Skip to Content
Trusted Defense For Criminal Cases

Why is There No Duty to Retreat in Nevada’s Self-Defense Laws?


Nevada is one of at least twenty-six states where a ‘Stand Your Ground’ or a ‘Castle Doctrine’ law is in effect. The courts can legally recognize a violent act as self-defense so long as the necessary circumstances are met. The law also justifies killing another person, so long as the deceased held an imminent threat of death or substantial harm to the defendant.

If you are accused of murder or homicide in Nevada, you may have self-defense as one of your pleas. If this is the first time you are in this legal situation, you may see something about the ‘no duty to retreat’ clause in Nevada’s self-defense law. Let’s learn more about why Nevada does not have a duty-to-retreat clause.

What is a Duty to Retreat?

Let’s first define what the duty to retreat is. In this context, a ‘duty to retreat’ refers to the legal provision that a person must not act in self-defense if the option to retreat from the area is available. Simply put, if you have the choice to run away but you prefer to fight back first, you cannot justify that you acted in defense.

Here is an example of how the duty to retreat works: a robber demands your wallet and threatens to hurt or kill you if you don’t comply. If the robber had a knife to your throat, you could defend yourself promptly and not be prosecuted for it. However, if you have the option to evade the robber and run away, you must take that option first. If the robber still manages to corner you after that, only then can you fight back.

Why Nevada Doesn’t Have It

As stated earlier, Nevada is a stand-your-ground state. This means that the law allows a person to defend themselves against another even if they can escape first. The state understands that its citizens will take immediate action if they or anyone near them are threatened. However, certain provisions must be met for the stand-your-ground situation to be justifiable:

  1. The defendant did not start the conflict.
  2. The defendant has rights to be in the location where the crime occured.
  3. The defendant was not engaged in criminal activity at the time.
  4. The defendant can prove that the aggressor was an immediate threat.
  5. The defendant acted with necessary force (that is, they only acted to incapacitate the aggressor and not intentionally kill them).

Note that in home invasion situations, a person can act in self-defense even if the home invader did not intend to directly harm the owner. This provision falls more under castle doctrine laws, although other circumstances can affect how the defendant can justify their actions.

Its Significance to Defendants

This clause substantially affects a person’s chances from getting a dismissal for their violent crimes charge. Using it, prosecutors can claim that the defendant deliberately chose to fight back instead of only acting out due to the circumstances. They can even claim that the act was premeditated.

With stand-your-ground laws in effect, a person is not legally required to retreat to a safer area before acting against their aggressor. A defendant can get a dismissal so long as they can prove beyond reasonable doubt that they acted appropriately to defend themselves from harm or death. Do note however that in both duty-to-retreat and stand-your-ground situations, acting above the limit of necessary force invalidates any plea of self defense.

Nevada understands that a person will act in self-defense when faced with an immediate threat. However, the state requires that the act is justified and within prescribed legal limits. Consult with your defense lawyer to better understand how the no-duty-to-retreat clause works for your case.

Share To: