Stand Your Ground / Self-Defense Laws in Nevada

Nevada is generally considered a pro self-defense state, and has on its books a version of the increasingly popular stand-your-ground statute that means any defender acting in good faith and lawfully has no duty to retreat from a threat.

Unfortunately, Nevada laws on the matter are a bit more long-winded and difficult to decipher than some other states in the Union, but nonetheless clearly codify both a right to self-defense using lethal force against a threat of death or great bodily injury and the fact that a defender may stand their ground when that time comes in most circumstances.

flag of Nevada

It is worth mentioning that the lethal use of defensive force that results in the death of the attacker falls under the purview of justifiable homicide, something that will necessarily bear a high standard of proof in court.

Overall, Nevada gets decent marks when it comes to citizens’ rights to self-defense in their long-winded but generally functional stand-your-ground law.

We will provide you an overview of everything you need to know in the article below as well as the exact text of the most important statutes at the very end.

What You Need to Know

  • Nevada allows citizens to use force including lethal force in defense of themselves or someone else so long as they are acting in response to a threat of great bodily injury or death or the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
  • Nevada allows the use of lethal defensive force to halt the commission of or prevent the commission of “crimes of violence.
  • Concerning self-defense while inside a vehicle, Nevada specifically defines a motor vehicle as any vehicle that is self-propelled; ostensibly bicycles and similar conveyances would not qualify.

General Provisions

Similar to many laws throughout the land on the subject, Nevada allows its citizens to defend themselves using force that is proportional to a threat against them.

The level of force that is allowed is up to and including lethal force so long as the lethal force is used responsibly in accordance with the law.

In Nevada, lethal force may be used to prevent or to halt the unlawful use of force against oneself or another or to prevent the imminent use of said unlawful force. Lethal force may also be used to stop a “crime of violence”, or the imminent commission thereof.

Nevada defines “crime of violence” as “any felony for which there is a substantial risk that force or violence may be used against the person or property of another in the commission of the felony.”

This language might be familiar to some readers in another context and other law books, specifically as forcible felonies.

Generally speaking, Nevada does not mandate a duty to retreat but only in certain circumstances which are specifically spelled out, namely if a person is in an occupied habitation, whether or not it is permanently inhabited or is occupying a motor vehicle at the time of the attack.

Nevada also has an entire statute devoted to qualifying a defender’s acting upon “bare fear” in self-defense, namely that bare fear alone is not enough to justify the use of lethal force.

You can read the full details in the statutes below, but in short the circumstances immediately preceding the use of defensive force must be judged adequate and reasonable to have excited the fear of imminent death or great bodily injury, or the imminent commission of a crime of violence.

Restrictions

Nevada’s stand-your-ground law includes exemptions for many of the common exclusions for the lawful use of force, including lethal force.

Specifically, at the time and circumstances that the lethal defensive force is used, one must be in a place that they have a legal, lawful right to be, they must not have provoked, antagonized or otherwise invited the threat against themselves, and they must not have been engaged or in support of the furtherance of any crime.

One interesting restriction is it Nevada makes it clear that any use of lethal force in defense must have been done in good faith, for lack of a better layman’s term.

Anything that might cloud the presumption that a person acted in anything other than fear for their life could cast doubt on their motives, and Nevada statutes state that any lawful use of lethal force in defense must never be done in a “spirit of revenge”.

This has nothing to do with a feud; an altercation that does not require the use of force to resolve but steadily escalates into a shouting match, then a shoving match and then physical violence where both parties are willing participants would certainly not meet the state standard for the use of lethal force in self-defense.

As is sometimes the case, if one party or the other is on the losing end of the engagement and escalates force to save face or “win” by producing a weapon it is impossible for the person who escalated to then claim self-defense; this would certainly not meet the state standard.

Assessment

Nevada is possessed of sturdy laws governing self-defense and the use of lethal force in defense of against a similarly lethal threat.

But Nevada is also noteworthy for more stringent qualifications and restrictions on the use of force than other states.

Namely that a person must not be committing any crime when claiming self-defense and must also be in a place that they have a legal right to be, but the circumstances surrounding their use of force must be judged reasonable as to incite a fear of death or great bodily injury before the use of force in self-defense can be justified.

Relevant Nevada Use of Force Statutes

NRS 193.014 – “Dwelling house” defined.

“Dwelling house” includes every building or structure which has been usually occupied by a person lodging therein at night, and whenever it is so constructed as to consist of two or more parts or rooms occupied or intended to be occupied, whether permanently or temporarily, by different tenants separately by usually lodging therein at night, or for any other separate purpose, each part shall be deemed a separate dwelling house of the tenant occupying it.


NRS 193.0145 – “Enter” defined.

“Enter,” when constituting an element or part of a crime, includes the entrance of the offender, or the insertion of any part of the body of the offender, or of any instrument or weapon held in the offender’s hand and used or intended to be used to threaten or intimidate a person, or to detach or remove property.


NRS 200.275 – Justifiable infliction or threat of bodily injury not punishable.

In addition to any other circumstances recognized as justification at common law, the infliction or threat of bodily injury is justifiable, and does not constitute mayhem, battery or assault, if done under circumstances which would justify homicide.


NRS 200.010 – “Murder” defined.

Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being:

1. With malice aforethought, either express or implied;

2. Caused by a controlled substance which was sold, given, traded or otherwise made available to a person in violation of chapter 453 of NRS; or

3. Caused by a violation of NRS 453.3325.

The unlawful killing may be effected by any of the various means by which death may be occasioned.


NRS 200.020 – Malice: Express and implied defined.

1. Express malice is that deliberate intention unlawfully to take away the life of a fellow creature, which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof.

2. Malice shall be implied when no considerable provocation appears, or when all the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.


NRS 200.120 – “Justifiable homicide” defined; no duty to retreat under certain circumstances.

1. Justifiable homicide is the killing of a human being in necessary self-defense, or in defense of an occupied habitation, an occupied motor vehicle or a person, against one who manifestly intends or endeavors to commit a crime of violence, or against any person or persons who manifestly intend and endeavor, in a violent, riotous, tumultuous or surreptitious manner, to enter the occupied habitation or occupied motor vehicle, of another for the purpose of assaulting or offering personal violence to any person dwelling or being therein.

2. A person is not required to retreat before using deadly force as provided in subsection 1 if the person:

(a) Is not the original aggressor;

(b) Has a right to be present at the location where deadly force is used; and

(c) Is not actively engaged in conduct in furtherance of criminal activity at the time deadly force is used.

3. As used in this section:

(a) “Crime of violence” means any felony for which there is a substantial risk that force or violence may be used against the person or property of another in the commission of the felony.

(b) “Motor vehicle” means every vehicle which is self-propelled.


NRS 200.130 – Bare fear insufficient to justify killing; reasonable fear required; rebuttable presumption under certain circumstances.

1. A bare fear of any of the offenses mentioned in NRS 200.120, to prevent which the homicide is alleged to have been committed, is not sufficient to justify the killing. It must appear that the circumstances were sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable person and that the person killing really acted under the influence of those fears and not in a spirit of revenge.

2. There is a rebuttable presumption that the circumstances were sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable person and that the person killing really acted under the influence of those fears and not in a spirit of revenge if the person killing:

(a) Knew or reasonably believed that the person who was killed was entering unlawfully and with force, or attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the occupied habitation or occupied motor vehicle, of another;

(b) Knew or reasonably believed that the person who was killed was committing or attempting to commit a crime of violence; and

(c) Did not provoke the person who was killed.

3. As used in this section:

(a) “Crime of violence” means any felony for which there is a substantial risk that force or violence may be used against the person or property of another in the commission of the felony.

(b) “Motor vehicle” means every vehicle which is self-propelled.


NRS 200.150 – Justifiable or excusable homicide.

All other instances which stand upon the same footing of reason and justice as those enumerated shall be considered justifiable or excusable homicide.


NRS 200.160 – Additional cases of justifiable homicide.

Homicide is also justifiable when committed:

1. In the lawful defense of the slayer, or his or her spouse, parent, child, brother or sister, or of any other person in his or her presence or company, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design on the part of the person slain to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury to the slayer or to any such person, and there is imminent danger of such design being accomplished; or

2. In the actual resistance of an attempt to commit a felony upon the slayer, in his or her presence, or upon or in a dwelling, or other place of abode in which the slayer is.


NRS 200.170 – Burden of proving circumstances of mitigation or justifiable or excusable homicide.

The killing of the deceased named in the indictment or information by the defendant being proved, the burden of proving circumstances of mitigation, or that justify or excuse the homicide, will devolve on the accused, unless the proof on the part of the prosecution sufficiently manifests that the crime committed only amounts to manslaughter, or that the accused was justified, or excused in committing the homicide.


NRS 200.190 – Justifiable or excusable homicide not punishable.

The homicide appearing to be justifiable or excusable, the person indicted shall, upon trial, be fully acquitted and discharged.


NRS 200.200 – Killing in self-defense.

If a person kills another in self-defense, it must appear that:

1. The danger was so urgent and pressing that, in order to save the person’s own life, or to prevent the person from receiving great bodily harm, the killing of the other was absolutely necessary; and

2. The person killed was the assailant, or that the slayer had really, and in good faith, endeavored to decline any further struggle before the mortal blow was given.

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