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Arrested for Homicide - What if I Acted in Self-Defense?

In typical homicide cases, the court must prove that your intentional actions directly caused the death of another human being. In certain cases, however, self-defense serves as a viable defense to homicide. Below, we discuss the details surrounding homicide and self-defense, as well as when the defense is applicable in court.

How Nevada Defines Homicide

Similar to other states across the country, Nevada defines homicide, or murder, as the unlawful killing of another human being. There are two different classifications of the crime – first-degree murder and second-degree murder.

  • First-degree murder is premeditated or occurs while someone commits another felony, such as robbery or burglary.
  • Second-degree murder occurs unintentionally, often as a result of negligent or reckless behavior by the person accused.

How Nevada Defines Self-Defense

Nevada law defines self-defense as a physical act used in response to immediate threat or danger, and may or may not include the use of a weapon. Self-defense is legal in Nevada if and when the defender believes they are facing serious bodily harm, and does not use more force than required to protect themselves from the aggressor.

When a Self-Defense Case Is Applicable

According to NRS 200.200, you must prove the following in order to successfully claim that you acted in self-defense against your homicide charges:

  • The assailant was so threatening and dangerous that, in order to save yourself from bodily harm or death, killing was absolutely necessary.
  • The assailant was killed, or you attempted to end the struggle before using final, deadly force on the deceased.

Unlike other states, Nevada does not require you to retreat from the conflict. Even if you have the opportunity to do so, you have no “duty to retreat.”

When a Self-Defense Case Is Not Applicable

There are a number of situations in which self-defense is not an applicable defense against murder charges. Some of these reasons are:

  • You were the initial aggressor in the situation.
  • You were not in immediate physical danger.
  • You were at the location legally and were not committing any crime at the time of the event.
  • Your level of force was beyond that of the aggressor, or beyond that of a reasonable person.

Nevada is known as an “affirmative defense” state, which means the court recognizes your right to defend yourself or others. Therefore, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were not acting in self-defense – or that your self-defense was unlawful – in order to convict you of homicide. The prosecutor will attempt to use evidence, such as video footage, eye-witness testimonies, or medical testimony to disprove self-defense.

Contact Our Reno Criminal Defense Attorney

Our Reno criminal defense attorney can help you fight your homicide charges. Our criminal defense lawyer, Kenneth A. Stover, has represented clients in over 70 different Nevada courts and has more than 20 years of experience.

Talk to our Reno criminal defense lawyer today at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Stover: (775) 502-1575.

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