Does NRS 200.200 allow me to kill someone in self defense in Nevada?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jul 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

Yes, NRS 200.200 allows you to kill someone in self-defense in Nevada if the following two conditions are true:

      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.

Self-defense laws in Nevada

Nevada law permits people to inflict physical force on other people in lawful self-defense or defense of others. However, this physical force must be in proportion to the threat.

For example if a person starts punching someone, the victim is allowed to fight back but only to the point necessary to deflect the threat. The victim may not inflict deadly force unless -- as discussed above -- it was absolutely necessary to prevent his/her own death or serious bodily harm.

Note that self-defense is a defense against criminal charges only if the defendant was acting reasonably. Even if the defendant genuinely thought he/she was justified in hurting or killing his/her assailant in self-defense, the defendant could still be criminally liable if his/her actions were not objectively reasonable under the circumstances. "Imperfect self-defense" is the legal term for when people mistakenly believe they are acting in legal self-defense.

"Castle Doctrine" in Nevada

Nevada's castle doctrine under NRS 200.120 permits people to use deadly force to protect their occupied home or occupied vehicle. Whereas NRS 200.200 requires people to try to "decline any further struggle" before giving the "mortal blow," NRS 200.200 dispenses with this duty:

Example: Jenny returns to her housing complex late after getting intoxicated at a Las Vegas party. She is so drunk she tries to get into the house next door to hers.

Evan is sleeping in this next door house when he hears someone trying to get in his front door. Evan then breaks out his gun and shoots through the door, which kills Jenny. In this case, Even should not be arrested for murder because he was under the reasonable belief that his occupied home was being broken into. Since this was an occupied dwelling, Evan did not have a duty to "decline any further struggle" and try to escape through a window.

Had Evan's house been unoccupied at the time Jenny was trying to break in, then Evan would not have been justified in killing her if he saw her from the outside. The Castle Doctrine applies only to occupied dwellings and vehicles. 

Learn more about Nevada's Castle Doctrine and justifiable homicide (NRS 200.120).

"Stand your Ground" in Nevada

According to NRS 200.120, Nevada is a "stand your ground" state but only under certain conditions. This means that a victim facing an immediate threat of bodily harm has no duty to retreat and can fight back if:

  1. The victim was not the original aggressor;
  2. The victim reasonable fears immediate death or substantial bodily harm;
  3. The victim was legally permitted to be in his/her current location; and
  4. The victim was not otherwise violating the law.

Therefore, a person would not be allowed to stand his/her ground if he/she was trespassing or was in the midst of carrying out another crime.

Learn more about Nevada "stand your ground" laws.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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