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Is Nevada a Stand Your Ground State? Self-Defense Explained

Nevada is a “stand your ground” state, which means that individuals have no duty to retreat before using force to defend themselves if they reasonably believe such force is necessary to prevent death, bodily injury, or a forcible felony.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

What is a “Stand Your Ground” State?

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the legal concept known as the “castle doctrine” asserts that individuals have the right to use reasonable force, including deadly force, to defend themselves against an intruder in their home [1].

This principle has been incorporated into state laws across the country, expanding and codifying the rights of individuals to protect themselves in various situations.

In the 1980s, several states enacted laws, often called “make my day” laws, that granted immunity from prosecution for the use of deadly force against an intruder in one’s home.

In 2005, Florida passed a law related to castle doctrine, expanding on that premise with “stand your ground” language related to self-defense and duty to retreat. Florida’s law states “a person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony – National Conference of State Legislatures

As of now, at least 28 states and Puerto Rico have laws that eliminate the duty to retreat when facing an attacker in any place where a person is lawfully present. These states include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Additionally, ten of these states specifically include language allowing individuals to “stand their ground.” These states are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

Finally, eight states, including California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington, permit the use of deadly force in self-defense through judicial decisions or jury instructions.

Imperfect Self Defense

In some states, there is a concept known as “imperfect” self-defense, where an individual has a genuine but objectively unreasonable fear for their safety.

For instance, imagine Juan’s neighbor confronts him at his mailbox, threatening to beat him up if his cat continues to dig up her garden. Fearing for his safety, Juan punches her.

This could be considered imperfect self-defense because while Juan acted out of fear, his fear was not objectively reasonable as there was no immediate or imminent threat to his safety. The neighbor’s threat was conditional on the future behavior of Juan’s cat, which does not constitute an immediate threat.

Non-Deadly vs Deadly Force

When acting in self-defense, the use of non-deadly force is sometimes necessary and allowed under the law.

If the person using self-defense believes that they were facing immediate bodily harm, and the force that was used was only an amount that was necessary for protection, this non-deadly force is deemed legal.

In Nevada, the use of deadly force can be justified in specific scenarios if your life is in imminent danger. However, the threat must be so pressing and urgent that killing another was necessary to save your own life. Additionally, the person killed must be the assailant, and the person using deadly force must have attempted to avoid any further confrontation before resorting to deadly force.

According to SCLG, Nevada law allows for the use of force in self-defense under specific circumstances [2]:

  • When the individual reasonably believes there is an imminent threat of bodily harm to themselves or others.
  • When the individual uses no more force than necessary to address the threat.

Nevada is a “stand your ground” state, meaning individuals have the right to defend themselves without retreating, as long as the self-defense is considered reasonable.

For example, if someone tells another person to leave their home, and the person refuses, the homeowner might use physical force to remove them. However, if the person being removed responds with excessive force, such as using a knife to stab the homeowner, their actions might not be considered self-defense.

In another scenario, if the homeowner removes the person from the house and releases them, but the person returns and attacks, the homeowner’s self-defense claim might also be weakened because the immediate threat has passed.

Predictably, self-defense cases are very fact-specific. Nevada courts look closely at the details of exactly what happened when in order to decide whether the defendant acted reasonably.

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References:

1. https://www.ncsl.org/civil-and-criminal-justice/self-defense-and-stand-your-ground
2. https://www.shouselaw.com/nv/defense/legal-defenses/self-defense/

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