Last week, a man was killed in an apparent home robbery near Jones Blvd. and Vegas Drive. Police responded after receiving reports of a homeowner shooting an individual.
While there is still little known about the individuals involved in the shooting, the broad question becomes, what was the right of the homeowner in this case, and can he be held criminally accountable for the death of the alleged intruder?
Self-Defense Laws in Nevada
In Nevada, we have specific self-defense laws that allow an individual to defend themselves, others, or their property from intruders. But when it comes to any homicide, there are few absolute legal rights, even when you are defending yourself in the conveyance of another crime such as a home invasion.
Self-defense that results in the fatality of an aggressor must meet certain conditions in order to be considered a justifiable homicide:
- The danger was imminent, urgent, and pressing.
- The non-aggressor felt in danger of major bodily harm or death.
- Any reasonable person would have felt the same fear for their safety or life given the same set of circumstances.
- There was no revenge motive by the non-aggressor.
In other words, in order for self-defense to be considered justifiable, there must have been imminent fear of harm or death by the non-aggressor in order for deadly force to be lawfully used in a matter of self-defense.
Standing Your Ground
That being said, similar to many other states in the nation, Nevada is a “stand your ground” state, with legislation dating back to 1983. This means that an individual is not required to retreat when threatened by an aggressor before killing them in self-defense. This statute protects self-defense actions in many different scenarios, including a home invasion.
In Nevada, you may stand your ground when, in addition to the other justifiable homicide conditions,
- You are not the original aggressor
- You have the right to be there when the deadly force is used
- You are not actively engaged in criminal activity when the deadly force is used
The Castle Doctrine
In Nevada, we also have the castle doctrine. This enables someone to use deadly force as self-defense to protect their property.
Under the castle doctrine, an individual has the right to use deadly force to protect an occupied home or an occupied vehicle from another party, even if there is no intent to kill. If the home or vehicle was unoccupied, however, it cannot be considered under the castle doctrine.
The castle doctrine has a lower bar than the stand your ground doctrine that requires that the individual was in imminent fear or death or harm. Under the castle doctrine, a person has the right to use deadly force whenever another party is unlawfully trying to enter the occupied premises.
Defending Your Self-Defense Case
In any self-defense case that results in homicide, there are usually many different variables that will need to be considered. Homicide charges may be filed against a homeowner even if they were defending their home. This is why it is critical to have the skilled representation of an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorney to ensure your best possible outcome in a self-defense case.
If you have been charged with homicide in a matter of self-defense, your freedom is on the line. The criminal defense team at LV Criminal Defense can help. Contact us to schedule a no-cost consultation to understand your legal rights and defense options.