This past September, a Carson City man allegedly hit his fiancée with a water bottle, poured water on her, and shoved her to the ground. That same month, a family broke the law by feeding wild horses and their young daughter was kicked in the face, fortunately without serious injury, by one of the animals.
What the two stories have in common is that they both deal with misdemeanors under Nevada law, but they represent two different types of misdemeanors ― ordinary and gross.
An ordinary misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in the county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The Clark County man who hit his fiancée with the water bottle was charged with domestic battery, a misdemeanor. Other misdemeanors include shoplifting, prostitution and vandalism.
Ordinary misdemeanors are tried before a judge, not a jury. For most misdemeanors, if you are found guilty, you can get your record sealed two years after your release or after the lifting of a suspended sentence.
A gross misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in the county jail and a fine of up to $2,000. In the story about the wild horses, a Nevada Department of Agriculture official warned that feeding a feral (wild) horse is a gross misdemeanor. Other gross misdemeanors include stalking, false imprisonment and indecent exposure.
Individuals charged with gross misdemeanors are entitled to a jury trial. If you are found guilty of a gross misdemeanor, you can get your record sealed five years after your release or after the lifting of a suspended sentence. That five-year period, however, is a new provision and applies only to someone sentenced on or after October 1, 2013. For everyone else, the original seven-year period for sealing records applies.
While misdemeanors are lesser charges than felonies, these offenses remain on your record and could possibly hamper your ability to find work in your chosen profession. When facing a misdemeanor charge, you need skilled defense representation from a Reno criminal defense attorney.