Criminal defenses in Nevada are arguments that can help get charges dismissed or reduced to lesser offenses. The facts of each case and available evidence determine which defense strategies would be most effective.
Below our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys summarize and provide links to our in-depth articles on ten common defenses:
- 1. Unlawful search and seizure
- 2. Entrapment
- 3. Self-defense
- 4. False allegations
- 5. Consent
- 6. Intoxication
- 7. Insanity
- 8. Mistaken Identification
- 9. Privileged Communications
- 10. Due Process Violations
The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right to be free from unlawful searches or seizures. Therefore, police need a valid warrant – or a lawful reason not to get one – before they can search a person’s home or car for evidence.
If the police overstepped their bounds when conducting a search, the defense attorney can ask the court to suppress (exclude) that illegally-obtained evidence from the case. If the court agrees, the prosecution may be left with too weak a case to prosecute.
Police are permitted to go undercover and lie to suspects. But lawful deception crosses the line into entrapment whenever police trick or threaten suspects into committing a crime they were not predisposed to in the first place. If a defense attorney can show that the police entrapped the defendant, the criminal charge should be dismissed.
Nevada law permits people to fight back in self-defense (or defense of others) with proportional force. People may even use lethal force (“justifiable homicide”) if they reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent an urgent and pressing threat of death or substantial bodily harm.
- They reasonably believe their life is in jeopardy,
- They did not start the fight,
- They were not trespassing, and
- They were not otherwise breaking the law
Prosecutors are aware that some people falsely accuse others of crimes out of anger, revenge, or a misunderstanding. This typically occurs in cases involving domestic violence or rape. But defense attorneys are skilled at impeaching accusers’ credibility to show that they may be lying.
Consent is a common defense in cases involving sexual assault. As long as the alleged victim consented to the sex, then no rape occurred. Consent could also be a defense to theft. If the alleged victim agreed to give the money or property to the defendant, then no theft occurred.
Involuntary intoxication – which is when defendants are drugged without their knowledge and consent – is an effective defense to any criminal charge. If people are drugged against their will, they should not be held responsible for what they do.
In contrast, voluntary intoxication – when defendants consume alcohol or drugs on purpose – is a defense in only certain “specific intent crimes.” These are crimes where the defendant specifically intended to achieve a particular result, such as burglary or forgery. And even then, the defendant must show he/she was so intoxicated there was no ability to premeditate.
Defendants cannot be convicted of Nevada crimes they committed while they were legally insane. Under the M’Naghten rule, people are legally insane if they were in such a delusional state due to a disease or defect of the mind that they could not
- Know or understand the nature of what they were doing, or
- Appreciate that their conduct was illegal.
Police sometimes arrest the wrong person. Perhaps the defendant resembled the real culprit. Or perhaps the alleged victim wrongly picked the defendant out of a line-up. Evidence such as surveillance video, eyewitnesses, and DNA can help prove a mistaken identity defense.
When defendants say something incriminating to their husband or wife, psychiatrist, or lawyer, these statements may be privileged. This means that the spouse, doctor, or lawyer cannot be compelled to reveal them to the court (with some exceptions).
Learn about Nevada’s:
The court process must be fair for the results to be valid. Defendants may be able to contest their guilty pleas or verdicts if they were denied their rights.
One example of due process violations is ineffective assistance of counsel. This is when the defense attorney’s inadequate performance prejudiced the defendant’s case.
Another example is prosecutorial misconduct, which is when the prosecutors unlawfully prejudice the case. One type of prosecutorial misconduct is failing to turn over exculpatory evidence, which is evidence that suggests the defendant may be innocent.