Injuring or killing someone in an act of self-defense can lead to concerns about civil and criminal liability. Nevada law provides protections for people who act in self-defense, but Nevadans should take a moment to understand what those protections are and how they work.
Justifiable homicide under Nevada law
Nevada’s “justifiable homicide” laws provide that it is not a crime to kill someone while acting in self-defense in certain situations. The killing must have been for one’s own self-defense, or in defense of an occupied home or vehicle. The person who was killed must have been “manifestly” intending or endeavoring to commit a crime of violence, or to enter the home or vehicle for the purpose of assaulting someone inside. NRS 200.120(1). Justifiable homicide extends to acts in defense of other people who are in imminent danger, or in cases where the homicide occurs while resisting an attempted felony. NRS 200.160, NRS 200.190.
Under the state’s “stand your ground” law, a person is not required to retreat before using deadly force provided that the following things are true:
- The person is not the original aggressor;
- The person has a right to be present at the location where deadly force is used (i.e., the person is not trespassing); and
- The person is not actively engaged in criminal activity at the time the deadly force is used.
These limitations can pose problems for people in some situations. For example, someone who starts a fight cannot claim self-defense if the brawl escalates beyond a simple shoving match, even if the person who ends up slain was responsible for raising the degree of violence.
Nevada limits civil liability for injuries caused in the course of self-defense
Nevada law expressly provides that someone who hurts or kills someone in an act of self-defense cannot be held civilly liable for the personal injuries or wrongful death of the attacker. NRS 41.095 shelters acts of self-defense described above, and also protects people who act in self-defense under the following circumstances:
- The person used force to defend the person’s residence or other place of transient lodging, or vehicle;
- The person had a reasonable fear of imminent death or bodily injury to himself or herself, or another person;
- The person who is injured or killed is committing burglary, home invasion, or grand larceny of the vehicle using a deadly weapon; and
- The person who used force knew or had reason to believe that burglary, home invasion, or auto theft was being committed.
Talk to a Las Vegas personal injury attorney about self-defense
The attorneys at the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have broad experience with personal injury cases. If you or a loved one has been injured in an altercation that potentially involves self-defense questions and you’re wondering about your legal options, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476 or ask us to reach out to you through our contact page.