LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A 24-hour window to make an arrest in a domestic violence case will expand to seven days under legislation proposed in Carson City on Wednesday. That could mean the difference between life and death for some victims, according to testimony.
“It is more dangerous to be a woman living in Nevada than it is to be a police officer in our state,” said Nicole Reilly, ombudsman for domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking at the Nevada Attorney General’s Office. She was quoting a report produced by the University of Nevada, Reno.
She said Nevada ranks No. 7 in the nation for domestic violence — and domestic violence fatalities.
Assembly Bill 51 (AB51) contains a change that advocates say will make a real difference. Offenders have been known to “hide out” for 24 hours after a domestic violence incident because they know police can’t arrest them after that unless they obtain a warrant, which can take time. And even if they don’t go into hiding, they usually leave the scene. If they’re not there when police arrive, the chance they will be arrested goes down.
Under AB51, police would still have probable cause to make an arrest for seven days.
“Expanding the arrest window will improve justice for victims,” Reilly said.
Serena Evans, policy director for the Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, also testified in favor of AB51. “Victim survivors feel a very valid and real terror,” she said, and the 24-hour arrest window leaves victims to fend for themselves.
The bill was presented by John Jones and Jennifer Noble, representatives of the Nevada District Attorneys Association. Jones said AB51 also corrects some mistakes in existing law regarding sentencing for people in domestic violence cases. One important change: it reclassifies felony battery/domestic violence offenders, specifying they are not eligible for probation.
“It’s a lot harder to hide out for seven days than it is for 24 hours,” Noble said.
AB51 originally expanded the arrest window to 14 days, but was amended to set the window at seven days.