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Is there a statute of limitations to file a murder charge in Nevada?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Dec 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

No. Under NRS 171.080, there is no statute of limitations for Nevada murder charges. This means that there is no time limit for the prosecution to charge a murder suspect in Nevada. Even if fifty years pass on a cold case, prosecutors can still charge a suspect if they get enough evidence implicating the suspect of killing the victim.

Murder definition in Nevada

Murder is the illegal and malicious killing of another person. It is classified as either first-degree or second-degree.

First-degree murder encompasses:

  • premeditated killing;
  • aiding and abetting a premeditated killing (accomplice liability); and
  • felony murder (killing while done in the commission of a serious felony, such as rape, burglary, arson, kidnapping, robbery, child abuse, elder abuse, or sexual abuse of a child)

Second-degree murder encompasses unintentional killings where the defendant acted so recklessly that a fatality was foreseeable. An example is playing Russian roulette. Another type of second-degree killing is unintentionally causing a person to die by giving the person drugs. 

Murder penalties in Nevada

The punishment for murder under NRS 200.030 depends on whether the defendant was convicted of first- or second-degree murder:

Nevada Murder conviction Penalties (Category A Felony)

1st-degree

  • Death penalty in Nevada (if aggravating circumstances outweigh mitigating circumstances), or
  • Life in Nevada State Prison without the possibility of parole, or
  • Life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years, or
  • 50 years in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years

2nd-degree

  • Life in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years, or
  • 25 years in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years

The judge can increase sentences by one to twenty (1 - 20) years if either:

  • the defendant used a deadly weapon to commit the death, or
  • the victim was at least 60 years old

A murder conviction can be sealed from the defendant's record ten (10) years after the case closes as long as the victim was an adult. If the victim was a child, then murder charges can never be sealed.

Fighting murder charges in Nevada

There are several possible ways to defend against charges of murder, but they depend on the unique facts of the case. Common defenses include the following:

  1. The defendant had no intention of causing death (for first-degree murder charges);
  2. The defendant was insane;
  3. The defendant was acting in lawful self-defense or defense of others;
  4. The defendant's confession to murder was coerced by police (if the defendant confessed);
  5. The police search in the case violated the Fourth Amendment; and
  6. The police wrongly identified the defendant as the killer

Statute of Limitations for other homicide offenses in Nevada

The statute of limitations for the prosecution to bring an attempt murder charge is usually three (3) years. But the time limit is extended to five (5) years if the police report was filed within the first three (3) years.

There is a three (3) year statute of limitations for the prosecution to bring the following homicide charges:

  • voluntary manslaughter,
  • involuntary manslaughter,
  • vehicular homicide, and
  • feticide

There is a one (1) year statute of limitations for the prosecution to bring charges of vehicular manslaughter, which is only a misdemeanor.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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