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Las Vegas Murder Defense Attorney

Last Modified: December 18, 2023

Fighting Murder Charges In Las Vegas, NV

Homicide is one of the most serious forms of violent crime, and if you or someone close to you is facing murder charges in Nevada, there’s much more than just money on the line. Unlike a civil law case where only your finances are at risk, facing murder charges can mean losing your freedom, which is why contacting an experienced Las Vegas murder defense attorney should be your top priority. The Spartacus Law Firm grasps the gravity and emotion that accompany a murder trial, especially when it can possibly lead to death penalties in Nevada. We will give you the respect and commitment needed for such high-stakes situations.

If found guilty of homicide, one can be sentenced to the death penalty in Nevada. Since 1976, eleven people have been executed and 84 remain on death row. If you’re facing serious charges such as this, you need representation from a skilled criminal defense lawyer. A qualified legal team could make all the difference between being convicted or innocent. Contact our office today for a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.

Definition Of Murder Charges In Nevada

The illegal act of taking another person’s life is known as murder. Depending on the context, those accused could be charged with either first-degree or second-degree homicide. However, there are many different scenarios and charges that can accompany homicide charges in Nevada.

First-Degree Murder Charges

Premeditated murder, or first-degree homicide, encompasses any intentional act of killing. This can refer to anything from shooting, stabbing, and strangling someone to poisoning them or inflicting torture upon them until they die. In Nevada’s criminal system, this is seen as the most heinous crime one can commit with a maximum punishment of either imprisonment for life – or in certain instances even execution.

Felony Murder Charges

The heinous act of first-degree murder also incorporates “felony murder.” This occurs when an individual kills another person while engaging in any of the following serious criminal offenses:

A person can be held accountable for felony murder, even if they had no intention of causing the death of another individual while in the throes of committing a separate crime. That’s why having an aggressive Las Vegas murder defense attorney in your corner is critical to obtaining the best possible outcome in your case.

Aiding & Abetting Charges

Those who assist others in committing murder are also criminally liable for the death which occurred, even if they did not pull the trigger. Commonly known as aiding and abetting, some examples of this offense include:

  • “Keeping a lookout” while another person is committing the murder
  • Pretending to be an alibi to the person who committed the murder
  • Giving information to a person to help him/her commit the murder

Second-Degree Murder Charges

Unintentional homicides that are committed as a result of recklessness or negligence comprise second-degree murder. For instance, playing Russian roulette would be considered an example of this – even though the defendant may not have had any desire to cause harm, anyone with common sense would know that firing off a partly loaded gun carries immense risk and could lead to death.

In Nevada, fatal DUI accidents do not qualify for a second-degree murder charge; instead, the defendant would be accused of “DUI Causing Death” (NRS 484C.430). This is considered one step down in severity from first-degree murder and could possibly result in life imprisonment if convicted.

NRS 484C.430 Penalty if death or substantial bodily harm results; exception; segregation of offender; plea bargaining restricted; suspension of sentence and probation prohibited; affirmative defense; aggravating factor. [Effective until the date of the repeal of the federal law requiring each state to make it unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater as a condition to receiving federal funding for the construction of highways in this State.]

1. Unless a greater penalty is provided pursuant to NRS 484C.440, a person who:

(a) Is under the influence of intoxicating liquor;

(b) Has a concentration of alcohol of 0.08 or more in his or her blood or breath;

(c) Is found by measurement within 2 hours after driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle to have a concentration of alcohol of 0.08 or more in his or her blood or breath;

(d) Is under the influence of a controlled substance or is under the combined influence of intoxicating liquor and a controlled substance;

(e) Inhales, ingests, applies or otherwise uses any chemical, poison or organic solvent, or any compound or combination of any of these, to a degree which renders the person incapable of safely driving or exercising actual physical control of a vehicle; or

(f) Has a prohibited substance in his or her blood or urine in an amount that is equal to or greater than the amount set forth in subsection 3 of NRS 484C.110,

and does any act or neglects any duty imposed by law while driving or in actual physical control of any vehicle on or off the highways of this State, if the act or neglect of duty proximately causes the death of, or substantial bodily harm to, another person, is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 20 years and must be further punished by a fine of not less than $2,000 nor more than $5,000. A person so imprisoned must, insofar as practicable, be segregated from offenders whose crimes were violent and, insofar as practicable, be assigned to an institution or facility of minimum security.

2. A prosecuting attorney shall not dismiss a charge of violating the provisions of subsection 1 in exchange for a plea of guilty, guilty but mentally ill or nolo contendere to a lesser charge or for any other reason unless the attorney knows or it is obvious that the charge is not supported by probable cause or cannot be proved at the time of trial. A sentence imposed pursuant to subsection 1 may not be suspended nor may probation be granted.

3. If consumption is proven by a preponderance of the evidence, it is an affirmative defense under paragraph (c) of subsection 1 that the defendant consumed a sufficient quantity of alcohol after driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle, and before his or her blood or breath was tested, to cause the defendant to have a concentration of alcohol of 0.08 or more in his or her blood or breath. A defendant who intends to offer this defense at a trial or preliminary hearing must, not less than 14 days before the trial or hearing or at such other time as the court may direct, file and serve on the prosecuting attorney a written notice of that intent.

4. If the defendant was transporting a person who is less than 15 years of age in the motor vehicle at the time of the violation, the court shall consider that fact as an aggravating factor in determining the sentence of the defendant.

(Added to NRS by 1973, 447; A 1979, 1484; 1981, 1926; 1983, 1073; 1985, 818, 1015; 1989, 1111; 1991, 220, 489, 498, 837; 1995, 312, 1300, 2473; 1997, 644; 1999, 2452, 3422; 2001, 172; 2003, 1492, 2560; 2005, 144; 2007, 1453)-(Substituted in revision for NRS 484.3795)

NRS 484C.430 Penalty if death or substantial bodily harm results; exception; segregation of offender; plea bargaining restricted; suspension of sentence and probation prohibited; affirmative defense; aggravating factor. [Effective on the date of the repeal of the federal law requiring each state to make it unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater as a condition to receiving federal funding for the construction of highways in this State.]

1. Unless a greater penalty is provided pursuant to NRS 484C.440, a person who:

(a) Is under the influence of intoxicating liquor;

(b) Has a concentration of alcohol of 0.10 or more in his or her blood or breath;

(c) Is found by measurement within 2 hours after driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle to have a concentration of alcohol of 0.10 or more in his or her blood or breath;

(d) Is under the influence of a controlled substance or is under the combined influence of intoxicating liquor and a controlled substance;

(e) Inhales, ingests, applies or otherwise uses any chemical, poison or organic solvent, or any compound or combination of any of these, to a degree which renders the person incapable of safely driving or exercising actual physical control of a vehicle; or

(f) Has a prohibited substance in his or her blood or urine in an amount that is equal to or greater than the amount set forth in subsection 3 of NRS 484C.110,

2. A prosecuting attorney shall not dismiss a charge of violating the provisions of subsection 1 in exchange for a plea of guilty, guilty but mentally ill or nolo contendere to a lesser charge or for any other reason unless the attorney knows or it is obvious that the charge is not supported by probable cause or cannot be proved at the time of trial. A sentence imposed pursuant to subsection 1 may not be suspended nor may probation be granted.

3. If consumption is proven by a preponderance of the evidence, it is an affirmative defense under paragraph (c) of subsection 1 that the defendant consumed a sufficient quantity of alcohol after driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle, and before his or her blood or breath was tested, to cause the defendant to have a concentration of alcohol of 0.10 or more in his or her blood or breath. A defendant who intends to offer this defense at a trial or preliminary hearing must, not less than 14 days before the trial or hearing or at such other time as the court may direct, file and serve on the prosecuting attorney a written notice of that intent.

4. If the defendant was transporting a person who is less than 15 years of age in the motor vehicle at the time of the violation, the court shall consider that fact as an aggravating factor in determining the sentence of the defendant.

(Added to NRS by 1973, 447; A 1979, 1484; 1981, 1926; 1983, 1073; 1985, 818, 1015; 1989, 1111; 1991, 220, 489, 498, 837; 1995, 312, 1300, 2473; 1997, 644; 1999, 2452, 3422; 2001, 172; 2003, 1492, 2560; 2005, 144, 145; 2007, 1453, effective on the date of the repeal of the federal law requiring each state to make it unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater as a condition to receiving federal funding for the construction of highways in this State)-(Substituted in revision for NRS 484.3795)

Death By Drugs Charges

When someone unintentionally causes death by providing drugs to another person, it is always considered second-degree murder. For example, if delicious brownies that are laced with ecstasy are brought to a potluck and one of the guests has an unfortunate reaction that leads to their death – they will be prosecuted for murder. If you would like more information on this crime in Nevada specifically, please refer to NRS 453.333 for further details.

If the death of a person is proximately caused by a controlled substance which was sold, given, traded or otherwise made available to him or her by another person in violation of this chapter, the person who sold, gave or traded or otherwise made the substance available to him or her is guilty of murder. If convicted of murder in the second degree, the person is guilty of a category A felony and shall be punished as provided in subsection 5 of NRS 200.030. If convicted of murder in the first degree, the person is guilty of a category A felony and shall be punished as provided in subsection 4 of NRS 200.030, except that the punishment of death may be imposed only if the requirements of paragraph (a) of subsection 4 of that section have been met and if the defendant is or has previously been convicted of violating NRS 453.3385 or 453.339 or a law of any other jurisdiction which prohibits the same conduct.

Attempted Murder Charges

The criminal offense of attempted murder is when a person deliberately endeavors to take the life of another individual, yet doesn’t succeed. Drawing an example would be shooting at someone and missing them or not inflicting serious harm upon them. It’s essential to recognize that even if the alleged victim doesn’t pass away, you can still be charged with attempted murder. By and large, intentioned offenses are one degree less serious than their completed counterparts.

The critical factor that determines the legal distinction between an attempted homicide and an aggravated assault is a defendant’s intention. If it can be successfully demonstrated that they did not intend to take another person’s life, then prosecutors may reduce the associated charges. It is critical to have a credible murder defense lawyer in Las Vegas who is knowledgeable in criminal law on your side if you are facing a trial for attempted murder or assault, as comprehending the contrast between these two offenses could be paramount for effective court strategy. Don’t leave yourself exposed – speak with a criminal defense attorney who knows both sides of this complex legal issue.

Penalties For Murder Charges In Nevada

Depending on the level of culpability, sentencing for murder can vary greatly. In cases where an unintentional killing occurs and a conviction of second-degree murder is established, punishments tend to be less punitive than those associated with first-degree convictions.

penalties for murder charges in nevada

When determining the severity of the sentence, judicial personnel consider all aggravating and mitigating circumstances that apply to the case. Aggravating factors are those which make a murder even more heinous; examples include:

  • The defendant tortured the victim prior to killing him/her
  • The victim was under 14 years old
  • The defendant killed at random without a motive

Numerous factors can render a defendant more entitled to leniency, including:

  • The defendant grew up in an abusive home
  • The defendant has contributed to the community
  • The defendant is a good parent
Las Vegas Criminal Defense ATTORNEY

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Defenses To Murder Charges In Nevada?

At the Spartacus Law Firm, we pride ourselves on providing innovative defense strategies that have been successful in countless murder cases. We understand the importance of carefully examining your situation and crafting a winning strategy to ensure you get the best possible outcome. Our policy is to always provide our clients with honest advice, thorough research, and effective tactics so they can achieve their desired results.

Those charged with murder in Nevada typically face first-degree murder charges. Luckily, our Las Vegas murder defense lawyer is well-equipped to handle these types of cases. No matter how complex the situation is, our experienced legal team can provide you with sound legal counsel on a variety of defenses related to your case. The list below outlines some of the options available:

  • Mistaken identity
  • Failure to prove elements
  • Accidental killing
  • Justification
  • Self-defense
  • Act in Defense of others
  • Exercise of duty
  • Insanity

Can Murder Charges Be Reduced To Manslaughter In Nevada?

It’s possible that murder charges can be reduced. Prosecuting a murder is incredibly time-consuming and costly, so prosecutors may choose to lessen the charge of murder to manslaughter in order to save themselves from litigation. Two elements are essential for defining a true crime as murder. In Nevada alone there are two distinct kinds of manslaughter:

  1. Voluntary manslaughter is killing in the heat of passion. The most common scenario is when a spouse discovers their partner engaging in an extramarital affair and acts out of rage, resulting in the death of their lover. The punishment for this crime can be up to 10 years behind bars.
  2. Involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional killing done while either breaking the law (such as hunting without a license) or by being negligent (such as leaving out a loaded gun). The maximum prison term is 4 years.

Not only do manslaughter charges in Nevada result in less serious penalizations than murder but they also are associated with smaller social repercussions. Those who have committed manslaughter may be able to continue their lives and pursue careers compared to those convicted of homicide.

Does Murder Carry The Death Penalty In Nevada?

In Nevada, a death sentence may only be bestowed upon an individual found guilty of first-degree murder if certain conditions are met:

  • The court finds there is at least one aggravating circumstance
  • The aggravating circumstances outweigh all the mitigating circumstances

Ultimately, only murder in the first degree can qualify as a capital offense. The court must decide whether to sentence the defendant to death or show leniency based on the particulars of their case. Note that those defendants who were minors (18 and younger) at the time of killing or deemed mentally disabled cannot face execution.

In addition, if someone is convicted of a murder motivated by sexual impulses, they may be subject to lifetime supervision under NRS 176.0931. However, there are avenues for the defendant to pursue in order to attempt to reverse the sentence after 10 years; such as appeals and writs of habeas corpus which could take several years in court proceedings. The death penalty is administered through lethal injection at Ely State Prison should all other measures fail.

176.0931. Special sentence for sex offenders; petition for release from lifetime supervision.

1. If a defendant is convicted of a sexual offense, the court shall include in sentencing, in addition to any other penalties provided by law, a special sentence of lifetime supervision.
 
2. The special sentence of lifetime supervision commences after any period of probation or any term of imprisonment and any period of release on parole.
 

3. A person sentenced to lifetime supervision may petition the sentencing court or the State Board of Parole Commissioners for release from lifetime supervision. The sentencing court or the Board shall grant a petition for release from a special sentence of lifetime supervision if

(a) The person has complied with the requirements of the provisions of NRS 179D.010 to 179D.550, inclusive;

(b) The person has not been convicted of an offense that poses a threat to the safety or well being of others for an interval of at least 10 consecutive years after the person’s last conviction or release from incarceration, whichever occurs later; and

(c) The person is not likely to pose a threat to the safety of others, as determined by a licensed, clinical professional who has received training in the treatment of sexual offenders, if released from lifetime supervision.

 

4. A person who is released from lifetime supervision pursuant to the provisions of subsection 3 remains subject to the provisions for registration as a sex offender and to the provisions for community notification, unless the person is otherwise relieved from the operation of those provisions pursuant to the provisions of NRS 179D.010 to 179D.550, inclusive.
 
5. As used in this section:
(a) “Offense that poses a threat to the safety or well-being of others” includes, without limitation:
(1) An offense that involves:
(I) A victim less than 18 years of age;
(II) A crime against a child as defined in NRS 179D.0357;
(III) A sexual offense as defined in NRS 179D.097;
(IV) A deadly weapon, explosives or a firearm;
(V) The use or threatened use of force or violence;
(VI) Physical or mental abuse;
(VII) Death or bodily injury;
(VIII) An act of domestic violence;
(IX) Harassment, stalking, threats of any kind or other similar acts;
(X) The forcible or unlawful entry of a home, building, structure, vehicle or other real or personal property; or
(XI) The infliction or threatened infliction of damage or injury, in whole or in part, to real or personal property.
 
(2) Any offense listed in subparagraph (1) that is committed in this State or another jurisdiction, including, without limitation, an offense prosecuted in:
(I) A tribal court.
(II) A court of the United States or the Armed Forces of the United States.
 
(b) “Sexual offense” means:
(1) A violation of NRS 200.366, subsection 4 of NRS 200.400NRS 200.710200.720, subsection 2 of NRS 200.730NRS 201.180201.230201.450201.540 or 201.550 or paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection 4 or paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection 5 of NRS 201.560;
(2) An attempt to commit an offense listed in subparagraph (1); or
(3) An act of murder in the first or second degree, kidnapping in the first or second degree, false imprisonment, burglary or invasion of the home if the act is determined to be sexually motivated at a hearing conducted pursuant to NRS 175.547.

Can I Be Deported For Murder Charges In Nevada?

Absolutely. Murder is deemed an “aggravated felony” and a “crime of moral turpitude,” both resulting in deportation after completing the criminal sentence. As such, anyone found guilty of murder will be exiled from the United States following their imprisonment.

For non-citizens who find themselves facing homicide charges in Nevada, it is imperative to contact an experienced Las Vegas murder defense attorney as soon as possible. With the help of a knowledgeable legal team, there may be a chance for the charge to be dismissed or downgraded from a deportable offense so that you can remain in America.

Can Felony Murder Criminal Records Be Sealed?

A conviction of felony murder can have a long-lasting and profound effect on your life, making it hard to gain employment or housing, as well as hindering you from obtaining professional licenses. However, if you have been convicted of such an offense, don’t lose hope – there is still the possibility for redemption: You may be able to get your criminal records sealed.

After a decade has passed, individuals convicted of felony murder in Nevada may petition to seal their criminal records. This 10-year waiting period is based on the classification of their offense as a Category A Felony. Regrettably, those given life sentences are ineligible for this procedure; yet if one’s charges get dismissed due to NRS 179.255, they can immediately file paperwork to have them sealed away permanently.

Contact Our Las Vegas Murder Defense Attorney Today

If you or a family member has been accused of felony murder in Nevada, don’t hesitate to call The Spartacus Law Firm right away. We understand the gravity of this situation and are committed to fiercely protecting your rights while fighting for an optimal outcome on your behalf. Reach out today to speak with our Las Vegas murder defense attorney and receive a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.

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