Self defense is a serious issue. Being able to defend yourself could potentially save your life or the life of someone else. With that in mind, there are some times when self defense cannot be claimed as the reason behind an act.
You need to be clear on the laws in the state of Nevada, so you understand what you can and cannot do to rightfully defend yourself in any situation. Then you can protect yourself, while still reducing the chances of liability for a misuse of self defense.
In Nevada, you can use force when defending yourself, but only in certain cases. If you are not in the right circumstances, and you harm someone else in the course of protecting yourself, you could still be charged with a crime. Generally, you can defend yourself with force if:
- You truly believe that you are in danger from your aggressor, and that the threat is immediate
- You use only the force necessary to stop the threat from your aggressor
In other words, you can protect yourself to make a person stop if they are trying to harm you, but you cannot continue to harm that person and claim that you were defending yourself. Once the threat has been repelled, you must cease anything you are doing to your aggressor.
That helps to ensure that people are not causing deliberate harm under the guise of self defense, while still allowing a person to protect themselves from the imminent threat of harm. When handled properly, that provides a good balance under the law.
There can still be gray areas, though, and it is very important to seek legal counsel if you have defended yourself against harm and cause injury to someone else in the process. It is possible the other party or their loved ones would attempt to sue you for their injuries. While you may not be found liable, you still want a trusted legal professional on your side.
Self Defense is a Legal Defense
The way the State of Nevada looks at self defense issues, there are several scenarios where self defense will serve as a valid legal defense for anyone who causes harm to another person. The most common situations where people defend themselves include:
Is Nevada a “Stand Your Ground” State?
Nevada is a stand-your-ground state, meaning it is legal to kill someone in self defense if that is the level of force necessary to repel an aggressor. However, if you can repel an aggressor without causing their death, then you have used enough force to defend yourself under the law. There is no duty for you to retreat before defending yourself, as long as:
- You were not the original aggressor (you did not start the conflict)
- You have a right to be in the location (you are not trespassing, etc.)
- You are not engaging in any criminal activity
Does Nevada follow the “Castle Doctrine”?
Nevada also has what is called the “Castle Doctrine” which generally permits self defense that includes killing someone if they break into your home or vehicle while you are in it, even if they did not do so with the intent to harm you.
As with any legal concerns, though, there can be subtleties and particulars that affect the legality of a particular action, including self defense. Working with an attorney is important to protect your interests in a self defense case, and to help ensure you are treated fairly and justly.
Specifics Matter With Self Defense in Nevada
When is Use of Force NOT Permitted?
One area where self defense cannot be used, is in cases where a non-violent crime is being committed. These are crimes such as burglary, where someone is stealing something and another person attacks them to stop the crime. That is not an area where you can claim you were acting in self defense, because you were not in danger of bodily harm.
The details matter when defending yourself. There are narrow guidelines for self defense acts and some people do try to claim that they were defending themselves when they intentionally caused harm. For example, provoking someone and then harming them to “defend” yourself does not give you a strong case.
Additionally, some people will seek revenge on someone for a past transgression, and claim they were defending themselves. While they may have been harmed by the person in the past, that is not how self defense law works in Nevada.
Instead, self defense is only a defense when there is imminent harm or the fear of that harm, and when a reasonable person in the same situation would have that same fear. Otherwise, the person who claims to be defending themselves could find that they are being charged with assault, instead.
If you have been involved in an incident where you defended yourself against a crime, working with an attorney is the best way to protect your interests.
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