Nevada Castle Doctrine

Just like more than half the states in the union, Nevada is what’s known as a “stand your ground” state. This law gives you permission to defend yourself if you feel threatened, and, under the right circumstances, even to use non-lethal or lethal force in defending yourself. Most of the situations in which this law applies involve home invasion, assault and battery, or attempted murder, but it can apply in any violent crime situation.

In 2012, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that citizens of the state have a right to use deadly force in defending their lives without retreating first. This law was based upon an incident in 1871 in which James D. Kennedy shot John Keeland, seemingly in self-defense, but was convicted and sentenced to prison. He appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court and won that appeal based upon the fact that he did not have an obligation to retreat before firing upon Keeland. This forms the basis of the modern-day “stand your ground” law in Nevada.

When May I Use Non-Lethal Force in Defending Myself in Nevada?

You may use non-lethal force to defend yourself in Nevada if you have reason to believe that you or another person faces imminent danger or bodily harm, and if you use no more force than necessary to fight off the attack.

When May I Use Deadly Force to Defend Myself in Nevada?

A homicide is considered to be justifiable in Nevada if it meets these criteria:

  • You faced an urgent and pressing danger.
  • You faced major bodily harm or death.
  • Any reasonable person in your shoes would also have feared for their safety and their life.
  • Your motive was not only revenge.

When May I Stand My Ground Without a Duty to Retreat in Nevada?

Furthermore, under Nevada law, you may stand your ground and kill someone else in self-defense without what is called “duty to retreat” if you meet these criteria:

  • You are not the original aggressor.
  • You are legally entitled to be where you are when you use deadly force.
  • You are not engaged in other criminal activity at the time that you used deadly force.

What Crimes Can I Defend Myself Against in Nevada?

Self-defense is often used as a legal defense for any violent crime occurring in Nevada, as long as you are reasonably trying to protect yourself. Examples of crimes in which you can claim self-defense as a legal defense include (but are not limited to):

  • Battery domestic violence (defending yourself against an attack of domestic violence, and inadvertently causing the aggressor to lose their life)
  • Assault and battery (for example, if you are the victim you are legally allowed to fight back as long as you use force that is proportional and are just using that force to resist bodily harm)
  • Murder (if you can claim justifiable homicide, i.e., that you reasonably believed that you were in immediate threat of substantial bodily harm or death and you therefore killed the aggressor)
  • Home invasion (if someone forces their way into your home without your consent–even if you could escape out another door and avoid conflict, under Nevada law you have the legal right to stand your ground and fight back)

Proving self-defense in any crime can be difficult, as it is what is called an “affirmative defense” in Nevada. This means that you, the defendant, have the initial burden to claim that you acted in self-defense. Once you claim self-defense, the burden shifts to the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not act in lawful self-defense. If you are charged with a crime, you need a competent, capable criminal defense lawyer on your side to help argue your case. Contact our Nevada criminal defense team today.