When A Defendant Forfeits The Right To Confront Witnesses

Below is an excellent article detailing the events that took place as the Nevada Supreme Court set an important precedent for domestic violence prosecutors. This article was written by Chad Pace, who was the lead domestic violence prosecutor in Lyon County and is now a deputy district attorney in Douglas County. He is a member of the State Bar of Nevada's Continuing Legal Education Committee and is admitted to practice in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Nevada. He'd rather be skiing.                             

When A Defendant Forfeits The Right To Confront Witnesses

The U.S. Supreme Court first considered the forfeiture doctrine in the 1878 case,   Reynolds v. United States.           1In   Reynolds, an accused polygamist concealed one of his wives to preclude subpoena service. The court held that Reynolds forfeited his Confrontation Clause rights, and the court admitted the wife's prior testimony into evidence.           2The court stated, "The Constitution gives the accused the right to a trial at which he should be confronted with the witnesses against him; but if a witness is absent by his own wrongful procurement, he cannot complain if competent evidence is admitted to supply the place of that which he has kept away."                                       

More than 140 years later, the Nevada Supreme Court took its first look at the forfeiture doctrine.   State v. Anderson recognized, "a defendant may forfeit the right to confrontation. In particular, 'one who obtains the absence of a witness by wrongdoing forfeits the constitutional right to confrontation.'"       3                                   

"No Face, No Case." Chronic Witness Tampering is Widespread in Domestic Violence Prosecution

Prosecutors and advocates have known for many years that witness tampering is a significant problem in domestic violence cases, and that victims recant or refuse to appear at trial because of a perpetrator's threats of retaliation. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized that domestic violence is a crime "notoriously susceptible to intimidation or coercion of the victim to ensure she does not testify at trial."           4As many as 80 percent of domestic violence victims recant initial accounts of abuse and do not participate in prosecution after a batterer's interjection and influence.           5                             

After batterers dissuade their victims' appearance, prosecutors must often proceed to trial without the victim's participation.   Nevada Revised Statue 200.485(9) requires prosecutors move forward with a case even without victim testimony unless the prosecutor knows the case cannot be proven or that the arrest was not supported by probable cause. Victims cannot "drop the charge" in Nevada. Thus, many cases move forward without victim participation. Photos, nontestimonial statements and medical records are often powerful evidence regardless of the victim's ability to participate in the case. Nonetheless, juries want to hear from the victim.           7                             

The victim's problematic absence is compounded by the Confrontation Clause. Face-to-face confrontation is the cornerstone of Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause jurisprudence.       8Without the victim's presence, her prior statements to law enforcement and investigators are most often barred from evidence by the Confrontation Clause. Thus, the jailhouse slang saying "no face, no case" holds true for the majority of cases. Defendants have every incentive to preclude their victim's testimony at trial.              

Beyond Violence: The Soft-Touch Approach

Perhaps surprisingly, batterers rarely use direct threats to influence and dissuade victims. Batterers tamper with victims often via phone calls, letters and text    [*19] messages from jail.       9In a recent study of 25 heterosexual couples, in which the male perpetrator was detained for felony domestic violence, only one perpetrator directly threatened the victim. Instead, batterers regularly use sophisticated, psychological strategies to persuade their victim not to testify.       10For example, batterers instruct victims on what should be said in court or done before prosecution. Batterer's instruction is a "minimization" technique used to downplay the abuse, evoke sympathy and encourage the victim's recantation. The soft touch is used more often and is more effective than a direct threat. A perpetrator's repetitious minimization influences the victims into re-defining the abuse narrative, recanting prior statements and refusing to appear at trial.         

Attempted Murder and Witness Tampering in Anderson

The Nevada Supreme Court considered the forfeiture doctrine in   State v. Anderson. The state represented that the defendant procured a witness's absence via a call from a jail telephone by telling her to disappear and to leave her phone to avoid authorities tracking her. The state then moved to introduce the witness's out-of-court statements to the investigator. The defendant, proceeding pro per, objected. The district court concluded that the jail call was sufficient evidence to prove the defendant intended to procure the witness's absence, and the defendant forfeited his Confrontation Clause rights. The Nevada Supreme Court heard the case on appeal.              

Nevada Supreme Court Adopted the Modern, Majority View of Burden of Proof in Forfeiture Doctrine                             

To prove forfeiture, the state must show that the defendant intended to prevent a witness from testifying. Federal and state courts split concerning the applicable burden of proof, which the state must satisfy to show the defendant's intent. Specifically, the courts have split on whether the appropriate standard of proof is the higher burden of clear and convincing evidence or the lower burden of a preponderance of evidence. Last year, in   Anderson, the Nevada Supreme Court specifically addressed this issue as a matter of first impression. Writing for the majority, Justice Lidia Stiglich unequivocally sets forth, "the preponderance standard provides the appropriate burden of proof for purposes of the forfeiture-by-wrongdoing exception to the Confrontation Clause."           12The forfeiture doctrine is born of equity because "no one shall be permitted to take advantage of his own wrong."          

 Importantly, Justice Stiglich recognized that violence and threats are a rare form of witness tampering. Her opinion does not reference any such specific conduct. Instead, the court maintains fidelity to the law and discusses only the accused's "wrongdoings."              

A New Opportunity for Domestic Violence Prosecutors                             

Although   Anderson was not a domestic violence case, the decision is important precedent for domestic violence prosecution. Batterers will no longer benefit from their threats, instructions and soft-touch persuasion. The Nevada Supreme Court has signaled to prosecutors that the forfeiture doctrine is a viable tool. Batterers who not only threaten, but also use soft-touch dissuasion to preclude victim testimony, can foresee courts admitting victim statements into evidence notwithstanding the victim's absence at trial. "No face, no case" is not a maxim batterers can rely upon after forfeiting Confrontation Clause rights.  

Sources:

Author: Chad Pace

Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145, 159, 25 L.Ed. 244 (1879)).

Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 68, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 158 L.Ed.2d 177 (2004).

Davis v. Washington, 547 U.S. 813, 833, 126 S.Ct. 2266, 165 L.Ed.2d 224 (2006)

Davis v. Washington, 126 S.Ct. 2266, 165 L Ed.2d 224, 2006)

Chavez v. State, 125 Nev. 328, 337, 213 P.3d 476, 483 (2009)     

447 P.3d 1072, 1076 (2019)

Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145, 158-59, 25 L.Ed. 244 (1879))

Can You Be Charged with Second-Degree Murder for a DUI Resulting in Death

The Nevada Supreme Court has consistently held that Nevada's DUI statute provides the exclusive punishment for non-intentional deaths resulting from intoxicated driving.  See, Sheriff, Douglas County v. La Motte, 100 Nev. 270, 680 P.2d 333, 334 1984, which declined to extend liability for second degree murder to deaths resulting from drunk driving because "the Nevada Legislature has set the punishment for killing or seriously injuring another while driving a vehicle under the influence of intoxicants" and judicial "[e]xpansion of the range of punishments for those drunk drivers who kill fellow motorists would constitute an impermissible judicial excursion into the legislature's domain"); Johnston, 101 Nev. at 95, 692 P.2d at 1308 ("it is improper to charge second degree murder for a death resulting from drunk driving")

However, the Nevada Supreme Court has never directly addressed whether Nevada's reckless driving statute similarly preempts a second-degree murder charge. This issue came to a head in the case of Leavell v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court of Nev., 2020 Nev. Unpub. LEXIS 851, 471 P.3d 749, 2020 WL 5543073 Mr. Leavell contended that the two statutes collectively preempt a charge of second-degree murder based on allegations of reckless driving combined with DUI.

The Clark County District Attorney’s Office (State) wholly disagreed with Mr. Leavell’s contention of the reckless driving statute pre-emption of a second-degree murder charge.  In fact, there were four other active second-degree DUI/reckless driving cases pending during Mr. Leavell’s challenge:

The State charged murder in Aylin Alderette, 111 miles per hour, running through stop lights, weaving around traffic, and killed an eight-year-old in a school zone. The State charged murder.  

In Mr. Buckingham, the case from Boulder City, 137 miles per hour of his own admission, killed a man on a Wednesday morning in the middle of the street on a 45 mile per hour zone.

The State charged murder on Jonathan Mora, 117 miles per hour, 11 p.m. near a park in the dark, killed the kid inside his car.

The State charged murder on Jorge Cardenas, a man who was fleeing the scene of another collision while he also happened to be intoxicated and killed a man at 80 miles per hour in a bike zone.

Nevada's General Murder Statute

Nevada's general murder statute was enacted in 1911. See NRS 200.010, added by C&P (1911), § 119. The statute defines murder as "the unlawful killing of a human being . . . [w]ith malice aforethought, either express or implied." NRS 200.010. "Express malice" is defined as "that deliberate intention unlawfully to take away the life of a fellow creature, which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof." NRS 200.02(1). Express malice requires a specific "intent to kill". Keys v. State , 104 Nev. 736, 740 766 P.2d 270, 272 (1988). Where a specific "intent to kill" is present, a defendant may properly be charged with first-degree murder. See NRS 200.030(l)(a) ("willful, deliberate and premeditated killing" is murder in the first degree). 

By contrast, "implied malice" is said to exist "when no considerable provocation appears, or when all the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart." NRS 200.020(2). Implied malice "does not necessarily import ill will toward a victim, but signifies general malignant recklessness of others' lives and safety or disregard of social duty." Keys, 104 Nev. at 740, 766 P.2d at 271. Implied malice, or that "malignant disregard and recklessness concerning the life and safety of another" is the mens rea required to sustain a charge of second-degree murder. Id. Second-degree murder is category A felony that carries two possible sentences: 10-years-to-life, or 10-25 years. NRS 200.030(5). By statute, a person who is convicted of second-degree murder "shall" be sentenced to one of these two terms. NRS 200.030(5).

Pursuant to these general statutes, Mr. Leavell was charged with second-degree murder for causing the death of Mr. Villicana, by:

Entering [his] 2014 Chevrolet Camaro and driving away from his residence while violating various traffic laws, including but not limited to accelerating to speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour over the 25 miles per hour posted speed limit in a residential neighborhood and/or failing to stop at a stop sign, all of which was exacerbated by the Defendant's impairment from his use of Marijuana.

Nevada's Specific DUI/Reckless Driving Statutes

In 1969, Nevada's legislature enacted comprehensive "Rules of the Road". See Compiled Legislative History for A.B. 271.  The purpose of these rules was to "(establish traffic laws which are uniform throughout the State of Nevada, whether or not incorporated into local ordinances" and to "(minimize the differences between the traffic laws of the State of Nevada and those of other states."  See  NRS 484A.005 (this purpose applies to NRS 484A-484E, inclusive).

As originally enacted, the Rules of the Road did not cover deaths resulting from DUI or reckless driving.  However, in 1973, Nevada's Legislature amended the Rules of the Road to criminalize DUI causing death. See NRS 484C.430, added by Laws 1973, p. 447; see also Compiled Legislative History for A.B. 218.  And in 1981, Nevada's Legislature amended the Rules of the Road to criminalize reckless driving causing death. See NRS 484B.653, as amended by Laws 1981, p. 1924.

https://www.leu.state.nv.us/Division/Research/Librarv/LeizHistorv/LHs/1973ZAB218.1973.pdf (last visited 10/21/19).

The crime of DUI causing death is set forth in NRS 484C.430(1). That statute provides for a maximum penalty of "not more than 20 years" in prison as follows:

Unless a greater penalty is provided pursuant to NRS 484C.440, a person who:. . .

(d) [i]s under the influence of a controlled substance . . .

[or]

(f) [h]as a prohibited substance in his or her blood or urine, as applicable, in an amount that is equal or greater than the amount set forth in subsection 3 or 4 of NRS 484C.110, and does any act or neglects any duty imposed by law while driving or in actual physical control of any vehicle on or off the highways of this State, if the act or neglect of duty proximately causes the death of, or substantial bodily harm to, another person, is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 20 years . . .

NRS 484C.430(1) 

The crime of reckless driving is set forth in NRS 484B.653(1). That statute makes it "unlawful for a person" to "[d]rive a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property on a highway or premises to which the public has access." NRS 484B.653(l)(a). The statute also criminalizes "unauthorized speed contest[s]" and "trick driving display[s]." NRS 484B.653(l)(b)-(e)

However, when death results from any of these forms of reckless driving, the maximum penalty is "not more than 6 years" in prison:

Unless a greater penalty is provided pursuant to subsection 4 of NRS 484B.550, a person who does any act or neglects any duty imposed by law while driving or in actual physical control of any vehicle on a highway or premises to which the public has access in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property, if the act or neglect of duty proximately causes the death of or substantial bodily harm to another person, is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years and by a fine of not less than $ 2,000 but not more than $ 5,000.  NRS 484B.653(9)

The Nevada Supreme Court Ruling

The Court ruled that although malice may be inferred from the facts of this case, which would support a charge of second-degree murder, the Legislature has preempted such a charge for cases of non-intentional vehicular homicide. See NRS 484B.657. As we likewise held in Sheriff v. LaMotte, 100 Nev. 270, 272-73, 680 P.2d 333, 334 (1984), and confirmed in Johnston v. State, 101 Nev. 94, 95, 692 P.2d 1307, 1308 (1985), the State may not charge a defendant with second-degree murder for a death resulting from driving under the influence. The district court nonetheless allowed the State to do so here, so it erred in interpreting and applying those holdings, which was a manifest abuse of discretionState v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court (Armstrong), 127 Nev. 927, 932, 267 P.3d 777, 780 (2011).

Since there is no intent involved in killing someone while driving while impaired, the District Attorney could not seek second-degree murder charges against drunk drivers who cause another person’s death in a car accident.  The State can still pursue charges pursuant to NRS 484C.430 which has a penalty between 2 to twenty years in prison and between a $2,000 and $5,000 fine.  

Contact A Las Vegas DUI Attorney Today

If you were charged with a DUI related offense you need skilled legal representation.  Our team at the Spartacus Law Firm is experienced in handling all aspects of a DUI case and will aggressively protect your rights to the fullest extent under law.  Contact us today at 702-660-1234 for a free consultation.

How Prosecutorial Discretion Affects Criminal Cases

The United States Supreme Court has indicated that the entire purpose and intent of a prosecutor should be to ensure that justice is done in each case. The truth is that prosecutorial discretion affects criminal cases and is exceptionally critical to every criminal case. Most defendants charged with a crime are aware of how much leeway a prosecutor has in your criminal case. Consider speaking with an experienced Spartacus Law Firm attorney at (702) 660-1234 to discover answers to your questions, as well as learn all of your legal options and rights. We may be able to represent you and meet with the prosecutor on your behalf in order to attempt to obtain justice under the law.

How Prosecuting Attorneys Proceed

Prosecutors in the state of Nevada are required under the law to uphold high standards and ensure justice in every case. This standard applies to every type of prosecutor in Nevada including: 

Prosecutors are responsible for investigating crimes and determining if charges should be pressed against an individual or individuals. Prosecutors also decide what offenses to file, how much of a sentence to seek, the kind of plea deal to offer, and which cases should be dropped. They determine whether they should defend convictions in appeals court when accused criminals attempt to have their sentences reduced. Their decisions can affect the outcome of legal matters greatly, especially since prosecutors may not always act ethically or honestly when it comes to exercising their discretion. 

How Prosecutorial Discretion Affects Criminal Cases 

A prosecutor has an ethical responsibility to "seek justice," not merely convictions. However, in some cases, prosecutors may abuse their power and discretion in order to obtain a conviction, which can greatly affect the outcome of a case. 

Resources of the State of Nevada

Prosecutors have the responsibility of deciding how wise it is to spend resources on each individual case. If they believe that there is not enough evidence available for them to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then it may be best for them to drop the charges, which could lead to free suspects accused of crimes who would otherwise be convicted if necessary resources had been used on their cases. 

Choosing Criminal Charges

Since prosecutors are given discretion by law, they can choose which charges to file against an individual and what type of sentence to request upon conviction. How heavy or light the punishment will require some balance between protecting society and promoting the rehabilitation of offenders. As experts on the criminal justice system, prosecutors use their discretion based on what they know about crimes that have already occurred as well as those that may happen if certain policies are put into place.

Beyond Legal: Ethical Considerations

In the state of Nevada, when there is valid evidence along with probable cause, prosecutorial responsibilities call for prosecutors to bring charges against offenders. When prosecutors recognize they simply do not have enough substantial evidence or proof to likely win in court, it is typically in the state's best interests not to file charges rather than incur the associated expenses of pursuing a legal case in which they will likely not be successful. Making the discretionary decision regarding the weight and significance of evidence or proof in a case is frequently a subjective call for the prosecution. As a result, it is important to consider visiting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Spartacus Law Firm who can speak with the prosecutor on your behalf.

Understanding Plea Deals

According to the United States Department of Justice, plea deals (also known as plea bargains) are one way that prosecutorial discretion affects criminal cases. A defendant may negotiate a plea bargain in which they admit to their charges and, as part of the agreement, accept a punitive punishment such as jail time or fines.  Many cases result in plea bargaining instead of jury trials, especially when the evidence against a defendant is overwhelming.

Many defendants are likely to accept plea agreements for several reasons. For example, some cases result in plea bargaining because of an overload of criminal activity within the court system or because prosecutors want to save time and money.  Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help ensure that you understand all of your legal options and help you make a decision regarding whether or not it is in your best interest to take a plea deal in your specific case. 

Types of Plea Bargains

One type of plea bargain, and one of the best negotiated resolutions to a criminal case in the State of Nevada is known as a “submittal.”  A submittal is considered a deferred adjudication, but the significance lies in the fact that the defendant never enters into a plea to the charge.  The criminal case is submitted back to the court, usually for the defendant to complete a set of requirements, such as the payment of a fine or restitution, classes related to the underlying charge, such as a theft or impulse control class, and a stay out of trouble provision, which typically is six months.  Upon completion of these requirements the case is dismissed, and eligible to be sealed immediately.  The significance of the submittal resolution lies in the fact that the defendant does not enter into a plea such as guilty or no contest, which is the case in a stay of adjudication.

A stay of adjudication involves the defendant entering into a verbal plea of no contest or a guilty plea, however, the court does not enter a judgment of conviction.  The adjudication of guilt is stayed until a defendant completes a series of requirements.  For example, in a domestic violence stay of adjudication plea, it is typical to have to undergo a twenty-six or fifty-two week set of domestic violence classes, pay a fine, perform community service and upon the successful completion of these requirements the case is dismissed, or the charge is amended from a more serious charge to a charge such as simple battery or disturbing the peace.  If the requirements are not met the Court can adjudicate the defendant guilty and the conviction will be entered against the defendant.  Upon the successful completion of a withhold of adjudication plea a defendant can have their filed sealed pursuant to statute.  

Both stays of adjudication and submittals are viable resolutions to serious criminal charges.  If you have been arrested you need an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorney that understands the plea bargain procedure and can help you obtain the best possible resolution to a criminal charge.

Discretion to Charge a Lesser Crime

Prosecutors may also make the determination to charge a person of a but distinct offense based on the evidence. The same scenario and evidence might be interpreted as assault or malicious wounding, for example. As a result of how prosecutorial discretion affects criminal cases, it is ultimately a person deciding whether or not to pursue more serious charges, and spent the state's time and financial resources, or simply pursue a lesser charge.  

Prosecutorial Discretion in the State of Nevada 

In the state of Nevada, prosecuting attorneys have the authority to pursue criminal prosecution against those who are charged with crimes in such a manner pursuant to the best good and interest of the state. The prosecution has a tremendous amount of leeway in determining which crimes to charge a suspect with and the severity of those charges. It costs a substantial amount of money and resources to prosecute someone, and it costs even more if a defendant spends a substantial time in jail. 

Simply putting every accused criminal in jail is unwise for the government. Prosecutors may examine the facts of a specific case and ultimately make the determination that some form of rehabilitation or community service would be a more appropriate response. This is particularly significant in cases with no prior criminal record and no violent crime was intended.

Consider Visiting with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney 

While you have a legal right to represent yourself in any matter, having an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney by your side can help you understand all of your legal options and help you make the difficult decisions in your case. In many cases, criminal defense attorneys will visit with the prosecutor to attempt to reduce the charge or even dismiss a criminal case completely. Consider visiting with the experienced and compassionate criminal defense attorneys at Spartacus Law Firm at (702) 660-1234 today to learn more.

Ridesharing Accidents In Nevada

The state of Nevada carefully regulates ridesharing (also known as ride-hailing) companies such as Uber and Lyft under Chapter 706A of the Nevada Revised Statutes. When ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft first started, these ridesharing companies were met with both excitement and trepidation. People were excited that ridesharing companies would offer rides at the touch of a button to complete strangers, but they were also uneasy about ridesharing services for fear of being in an accident with an unknown driver. 

Unfortunately, ridesharing accidents in Nevada and across the country seem to be on the rise. While rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft try to keep riders safe by conducting multiple background checks, and ensuring the driving safety record of their drivers, many victims have been involved in tragic ridesharing accidents. If you suffered any injuries or losses as a result of a ridesharing accident in Nevada, consider visiting with an experienced personal injury attorney at Spartacus Law Firm at (702) 660-1234 to learn more about your legal rights. 

Popularity of Ridesharing in the United States 

As of 2019, nearly 7 billion ridesharing rides have been taken in the United States.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a study in 2019 that shows ridesharing drivers have a lower crash rate than taxi cabs and other commercial vehicles. While ridesharing can be a safe form of transportation, ridesharing accidents do happen. As a result of more ridesharing drivers and companies on the roads, rideshare drivers are adding to the already congested traffic areas making rideshare accidents more and more common on the roadways. If you have been involved in a ridesharing accident, consider talking with a Las Vegas car accident lawyer at Spartacus Law Firm to have your questions answered regarding all of your legal options. 

Uber and Lyft Attempt to Prevent Ridesharing Accidents

In an effort to keep rideshare drivers and passengers safe, ridesharing companies have been using a variety of technologies. Uber has a function where the ridesharing driver can rate their rideshare passenger, which could deter some rideshare passengers from getting into a rideshare vehicle if they have a poor rating. Additionally, Uber and Lyft have extensive background checks to ensure that they have only safe drivers operating vehicles for their companies.

Ridesharing Drivers Are Insured 

An accident is an accident no matter how it happens. A rideshare driver will still be responsible for any damages incurred by their vehicle in an accident, which are often covered under rideshare insurance policies. Ridesharing services also have insurance policies that cover accidents involving ridesharing drivers while they are on the clock transporting rideshare passengers. Nevada requires that all ridesharing drivers carry liability insurance under NRS 706A. 

This type of insurance protects both the Uber ridesharing passenger and the Lyft ridesharing driver in case of an accident during a rideshare ride. Although there are some differences between Uber vs Lyft insurance coverage, generally speaking, rideshares are always insured against accidents that might happen while rideshare drivers transport users using the service. 

Therefore, if you are in an accident involving the negligence of a ridesharing driver (either as a passenger or in another vehicle involved in the accident), you will have the legal right to pursue compensation for your injuries and losses. 

Steps To Take After a Ridesharing Accident 

If you were involved in a ridesharing accident, report it immediately to the rideshare company. Always remember that rideshare drivers are considered independent contractors and if your accident happened with a rideshare vehicle during a period of time in which the driver was not working, rideshare companies do not provide rideshare insurance coverage for incidents that happen between ridesharing trips. 

Contact the Police 

As soon as possible after the accident, make sure to contact the police in order to receive an official statement. Accidents with ridesharing vehicles should be treated the same as other accidents. 

Gather Evidence 

Attempt to gather information about the other party’s insurance carrier and give them a copy of your recorded statement. You should also make notes on what happened with dates, times, and descriptions of what occurred at the scene of the accident. 

Seek Medical Attention  

Even if you do not think that your injuries are severe, make sure to visit a doctor or the emergency room to ensure they are properly treated. Seeking medical attention is important for your own health, however, it also provides evidence that your injuries were a direct result of the accident. These medical documents can provide evidence that you deserve compensation as a result of the negligence or carelessness of the ridesharing driver. 

Contact Your Insurance Company  

If you were in a rideshare accident, contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Your ridesharing company may provide you with a ridesharing injury claim form for you to fill out and send in. If the rideshare company does not provide a ridesharing injury claim form, then you may need to file a claim with your own personal car insurance policy. Insurance companies often use unscrupulous and manipulative tactics that are not in your best interest. For this reason, it is important that you consider visiting with an experienced ridesharing accident attorney to help you understand all of your legal rights and ensure they remain protected. 

Statute of Limitations in Ridesharing Accidents 

According to Nevada Statute §11.190-(4)(c), As a victim of a ridesharing accident, you only have two years from the date of your accident in Nevada to file a claim in a court of law and receive compensation.  Unfortunately, rideshare companies have legal counsel that are fully aware of this and often use manipulative tactics to delay providing victims with the compensation they deserve in the hopes that they will miss the deadline to file their claim in court.    

Contact an Experienced Rideshare Accident Attorney 

As ridesharing continues to grow in popularity across the country, so does the number of rideshare accidents. This leaves rideshare passengers who have been injured in a rideshare accident, or drivers of other vehicles involved in accidents with ridesharing vehicles with a variety of legal arguments to pursue financial compensation for their injuries. 

If you have been involved in a ridesharing accident or any other type of personal injury accident, consider consulting with a rideshare accident lawyer to help protect your interests and fight for the compensation you deserve under the law. Contact our experienced legal team at Spartacus Law Firm today at (702) 660-1234 for a free consultation today.

Posting On Social Media After Your Car Accident

A car accident can be a very stressful experience. Questions of liability, catastrophic injuries, the inability to return to work, insurance company negotiations, and the inability to return to work can feel overwhelming. The time it takes to resolve a car accident claim and receive compensation for your injuries and losses can often take several months. During this time, you may feel like updating people on social media about the accident and your physical suffering. However, posting on social media after a car accident can cause significant legal challenges when it comes to establishing liability for your injuries or losses. Contact our experienced Las Vegas car accident attorney at Spartacus Law Firm at (702) 660-1234 to learn how to protect your legal right to compensation under the law after a car accident, and what you should consider avoiding posting on your social media accounts. 

Social Media and Car Accidents

When you are injured in a car accident, it is perfectly natural to want to tell everyone about your experience. Posting updates on social media about the incident can lead to confusion when it comes time for establishing liability and seeking compensation after your car accident. Posting too much information on various forms of social media could negatively impact your ability to establish liability or receive compensation later down the road. Moreover, posting negative comments on social media sites may jeopardize any settlement agreement already reached with the other party's insurance company. 

Everything Posted on Social Media Will Be Used Against You

Insurance companies may access your social media accounts if you were in a vehicle accident, and are attempting to receive compensation for your injuries and losses. Defense attorneys also have the right to examine public postings for relevant evidence. In fact, LexisNexis research shows that 80% of all law enforcement professionals use social media within their investigation in order to make determinations regarding key aspects of a case. Additionally, courts have upheld the use of Facebook posts within cases, arguing that they do not violate 4th Amendment rights regarding unreasonable searches. (U.S. v. Meregildo, 883 F.Supp.2d 523 (S.D.N.Y. 2012)

These posts might include photographs, discussions, and status updates that can be used to undermine your personal injury claim. The greatest way to prevent your insposting on social media after a car accident urance company from using your social media posts against you is to avoid posting anything at all. While it is not always easy to stay away from social media, it remains the best method to ensure that you do not jeopardize your personal injury case.

How Social Media Posts Can Be Used Against You 

There are several ways that social media posts can be used against a victim of a car accident. 

Misinterpretation of Social Media Comments 

You may write a very basic social media post about having been involved in a vehicle accident. You might, for example, write: "Just got in a car accident. It was really inconvenient. Why does this always happen to me?”

This may appear to be a benign statement to an outside observer. However, for aggressive insurance attorneys and claim adjusters, that message can be twisted into something quite different. To begin with, to describe something as “inconvenient” implies or could potentially be taken to imply that it is not a serious problem and that it is a simple inconvenience to you. It also may convey the notion that you were not severely harmed or injured as a result of the accident. 

Furthermore, an attorney or claims adjuster might interpret the phrase "why does this always happen to me?" as if you're a negligent driver who has had numerous vehicle accidents before. The preferable choice is to avoid venting your frustrations on social media and instead discuss it with a friend or family member.

Social Media Posts Interpreted as Admissions of Fault 

People have a tendency to say many inappropriate or even untrue things in stressful moments after a collision. Additionally, many victims have an instinct to apologize, even when the car accident was not their fault. Unfortunately, these comments can work against victims in court, especially if a victim posts such statements on social media. In these cases, a victim's social media preserves these comments for the defense to examine and utilize against victims to prove liability or an admission of fault for the car accident. 

Ultimately, these types of social media posts can incriminate victims later on when they attempt to file a personal injury claim against another driver involved in a car accident with them. 

Social Media Posts Not Directly Related to the Car Accident Can Also Harm Your Claim 

Even if you are not posting about your car accident, your social media posts could potentially harm your claim.  For example, if you post that you are out skiing, mountain biking, or trail running, an assumption can be made that you were not actually injured in the car accident, and this could hurt your claim. Additionally, posting about drinking and driving, getting speeding tickets, and anything else unbecoming on social media could be detrimental to an injury claim if another party is able to use these posts against you.

What To Do If You Already Posted on Social Media

If you already posted car accident updates or photographs regarding your physical status in any way on social media, you may still have the ability to obtain compensation for your losses and injuries. It is important to never delete anything you post on your social media accounts following an accident, as it can be considered obstruction of justice, and an attempt to hide evidence related to your claim. 

If you fear your social media posts may work against you, consider contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer who can explain how they may have the ability to stop others from using these social media images and content as leverage against your personal injury claim. 

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney 

If you suffered any injuries or losses as a result of car accident, you could be entitled to significant compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the legal landscape that follows a serious car accident. The advice you receive from an experienced attorney can include the suggestion of not posting anything on social media until your car accident settlement claim is completely resolved. 

Posting certain types of content to your social media pages following an automotive collision may end up hurting you in the long run if it is used as evidence against you during settlement negotiations or during the trial.

Field Sobriety Tests In Nevada

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a federal agency that has established field sobriety tests as a means of standardizing police officer methods for determining if someone is driving under the influence. These tests are not the only factors considered by police when deciding whether to stop you for suspicion of driving under the influence. If you were stopped by the police for suspicion of driving under the influence and received a field sobriety test in Nevada and failed, consider visiting with the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Spartacus Law Firm at (702) 660-1234 to learn more about your legal rights. 

Types of Field Sobriety Tests in Nevada

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration developed the standardized field sobriety tests that are used throughout the county, and in the state of Nevada. The three tests that comprise the standard field sobriety test (SFST) battery include: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Walk and Turn, and the One Leg Stand. 

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is when a person has eyes that involuntary jerk when the eye moves to the side. When a person is under the influence of alcohol, this is enhanced and easy to see. Additionally, a person impaired by alcohol will have challenges following any kind of movement of a specific object across their line of sight.  

Walk and Turn (WAT)

Walk and Turn make a person walk 8 steps with their heel to their toe, then proceed to turn on one foot and then walking in the other direction. This task is scored on the number of clues observed during two separate phases: (1) instruction and (2) walking. One point is deducted for each clue missed or each step improperly taken. 

One Leg Stand (OLS)

One Leg Stand requires the suspect to stand with one foot 6 inches from the ground and count out loud by thousands until the police officer tells them to put the foot down. The person must keep their foot raised for 30 seconds, which is timed by the police officer. One point is deducted for putting their foot down, using their arms to balance, hopping or putting their foot down twice; if they do not maintain balance while counting or make any mistakes in counting they receive a zero. 

Are You Required to Submit to a Field Sobriety Test in Nevada? 

Even if a police officer requests that a person take a field sobriety test, few people are aware that field sobriety tests are not a legal requirement in the state of Nevada. However, during a traffic stop in Las Vegas, police officers are unlikely to inform you of this. It is important to note that refusing to take a field sobriety test might be considered sufficient cause to conduct further testing, such as a breath test or blood test.

Do Field Sobriety Tests in Nevada Work?

Many people just believe that since the police do these tests, they must be effective. The sad reality is that they are frequently incorrect. The NHTSA Appendix articulates how field sobriety tests should be conducted. These instructions were not followed by police officers in many cases, and errors can stem from the use of outdated instructions for these tests. The instructions indicate that clues must be evaluated in relation to each other; however, this is often not done by law enforcement. Instead, drivers are arrested based on one or two "clues" without consideration of whether any other factor might have contributed to the person's performance on the field sobriety test.

Another problem with field sobriety tests is that they are designed for sober people. If you feel nauseous, fatigued or sick after drinking just one alcoholic beverage an hour ago, it will affect your performance during a field sobriety test. In fact, there are a variety of scenarios regarding how these field sobriety tests in Nevada might be incorrectly evaluated or administered, resulting in wrong results. If you were subjected to a field sobriety test and received a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge in Nevada, consider visiting with an experienced DUI attorney at Spartacus Law Firm to help you understand all of your legal options. 

Defenses Against a Failed Field Sobriety Test 

There is much debate regarding whether or not field sobriety tests are scientifically valid. In many tests, the accuracy rate appears to be very low, according to the NHTSA Student Manual

It might be possible to raise doubt about the accuracy of your field sobriety test results by asking some of the following questions with an experienced DUI lawyer at Spartacus Law Firm. 

Did the officer properly administer the field sobriety tests? 

Police officers are required to follow standardized procedures during these tests, so if they deviated from those protocols, there may be a chance that any evidence gathered as a result of the faulty procedure will not be allowed into court. For example, it is common practice for an officer administering these tests to ask you not just one question at a time but several. However, if he or she fails to inform you that more one question will be asked before you are required to give an answer, evidence gathered as a result of that question may be excluded from the trial.

Did the officer administer all three field sobriety tests? 

It is important for you to establish whether you were given all three field sobriety tests: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk-and-turn test and the one-leg stand test. If you failed only one type of these three tests but passed the rest, this could potentially work in your favor.

Did the officer fail to follow standard procedures? 

On rare occasions, police officers fail to follow standard procedures during these field sobriety tests without giving their reasons. For example, they might not use a stopwatch while administering the test or fail to tell you that you are supposed to keep your arms down at your sides.

Does one of these field sobriety tests seem impossibly difficult to you even if you are sober? 

Many people find either one-leg stand test or the walk-and-turn test extremely difficult. People who have problems with their sense of balance often fall during the one-leg stand test. People who have problems with their sense of space often fail to take the correct number of steps in the walk and turn test.

Did you take uncontrolled, multiple steps? 

Police officers watch for this mistake very carefully because it is a sign of intoxication. If you were wearing slip-on shoes or sandals and took multiple steps without removing your shoes first, your performance will be judged as poor and can result in arrest and conviction. 

Were there any distractions while performing these field sobriety tests? 

If there were any significant distractions such as bright lights or loud noise around you then that factor could defeat all other evidence presented by the police officer that shows intoxication; since they failed to account for such factors, which may have influenced their decision regarding your field sobriety test. 

Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney Today 

If you received a DUI following a failed field sobriety test, you may have the ability to fight your charge successfully. Contact an experienced criminal DUI defense attorneys in Nevada at Spartacus Law Firm at (702) 660-1234 to get answers to your questions and ensure your legal rights remain protected.

What Triggers Disciplinary Action Against Nurses In Nevada?

Nurses have a responsibility to practice in a certain way in order to maintain their license. However, there are times when they may not meet the expectations of the law and their nursing license could be jeopardized. When this occurs, discipline can be taken against them by their employer or the Nevada State Board of Nursing. The Nevada State Board of Nursing consists of a Board that is comprised of appointees made by the Governor of Nevada. While nurses are expected to maintain a high standard of professionalism, many wonder what triggers disciplinary action against nurses in Nevada? If you are a nurse and received a notice that you are under investigation, consider visiting with the experienced Nursing License Defense Attorney at Spartacus Law Firm at (702) 660-1234 to ensure your legal rights remain protected. 

Areas of Interest for Nursing Disciplinary Actions in Nevada 

There are several events that may trigger a disciplinary action against a nurse in the state of Nevada. 

Negligence/Mismanagement

Negligence or mismanagement is when a nurse fails to render adequate care due to neglect, incompetence, or inattention.  This can occur when a nurse fails to follow the standards of care for nursing. 

Patient Rights Violations

Nurses are responsible to protect patient rights. This typically involves providing patients with adequate privacy, protection from mistreatment, and overall patient safety. Failure to do so could result in an investigation by the Nevada Board of Nursing, or a nurse’s employer. 

Impairment/Physical or Mental Condition

If a nurse is impaired in some way, they may have trouble performing their job at the desired level of quality. Alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness are all impairing conditions that could lead to disciplinary action against nurses. 

Misconduct Involving Prescription Drugs/Narcotics Theft

While nurses are expected handle prescription drugs appropriately, there are several cases where they are involved in wrongfully obtaining drugs for personal use or for others that they know. 

Possession of Drugs/Weapons/Illegal Substances 

Nurses may be in violation of hospital policy and credentialing standards if they are found to be in possession of drugs, weapons, or other illegal substances. In these cases, there also may be criminal charges brought against the nurse depending on the circumstances. 

Abuse and Neglect of Patients

When a nurse abuses or neglects a patient, the patient's safety may come under risk as well as the reputation of the facility. These types of behavior are seen as an infraction that is not tolerated by most hospitals, units, and facilities as they require nurses to provide high-quality care at all times. In some cases, depending on the circumstances, nursing may face criminal charges in additional to an investigation by the Nevada Board of Nursing. 

Noncompliance With Medical Practice Standards 

When certain medical standards are breached by an act of omission or commission; the act may not be intentional, but it does violate established standards. For example, if a patient reports that they have not received their medication yet there is no record on file with documentation showing otherwise; this could be considered noncompliance. 

Results of Disciplinary Action Against Nurses in Nevada

There are several different types of results that may happen when a nurse receives a disciplinary action in Nevada. It is important to also note that the Nursing Board will make any disciplinary action public. 

Probation 

The most common form of discipline that nurses face is being placed on probation. This can occur with or without limitations being placed upon their ability to work as a nurse. 

Suspension or Revocation of Nursing License

Other forms of discipline include the suspension or revocation of a nursing license.  If this occurs, the nurse may not be able to work as a nurse in the state of Nevada.

Other Forms of Disciplinary Action 

In other cases, a nurse may receive a fine, reprimand, or even a denial of licensing applications for up to five years or more. The Nevada Board of Nursing also will place the nurse’s name on a list of those nurses that have received disciplinary action on their website. 

Reinstatement of Nursing Licenses

When a disciplinary action is completed, the Nevada Board of Nursing will evaluate a nurse's case to determine whether they can reinstate their professional license. If they are reinstated, then the nurse must adhere to certain conditions that have been put in place. These could be related to issues involving substance abuse or mental health. Additionally, there may be other stipulations imposed upon them before they are allowed to work again as a nurse.

Steps to Take if You Discover You Are Under Investigation 

If a nurse is being investigated by a board, they should consider taking the following steps. 

Do Not Panic 

The licensing board in Nevada is legally required to start an inquiry into a nurses' behavior after receiving a complaint, even if it is not true. 

​Do Not Ignore Letters or Timelines

If you receive a notice of investigation from the Nevada Board of Nursing or your employer, you must respond in writing to the letter within a certain timeframe, and you may be asked to supply documents or other materials at the same time. Do not allow this deadline to pass, or you may lose some of your legal rights. 

Do Not Be Argumentative or Adversarial 

You may believe you did nothing wrong, and as a result, feel defensive regarding the allegations made. Remember that the Nevada Board of Nursing and the investigators are simply doing their job and investigating an alleged complaint and/or incident. Behaving in an adversarial or argumentative way will not help resolve the situation any faster and may work against you. 

Consider Obtaining Legal Advice 

Visiting with an attorney knowledgeable about nursing license defense cases from Spartacus Law Firm can ensure that appropriate steps can be taken on their behalf, due to the fact that there are certain things that nurses cannot do when they are under investigation for wrongdoing. 

Contact an Experienced Nursing License Defense Attorney Today

Unfortunately, many nurses experience someone who is frustrated with their care or feels a need to retaliate against them. While there are several circumstances that could trigger a disciplinary action against a nurse in Nevada, visiting with an experienced nursing license defense lawyer at Spartacus Law Firm at (702) 660-1234 can help ensure that you understand all of your legal options. We can help answer all of your questions and ensure your legal rights remain protected.

For a FREE initial consultation, call (702) 660-1234.