NOTE: This website exists as a reference only, and is not to be taken as legal advice. Always read the laws yourself. There may be other laws than the listed laws, information may become out of date, and the interpretations here may not be correct.
Duty To Retreat
Under NRS 200.120 there is no duty for a person to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense if the all of the following conditions are met:
- The person has a right to be present at the location
- The person is not the original aggressor
- The person is not engaged in conduct in furtherance of a criminal activity.
Per NRS 200.190, any homicide that is justifiable or excusable is not punishable.
NRS 200.120 defines justifiable homicide and NRS 200.160 provides additional circumstances of justifiable homicide. This law allows the defense of yourself, as well as the defense of your home, property, and other people in certain circumstances. Here is a general summary of justifiable homicide under this law:The following killings are justifiable homicide:
- In necessary self-defense ( NRS 200.120 ). Per NRS 200.200, if a person kills another in self-defense the following conditions must both appear to be true:
- The danger was so urgent and pressing that, in order to save one's own life or prevent oneself from receiving great bodily harm, the killing of the other was absolutely necessary.
- The killed person was the assailant, or the slayer had in good faith attempted to decline further struggle before the mortal blow.
- In defense of habitation, property or person against a one who is either:
- Against a person violently or surreptitiously attempting to enter a habitation (other than his own), for the purpose of inflicting violence against a person within it. (NRS 200.120 )
- When there is reasonable ground to apprehend that the slain person had a design to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury to the slayer or any other person in the presence of the slayer, and there is imminent danger of this design being accomplished. (NRS 200.160 )
- In the actual resistance of an attempt to commit a felony upon the slayer in his presence, or upon or in a dwelling, or other place of abode in which the slayer is in. (NRS 200.160 )
However, per NRS 200.130, in order for a homicide to be found justified, it must appear that all of the below is true:
- The circumstances were sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable person.
- The killer acted under the influence of those fears
- The killing was not in a spirit of revenge
Also, per NRS 200.150, other circumstances which fall under the same footing of reason and justice as those enumerated in the law can also be found to be justifiable homicide.
Per NRS 000.060, "substantial bodily harm" is defined as follows:
NRS 0.060 “Substantial bodily harm” defined. Unless the context otherwise requires, “substantial bodily harm” means:
1. Bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ; or
2. Prolonged physical pain.
However, under NRS 200.200, the phrase "great bodily harm" is used rather than "substantial bodily harm."
Bodily Harm or Threats Done in Self-Defense / Common-Law
Per NRS 200.275, in addition to other circumstances recognized as justification at common law, infliction or threat of bodily injury is justifiable if done under circumstances that would justify homicide.
Burden of Evidence
Per NRS 200.170, when it is proven that a person has killed another, the burden is upon the killer to prove the circumstances that justify or excuse the homicide, unless the prosecution has presented the case in such a way that provides sufficient evidence that the accused was justified or excusable in the homicide.
Home Defense Presumed Justified
Per NRS 41.095, when the home is invaded, there is a presumption that the home owner was justified in using force unless there is clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.
Per NRS 200.180 some unintnetional killings are excusable:
NRS 200.180 Excusable homicide by misadventure.
1. Excusable homicide by misadventure occurs when:
(a) A person is doing a lawful act, without any intention of killing, yet unfortunately kills another, as where a person is at work with an ax and the head flies off and kills a bystander; or
(b) An officer punishing a criminal happens to occasion death, which acts of correction are lawful.
2. If the officer exceeds the sentence under which the officer acts, either in the manner, the instrument, or quantity of punishment, and death ensues, it is manslaughter or murder, according to the circumstances of the case.
Killings by Public Officers
Public officers are sometimes allowed to kill people in a justified manner as part of their job per NRS 200.140.
NRS 200.140 Justifiable homicide by public officer. Homicide is justifiable when committed by a public officer, or person acting under the command and in the aid of the public officer, in the following cases:
1. In obedience to the judgment of a competent court.
2. When necessary to overcome actual resistance to the execution of the legal process, mandate or order of a court or officer, or in the discharge of a legal duty.
3. When necessary:
(a) In retaking an escaped or rescued prisoner who has been committed, arrested for, or convicted of a felony;
(b) In attempting, by lawful ways or means, to apprehend or arrest a person; or
(c) In lawfully suppressing a riot or preserving the peace.
Nevada law allows a private citizen to arrest a criminal. NRS 171.104 defines arrest and states that it may be made by a peace officer or by a private person.
NRS 171.104 Arrest defined; by whom made.
An arrest is the taking of a person into custody, in a case and in the manner authorized by law. An arrest may be made by a peace officer or by a private person. (Added to NRS by 1967, 1400)
NRS 171.126 is the main provision concerning arrest by a private person. It generally allows a private person to arrest another under the following circumstances:
- In the presence of the person affecting the arrest, the criminal committed or attempted a public offense.
- The criminal has committed a felony not in the presence of the person affecting the arrest.
- A felony has been committed, and the person affecting the arrest has reasonable cause to believe the arrested person committed the felony.
Per NRS 171.136, an arrest by a private person must be made immediately after the offense is committed. And per NRS 171.178 a person conducting an arrest shall deliver the person to a peace office without unnecessary delay.
There are other provisions under the law, especially in Chapter 171, which one must adhere to during an arrest concerning the use of force, pursuit of arrested persons, the rights of the arrested, etc. that one must be cognizant of as well if one chooses to perform a citizen's arrest.
Failed 2013 Legislation
AB70, a bill to expand justifiable homicide, failed to pass during the 77th Legislative Session.
May 13, 2013: Changing to the new style. Also, added the definition of "substantial bodily harm" to this page.