There are few things more terrifying than someone forcing their way into your home or threatening your life. A typical knee-jerk reaction is to defend yourself with whatever means possible.

Most people don’t take time to think or weigh the consequences, the survival instinct is powerful and it takes over, driving the person to do what they need to do to live. Nevada law values human life and has a number of laws that are designed to protect life. The state’s self-defense laws are part of that collection.

When is it legal to use lethal force to defend yourself or someone else? How does the legal system define self-defense?

There’s a lot of ground to cover. It begins with the three requisites for establishing a solid self-defense case. And that begins with Nevada’s “stand your ground” laws.

If you have acted in self-defense and are facing charges, here’s what you need to know.

What are the three 3 requisites for a valid self-defense in Nevada?

What does “stand your ground” mean in Nevada law?

Nevada is a “stand your ground” state. This means that if someone is attacking you or breaking into your home, vehicle (while you are in it), hotel room, or AirBnB, you have no duty to retreat. You are fully within the law to use lethal force to stop the attack and protect yourself.

This falls under the state’s Castle Doctrine which gives people the right to fatally wound intruders while they are in their homes, vehicles, or rental properties. Even if the intruder did not have any violent intent, the victim can still use fatal force as long as the three requisites are met.

What are the 3 requisites for a valid self-defense?

The “stand your ground” laws apply as long as three requirements are met:

  • The victim did not start the conflict. In other words, he or she is not the original aggressor.
  • The victim has a legal right to be in the place (home, car, hotel room, etc.) where the deadly force is executed.
  • The victim is not engaged in criminal activity when the attack occurs.

If the attack occurs in a home, car, hotel room, rental property, or AirBnB, the victim must be present at the time of the attack. In other words, if he or she walks up to a motel room or even their home and someone is breaking in, they cannot use deadly force. But if they are in the home or motel room and someone breaks in, they are legally allowed to use deadly force.

The house, vehicle, or room must be occupied at the time of the invasion.

Can you defend someone else?

Nevada law does not differentiate between a person acting in defense of themselves and acting in the defense of another person. Using deadly force to protect someone else is legal.

If you are walking down the street and see someone getting mugged, you can use deadly force to save the victim. Even though you were not defending yourself because your own safety was not in jeopardy, you were still protecting a life.

When can you use self-defense?

You can use self-defense when you believe that your life is being threatened and you are in immediate danger of being harmed or killed. This includes if you are the victim of a crime, such as:

  • Attempted murder
  • Resisting arrest
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Home invasion
  • Robbery
  • Battery domestic violence
  • Carjacking

As long as the victim is in a situation where they are reasonably trying to protect themselves, their actions should be viewed as self-defense – even if they fatally wound the aggressor.

How do you prove self-defense?

Self-defense is treated a little differently that criminal law. When prosecuting someone who committed a crime, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor. He or she must show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person committed the crime.

Self-defense is called an “affirmative defense” which means that the burden of proof is on the person who acted in self-defense. After that claim is made, the burden of proof is then on the prosecutor who must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they did not comply with Nevada’s self-defense laws.

The defense team uses many different types of evidence to prove their side. Video surveillance footage, emails, medical testimony, eyewitness testimonies, and more help to build the defense’s case to show the person acted in self-defense.





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