In Nevada, self-defense is permitted in certain situations that involve crimes posing an immediate threat to an individual. However, it is important to know when it is appropriate to use self-defense and when it may be illegal in Nevada. It is also crucial to know that the level of force used in self-defense should also be proportionate to the aggressor’s threat. Our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers explain Nevada self-defense laws below.
Is Self-Defense Legal in Nevada?
If you need to fight back to defend yourself against danger, the State of Nevada does permit self-defense in the circumstances of:
- Domestic violence – NRS 200.485 defines battery which constitutes domestic violence as the intentional infliction of unlawful physical force on a current spouse, former spouse, domestic partner, co-parent of a minor child, minor children and other familial relations in the household.
- Assault and battery – According to NRS 200.471, assault is unlawfully attempting to use physical force against a person or intentionally placing a person in fear of immediate bodily harm. NRS 200.481 defines battery as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon another person.
- Invasion of the home – NRS 205.067 states that home invasion occurs when a person forcibly enters an inhabited dwelling without permission of the owner, resident or lawful occupant, whether or not a person is present at the time of the entry.
- Attempted murder – In Nevada, attempted murder occurs when someone tries but fails to commit the crime of murder as defined in NRS 200.030.
In addition, the following conditions must be met to constitute self-defense:
- The person reasonably believes the aggressor poses an immediate threat or intends bodily harm.
- That person does not use more than the necessary force to deflect the aggressor’s threat.
If somebody acts reasonably when facing imminent danger and does not overreact with physical force, self-defense is legal in Nevada.
What Are Nevada Self-Defense Laws?
There are several laws that define the legality of self-defense in Nevada. The State of Nevada’s rules and regulations relating to what is considered self-defense include:
- NRS 200.275 – Justifiable infliction or threat of bodily injury.
- NRS 193.230 – Who may make lawful resistance to commission of public offense.
- NRS 193.240 – Resistance by those about to be injured.
- NRS 193.250 – Another person coming to the aid or defense of a person about to be injured.
- NRS 202.320 – Drawing a deadly weapon in a threatening manner (brandishing).
- NRS 202.294 – Aiming a firearm at a human being or discharging a weapon where a person could be harmed.
- NRS 200.120 & NRS 200.160– Justifiable homicide.
- NRS 200.130 – “Bare fear” is insufficient to justify killing.
- NRS 200.200 – Killing in self-defense.
- NRS 41.095 – Using deadly force against an intruder.
Is Nevada a “Stand Your Ground” State?
Yes, Nevada is a “stand your ground” state. This means a person has the legal right to fight back even if there is an opportunity to retreat from the situation. As a “stand your ground” state, Nevada allows victims of violence or the imminent threat of bodily harm to have the option to choose self-defense over running away to avoid the conflict. However, the person must use reasonable force when defending themselves in order for self-defense to be legal.
Can You Kill in Self-Defense in Nevada?
Certain circumstances must be met in order to use deadly force in self-defense in Nevada. A homicide is only justifiable when a person faces an immediate threat of being gravely injured or killed. Killing in self-defense in Nevada is legal when:
- The danger is imminent.
- The immediate threat is death or severe bodily harm.
- Any reasonable person would also fear for their life in the same situation.
- The non-aggressor is not retaliating as an act of revenge.
According to the outcome in Culverson v. State, 106 Nev. 484, 797 P.2d 238 (Nev. 1990), the non-aggressor does not have a duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense as long as that individual did not start the fight, is not trespassing, and is not committing any illegal activity at that time.
What Is the “Castle Doctrine” in Nevada?
The “castle doctrine” in Nevada is also related to killing in self-defense. However, it applies to using deadly force against an intruder that is trying to commit a felony. If a person attempts to enter your occupied home or vehicle, home invasion is a felony, and you have the right to use deadly force against that intruder whether or not their intention was to kill you. For an unoccupied home or car, deadly force is not justifiable under the “castle doctrine.”
Can I Shoot a Fleeing Intruder or Burglar?
In Nevada, a fleeing burglar, attacker, or intruder is no longer considered an immediate threat to your life. The only reason to pursue or use deadly force against a fleeing felon is if they pose an imminent risk to another person’s life, such as an officer or the public. In any other circumstance, you cannot claim self-defense if you shoot a burglar or other felon as they attempt to run away.
How to Prove Self-Defense
Self-defense in Nevada is an “affirmative defense”, meaning that the defendant must make the initial claim that he or she lawfully acted in self-defense. After the defendant makes this claim, the prosecutor now has the burden to prove (beyond a reasonable doubt) that the defendant did not follow Nevada’s laws for self-defense and the force used was unreasonable.
In order to have a strong case, it is important to build evidence that may include eyewitness statements, expert testimony, pictures and video footage of the incident. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side will help build a solid case, which can lead to plea bargains for a reduced charge or even the prosecution dropping the charges completely.
Las Vegas Attorneys for Self-Defense
To defend your right to self-defense in Nevada, it is important to work with a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer. Contact our team today to learn how we can help you uphold justice and prove self-defense in your case.