are not a party to the case. You are an important witness to a crime. If the defendant is telling you to drop charges, you should tell him/her that you do not have that authority. Decisions to prosecute are made solely by the City Attorney's office.
How can obtain a protection order?
Call 328-3468 for information about obtaining a protection order or go to the Protection Order Advocates Office at the Second Judicial District Court of Washoe County, Family Courthouse (One South Sierra Street, Reno).